I love AirAsia – their motto is “now everyone can fly” and their super-low fare have given millions of people a chance to fly for the first time! You can see that everyday across Asia and I’ve been on plenty of flights with “first-timers” trying to navigate their way around unfamiliar territory. I have seen people excitedly “storm” the plane, run all-over the airfield to take pictures of themselves in front of the plane or get up during take-off to go to the toilet – most of them are innocent mistakes and harmless, some are inconsiderate and annoying, but I have fortunately never encountered anything dangerous. Read on for a scary story!
A 43 year old Vietnamese man from the small village of Duong Lam was on his way from Hanoi (North Vietnam) to Ho Chi Minh City (the former Saigon in the South). Shortly after boarding, he really, really needed to go to the restroom – and opened the “Exit” door conveniently located right next to him! That activated the emergency slide – and after the shocked crew got on top of the situation, it took three hours to repack the slide, offload passengers due to safety regulations (non-operational emergency exit) and finally get on their way. The passengers who had to wait for the next flight got a compensation of $14 and the man is expecting a large fine! you can read the full, hard-to-believe story here!
Unfortunately, that’s not an isolated incident – you can read a similar story here – and similar disruptions have occurred frequently. I think it’s time that airlines hand out flyers or offer briefings to first-time flyers before boarding a plane – a notice with the boarding pass or a short conversation at check-in could save everybody a lot of time and money! And, while I don’t think my readers are at risk of making this mistake, listening to the safety briefing before departure is a good thing, even though it is boring. Safe travels, and please, please leave those exit door handles well alone!