Why do people grab their bags after a plane crash?

I expect it’s just habit. Life-threatening emergency doesn’t break the habit, it just digs the habit in deeper.

Even though I am an absent-minded person much of the time, I have only rarely left my iPad or anything else valuable on a plane. It’s because my subconscious brain is trained. No matter how tired or distracted I am, when the plane stops and people are getting to their feet, my subconscious is trained to check those seat pockets and be sure I haven’t forgotten anything. I imagine I might do the same thing in an emergency.

Also, this:

You might be thinking that someone shouldn’t be filming during an emergency. That just like grabbing a bag, it could potentially slow things down and put lives at risk. And you might be right. But this piece of footage could have a very positive effect on safety.I’ve no doubt investigators will study it to see how people coped with a real drama compared to a practice drill. They may learn invaluable safety lessons for the future.Looking at the footage, it appears that some people are instinctively grabbing the oxygen masks, for example. Why?

It does seem inappropriate to video during an emergency. But it’s not inappropriate. The video isn’t frivolous, it’s history. And there’s nothing else to do when you’re just standing at your seat waiting for the aisle to clear. Better than panicking and pushing your way out.

But please hold the phone horizontally when shooting video. Not vertically. Horizontally. Even in life-threatening emergencies, we are not savages.

Why do people grab their bags after a plane crash? (Richard Wescott/BBC News)

3 thoughts on “Why do people grab their bags after a plane crash?

  1. coyoty

    Their bags are full of emotional bitcoins. Horcruxes. Their hearts. People imbue personal objects with aspects of themselves that they don’t want to carry innately. They mentally displace their feelings and memories into sentimental objects so they can conveniently forget them until they want to access them again. Their bags contain their lives and identities, things they will lose in a fire if they don’t rescue them.


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