Evacuate, Evacuate

On my most recent flight with Air Uganda (which was incidentally a 35 minute flight delayed for 5 hours due to a storm and when the storm passed further delayed because they had no available pilot to fly the plane), I got a seat in the exit row. This has not happend to me on  a flight for quite a while (with my height there is not really any argument I can make to warrant the extended leg room). Therefore, if what I describe below is an entirely normal description of the procedures to follow when sitting by an exit row, then forgive me. However, if they are, then I cannot help but find them a little strange,  to say the least.

Stewardess: Madam, do you realize that you are sitting by an exit row.

Me: Yes

Surprisingly, the big red sign saying “EXIT” gave that one away.

Stewardess: Are you willing to help us and your fellow passengers during an emergency?

Me: Yes

I guess its not every man/woman for themselves then.

Stewardess: Ok, I will now show you how to take the window off in case of an emergency.

Stewardess proceeds to show me how to take the window off.

Stewardess: But Madam, please only take the window off if the pilot says the word ‘evacuate’ three times. If he only says it twice, do not take the window off, then it is not an emergency.

Really? I mean, which (sadistic) pilot would go on loudspeaker and say “evacuate” not once, but twice, on a plane, when it is not an emergency?

Stewardess: In case the microphone is not working, the pilot will flash the fasten seatbelt sign three times.

I wanted to ask whether there is some time interval for the succession of blinks that I need to be looking out for and whether they would provide a complimentary stopwatch for this. But I thought I best leave it.

Stewardess: You can also only open the window if we are in the air, on water or land and only if you cannot see any debris or fire from your window.

I had to follow up on this one.

Me: So if there is debris or fire outside my window, what can I do to evacuate the aircraft?

Stewardess: You will have to find another option Madam.

Duh.

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One Response to Evacuate, Evacuate

  1. Nantume says:

    Astrid, I recently ended up in an exit row on a KLM flight from Vienna to Amsterdam on my way to Entebbe. As in your case, this was a rare occurrence as I do not warrant the extra space. While those of us in the row received a briefing and were asked whether we felt emotionally and physically fit to take on exit duties, we certainly did not get a window-removing demo that you received. Our tutor also missed out the obvious piece of information, which yours felt duty bound to do, that windows may only be opened in the air, on water or land. Are you sure you were not on a spaceship – otherwise, I cannot think of any other option?

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