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Why do you grab your bag when running off a burning plane? (nytimes.com)
57 points by hhs 36 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 111 comments

  Why would anyone evacuating a
  plane waste precious moments
  retrieving his Sudoku book
I think part of understanding this is replacing "Sudoku book" with "Passport, travel insurance documents, money, and return plane ticket"

Everyone's heard the Kafkaesque stories of people getting stuck living in airports for hundreds of days [1] or having to pay huge sums for hotels and different flights out of their own pockets. Not that I imagine that would happen if you fled a burning plane - but who'd be calm enough to reason that through while their plane was on fire?

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_who_have_lived_...

When traveling, I keep those important and valuable belongings (identification, money, life sustaining meds) on my persons either on inside pockets or a holder on a lanyard tucked inside my clothes. The only time I might be separated from them is when going through airport security. Typically I'll hang onto my ID though and carry it through the body scanners (unless they tell me not to).

I do the same: passport, visa, wallet and mobile stay in my jeans' pockets through the flight.

I don’t do this anymore ever since my passport fell out of my pocket onto the airline seat after a long haul. I was able to get it back, but lesson learned: passport goes into my carryon after the secondary visa check before boarding.

Use the sealed pouch ID holder on a lanyard around your neck under your clothes and it won't fall out.

People who don't check their pockets every time they get up blow my mind.

I check them every time I get up...

except for that one time I actually dropped something

The only thing you need is your passport. This is because if you de-plane without it, you have to wait for the authorities to confirm your identity, which can take hours. Which can happen if e.g. your plane overshoots a runway in the mildest case. Money is maybe a close second, followed by a phone.

(edit: parent was edited to include the part about the "the Kafkaesque stories", so this response seems to duplicate things a bit now)

How is it the only thing you'll need though? If you're not wealthy then the loss of some of that stuff can complicate your life.

Such an event will "complicate your life" regardless. When you're poor, that's always an issue, e.g. if/when your car breaks down. Just one reason why being poor sucks. But should you put others at risk? No. The point still stands, there's an immediate need for identification, everything else can be sorted later.

Not really. You don't evacuate airplanes unnecessarily since people get scared, trampled or hurt. So once there is an evacuation you can't treat it like anything else than an actual emergency. At which point no one is expected to have their documents. If it turns out to not be a life treating situation someone will get you your stuff soon enough and otherwise you shouldn't have it anyway.

People don't understand rapidly evolving situations because it is hard to do. They will do whatever they normally do. They will process what is happening in their own frame of reference. Which isn't "smoke inhalation in 30 seconds", but "let's hurry a little bit". I don't necessarily think you should blame people though.

Not to mention life saving medication. I frequently travel with someone who has a kidney transplant. Their medication is always in their carry-on and with them so it doesn't get lost or shipped ahead.

If our plane went down I would definitely be helping them retrieve their carry on as we evacuated the plane because they would die without their medication.

To take the recent example: Medication so rare the Moscow medical system can't provide it in time?

If you don't know the local language, it may be difficult to obtain. The local medical system may also use a different medicine for the same purpose, but that doesn't mean one can simply switch between them.

The person I travel with takes two rounds of their medication in a given day. If they miss the morning round, their joints lock up and are in severe pain. If they miss their evening round, they risk damage to their graft kidney which could turn into rejection. At each round they take controlled substances to relieve pain.

So getting the medication in a timely manner, according to the law, at a price they can afford, and from a doctor that can understand them is a big ask in Moscow in the aftermath of an aviation accident.

If they had to choose between intractable pain, inability to move, destroying the kidney that they got from a cadaver, and risking their death and giving someone an additional 30 seconds to get off a plane then I would wager they would take living. I would tend to agree with them.

How many people are you willing to put at risk for death to save your friend?

Most people would willing to sacrifice some number of people to save the life of family or friends; it's human nature to look out for your own. I bet there's a good "trolley problem" study out there about this if you're curious.

Edit: I don't know if this one covers friends, but it does cover family and romantic partners.

Bleske-Rechek, A., Nelson, L. A., Baker, J. P., Remiker, M. W., & Brandt, S. J. (2010). Evolution and the trolley problem: People save five over one unless the one is young, genetically related, or a romantic partner. Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, 4(3), 115.

All of them including myself.

I used to think that if I was ever in a plane crash I'd want to save my laptop, so now I've gotten into the habit of carrying a small SSD drive with me whenever I travel. I use it to image the hard drive on my laptop. I keep it in a ziploc bag in my pocket. Other than that, I never take anything with me on a trip that I'm not willing to lose. That way if I am ever in a plane crash, the drive, already in my pocket, is all I need to save from among my belongings. Keeping it in a ziploc means it will be OK even if we go down over water. (And, of course, I've got backups at home too.)

You might want to get a better bag if you're worried about submersion. Ziplocs are not necessarily completely water tight out of the box, and they degrade pretty quickly in use (like the constant rubbing that'll be produced by carrying it in your pocket all the time). Wad up some toilet paper in an old ziploc or two and submerge them for a few minutes, then check the paper...you might not like the results. Consider a dry bag like rafters/kayakers use.

A proper dry bag won't fit in my pocket. I do use a fresh ziploc for every trip, but there's a limit to what I'm willing to do to mitigate this risk. I also have backups at home, so if I ever do lose my backup to water that will be inconvenient but not catastrophic.

Fair enough. There are dry bags that are cell phone sized, though, which I would guess is about the same size as your drive.

"there's a limit to what I'm willing to do to mitigate risk..."

This is a troll right? Plan for a plane crash but not willing to use proper waterproof storage?

Lots more reasons why you might loose a laptop while traveling, it's not a dedicated plan for plane crashes.

> This is a troll right?


> Plan for a plane crash but not willing to use proper waterproof storage?

Yep. A ziploc bag costs me about a nickel, takes me five seconds to acquire (because I have them in stock), and fits neatly into my pocket, which is a really important feature for this use case. I don't know of any "proper waterproof storage" with those features. It's possible I'm being foolish, but I'm not trolling.

I always fly with my passport in my pocket for similar reason.

I am fine with losing all tech though, with everything being encrypted and backups with anything important elsewhere that seems like a minor inconvenience.

A better reason is fears of theft. Especially in terminals, your bag is much more likely to get stolen.

If you get off a plane crash alive, your laptop will be the last thing on your mind

You're kidding right? Plane crash? Over water?

You'd be lucky to survive, who cares about your hard drive.

People survive plane crashes, even over water, all the time.

This is to save your few hours of works while on widi-less plane? Or do you not use cloud drives?

That's right, I don't use cloud drives. Where I travel, high speed internet is often not available. Also, I don't trust cloud providers. "The cloud" is a synonym for "someone else's computer." I want my data on hardware that I own and control.

Why don't you just encrypt the data before uploading?

Because that doesn't solve the problem of not having an internet connection. Also, it's not that I don't trust providers not to read my data, it's that I don't trust them not to lose it. I have no way of knowing what goes on behind the scenes at a cloud provider. For all I know, they are one hardware failure (or one financial failure) away from losing my data.

I use a drive cloud provider (pcloud) which I backup with a backup provider (backblaze).

The advantage of using providers is that they have paid employee to take care of everyday operations. I'll argue that using 2 different provider protects me from losing all my data if one of them screws up royally, or their business go under. Also, this is my dog-fooding of the solution I recommend to my non-tech family and friends.

They have obligations to their corporate customers which would require them to have architecture in place to protect against that kind of scenario better than any home user could on their own.

Plus you could hedge your bets by just backing up to multiple providers (i.e. Google Drive, Onedrive, Dropbox). What are the chances that all three would fail simultaneously?

What if you get struck by lightning? Better make that a faraday cage ziploc bag.

Planning for a plane crash is probably the most ridiculous, insane thing one can do. There is a benefit trade-off of preparation time and being worried all the time. It bothers me when I see people always in “guarded” mode - these people seem to never live freely, enjoy the moment and they constantly worry about someone stealing their wallets or their car. I had a manager at work who would steering lock with a giant steel rod on his brand new Mercedes which has a number of safety/anti-theft systems.

I go to the other extreme which is probably also insane. I never use a phone case, put a leather cover on my passport or any of these things. I’ve realized that I have so many years to live and enjoy the products as they’re designed. If I were to buy a Ferrari, you bet your bottom dollar I am driving the shit out of it.

Edit: I want to clarify: I wear seatbelts, safety glasses (even when frying something in the kitchen, yes your kitchen is essentially a chemical lab with a Bunsen burner), sunscreen, regular health screenings, go to the dentist, shower, etc. I think people are totally missing my point if your argument is about ignoring safety, sanitation, etc.

We plan for car crashes by wearing seatbelts, buying insurance and some even buy cars based on safety features. Carrying an SSD seems a little over the top to me when there’s cloud backups, but perhaps there are reasons the poster doesn’t trust cloud services.

And FWIW when I fly I keep my passport, phone and medicine on my body at all times. While the odds of a crash are low it’s better to spend 15 seconds preparing (especially since there’s barely anything else useful to be doing while in the terminal or airplane).

Car crashes are much, much more frequent though. I think the point the parent is trying to make is plane crashes are infrequent, and the worry isn't worth it - especially compared to what you can actually do.

It resonates with me quite a bit since my parents worry about everything, even trivial things, or would spend a silly amount of time trying to save pennies - not worth it. Given that humans are bad at probabilities/risk assessment, and that people survive way worse disasters, and that SSD probably isn't so important once you gain a different perspective, maybe it is worth worrying less in the long run.

At least in the us seats belts are mandated by law, as is insurance. It is about Risk analysis. The odds your plane crashes is close to zero. The odds you are in a car wreck is greater than zero. A lot of people get the analysis wrong, and out too much effort into something that probably won't happen. That being said, carrying an SSD drive while traveling isn't a bad idea. But not because the plane might crash

Carrying your passport on your person has nothing to do with planning for a plane crash. You probably carry your phone in your pocket walking down the street just in case of... meteor strike? Godzilla attack?

Correct but missing the point. Passport on your person is a small and easy precaution for tons of unknown unknowns while travelling. A plane crash being one of them.

I always make sure my shoes are on for takeoff and landing, ensure that I know which emergency exit I will use, and attempt to evaluate my best path to that exit. I don’t feel like it’s a waste to plan for the remote possibility of a life threatening situation.

I’m not advocating ignoring fundamental aspects of safety, wearing proper PPE, evacuation information, exits, etc. You should be aware of them and use them.

Actually that stuff also constitutes a poor cost benefit ratio. The chance that everything goes wrong in exactly the right way where it’s useful is so small, you might as well spend the time memorizing riddles in case you’re ever kidnapped by a guy imitating the joker.

really? Stuff like hard hats or steel toes or hi-viz clothing isn't likely to pay off? What makes you say that?

Certainly true, but the amortized cost of carrying an SSD in my pocket is essentially zero and it buys me some peace of mind, irrational though that may be.

Considering how frequently laptops are stolen during travel I think that is a great safety measure for a much more likely scenario that also ends up with you losing your data.

I fail to see how this is better than syncing to a hard drive that you leave at home?

Two reasons: first, it lets me back up the work I do on the plane and second, it lets me buy a new laptop wherever I am and carry on. (I actually lost a laptop to water once on a trip, not through a plane crash, but by a freak storm that soaked our tent while on a safari in Africa. The backup I had with me let me recover as soon as we got back to civilization and made the 24 hour flight back home much more productive than it would have been otherwise.)

Actually, I'm partially this type of person (although it's difficult to admit). But, definitely not as paranoid as the manager, but I did a bit of research before investing in my car and got a manual instead. There was an attempted theft once, but the thief gave up trying to figure out how to drive my car. I'd say my borderline paranoia worked.

yes, people often have a hard time tempering their irrational instincts with a rational understanding of risks and probabilities. life is all risk (along with lots of reward). most risks are tiny, part of a very long tail in the risk distribution, and it's literally impossible to plan for all of them.

since many mitigations also have tiny costs (like wearing seatbelts), it's reasonable to do them. planning for a car crash is reasonable (30-40K deaths/year in the US, over a million worldwide). planning for a plane crash is not (less than 1000 deaths/year worldwide, usually much less). i share an irrational fear of flying, but i keep my irrational fear in check with this kind of information.

we should individually spend very little time worrying about and planning for plane crashes, terrorism (in the US particularly), child abductions, school shootings, and the like. the calculus can be different on a population level, so that doesn't absolve governments from worry about some of these things.

we should spend way more time worrying about heart disease (exercise & diet), cancer (food & chemicals, sunscreen), respiratory disease (smoking, air pollution/filtration), and accidental deaths (distracted driving, drug abuse) [0]. with guns, worry about suicides and accidental shootings (safe storage/access) more than self-defense.

[0] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/282929.php

I fly. During critical phases you should be assuming something bad will happen and prepare for it. At least on the pilot end of things, we don’t like surprises so we put our ducks in a row for when shit goes sideways. The reason planes don’t fall out of the sky all the time is assumption of and preparation for failure. It’s why planes have redundant systems and it’s why our emergency checklists are memorized.

Being prepared and worried are two very different things.

If you can't separate those two, that's the problem to address - not simply dispensing with all preparation for the worst outcomes because YOLO.

This probably has a large amount of 'survivorship bias' embedded in it (no pun intended).

People who are frantic, time-critical, but not immediate life-threatening situations probably grab their bag (ie. the landing gear on plane has failed, but plane has stopped on runway intact and not on fire).

This probably differs significantly if the plane was ripped in half, or people were choking from thick toxic smoke. Those people probably don't even think about grabbing their bag because they are in active severe pain / dying.

Point is, people are making a rational decision that "This is a dangerous situation and I need to get out of here, but I will probably survive", therefore they take their stuff with them.

I'm not sure humans are very rational while in a panic. You hear a lot of stories of people being in life threatening situations and make irrational decisions, and the ones who survived saying they cannot explain why, but this one stupid thing they focused on was somehow extremely important to them at the time.

Similarly, I find it odd in those "real life crime" TV shows when cops comment on how someone's affect and demeanor "aren't right" following a murder.

Because you don’t act rationally in a disaster:

In moments of total disaster — plane crashes or terrorist attacks — something happens in our brains that affects the way we think. We behave differently, often irrationally. Consider the World Trade Center workers who, on Sept. 11, dithered at their desks, calling relatives, turning off computers and pondering which mementos to rescue from their desks even as the doomed jets burned above their heads.

In The Unthinkable, Ripley cites a National Institute of Standards and Technology study that showed that those who made it out of the WTC waited an average of six minutes after the plane hit their building before heading for the exit and walking slowly — not running — down the stairs.

Ripley searches for patterns in human behavior by interviewing hundreds of people who lived through catastrophes. Quick-witted survivors are surprisingly anomalous. One fellow who made it through a horrific aircraft disaster in 1977 happened to be sitting on the runway reading an in-flight safety instruction card when another plane crashed into his. He grabbed his wife, leapt through a hole in the fuselage, and turned to see his fellow passengers remaining docilely in their seats, immobile. Most of them died within minutes as fire swept through the wreckage.

The author concludes that all of us undergo a three-stage process when we find ourselves in mortal peril: denial, deliberation and the "decisive moment," during which the survivor buckles down and acts. The trick, she says, may be to understand our instincts, which, in a crisis, may betray us. Some people run toward infernos, not away, and even in the face of obvious impending disaster, some people just won't move.


When I am on a plane. Especially on foreign trips, quite a substantial amount of thoughts goes into not leaving anything behind, and thinking about scenarios what would happen if I lost or forgot something important. Of course everything of those items would be less important in a life and death situation but as my brain is already trained for holding onto my stuff I can understand why this happens.

I am not saying that this is a good thing but I think ingrained habits are hard to break.

What I’m wondering is how many of those people complaining on the Twitterverse did so while driving or otherwise putting others at risk.

We live to think we’d do otherwise, but if we are honest with ourselves, we know we’d do the same..

What if my bag contains my identification, prescriptions, inhaler? there are a lot of reasons to want your bag. What if you are a parent who carries things to maintain the health/safety of a small child, does your 2 year old take responsibility for their asthma medication?

Then you can carry it on your body while being on a plane. Would that be worth the inconvenience to you?

An inhaler and other medication along with your wallet, phone, and passport would pretty much completely fill your pockets. Also, better hope that nobody pickpockets you because you can't get refills for certain medication.

So perhaps you can carry it only on takeoff and before landing, when there's a higher chance of survival/emergency evacuation anyway.




Please don't do this here.

Do you really think the authorities that will be shepherding you from the plane crash are going to deny you asthma medicine after the event?

No, but they might not travel with a pharmacy, they might not arrive right away, I might have inhaled smoke prior to their arrival or during the emergency exit. Based on your experience with asthma, smoke inhalation, asthma attacks, first responders etc. which must be vast, would you risk the life of yourself or toddler on the off chance the first firefighter you see has an inhaler in his pocket?

If it meant the difference between me possibly not getting off the burning plane, yes I would. You don't need to have experience with asthma to know that getting off of a burning plane is better than dying and getting other innocent people killed while reaching for a bag.

I think it reveals that we should relieve people of the choice.

If it's not feasible to train and educate people until the proper behaviour is a muscle memory, then maybe we need to find a way to eliminate choice.

what do you mean? like lock down the overhead bins so people can't get to their stuff?

Exactly. It could have saved someone's life.

I thought about this solution as well and I came to the conclusion that it might worsen the situation even more: people panicking trying to force the overhead compartment could slow the evacuation even more. You need just one panicked passenger trying to force the lock to block a whole plane.

It would also be a quite challenging technical problem: are compartments locked the whole flight? Are they locked only on emergencies? If so: who thinks of locking them when an emergency occurs? I admit I don't know much about emergency procedures for flight attendants.

It's far too premature and ill-prepared to armchair solution workshop. My point is that maybe the solution is to funnel humans towards a behaviour rather than hoping for rational behaviour

Because it is not fined?

I mean, if the options are a 20k fine or leaving your bag, then for most people the choice is simple.

It'd probably work better as an incentive: $20k compensation for everyone who leaves without a bag.

If we're going to legalize something - how about requiring that airlines (or their insurance) compensate passengers for all expenses related to restoring their stuff lost in an accident?

Then the choice is also simple, and it sounds way better than fining or prosecuting accident victims.

Article did not breach a few points.

First, why is there no law or clear punishment against grabbing your luggage in an emergency or otherwise obstructing the safe exit from the plane? If someone were intentionally obstructing others in this or in another situation (burning building) that would clearly be most likely seen as some type of crime. Why not here?

Why no announcement on the plane? (Back up by the 'federal crime' as they do with smoking in the lavatory).

> Psychologists caution, though, against being too quick to judge.

The fact that there should be no judgement or we should not think we would do different does not detract that people might have to get drilled into them not to follow some particular behavior. It's almost as if the psychologists and trying to give the behavior a pass.

> That passenger reaching for the bag with his favorite sweater or maybe a present for his kid? He’s probably just acting human.

Not really. What is human about prioritizing a 'present for your kid' or 'your favorite sweater'? That's irrational. Non adult. And actually child like. People should not get a pass for doing stupid things.

> grabbing for possessions is more common than one might think

Actually what is probably happening is people see other people grab things and then mimic that behavior. You see the same type of thing with traffic. One person does a u turn and then a bunch of people follow.

> “We have in the past publicly commented on the need for passengers to leave carry-on items behind during an emergency,” said Christopher O’Neil'

I wish there were no speeding laws and tickets and the state just gave that type of friendly reminder!

> The fact that there should be no judgement or we should not think we would do different does not detract that people might have to get drilled into them not to follow some particular behavior.

> I wish there were no speeding laws and tickets

I understand what you’re saying, and as a driver and frequent flier, appreciate both points.

Unfortunately, the reality is in absolute numbers:

There are large numbers of people speeding daily, and large numbers of people dying on the roads daily, globally.

There are orders of magnitude fewer numbers of people flying on planes that perform emergency disembarking events, and more orders of magnitude fewer people dying in these instances.

Given the frequency of reminders getting drilled into drivers that speed kills, who continue to speed frequently, how frequent would reminders to not grab possessions in an emergency situation actually have to be in order to be effective?

The base premise of the point to not judge is that in an emergency situation, some people are acting on instinct.

Meanwhile people who speed are more often making a conscious decision to do so based on their own view of road conditions.

The main idea is law and punishment not just reminders. And the punishment needs to be done in a way that people take notice not slap on the wrist (because in some cases that can and would backfire). If it's important (and it is) it's important to insure a big enough punishment (at the discretion of a judge) to make people completely not even think of doing it.

> it's important to insure a big enough punishment (at the discretion of a judge) to make people completely not even think of doing it

So what punishment would keep people from speeding? The best I can think of that would be effective on me would be to immediately suspend my license for some period of time, and potentially immediately impound my vehicle too. Maybe 1 week per % caught over the speed limit? The current system doesn't stop me speeding (as demonstrated earlier today) when there's a nice big gap between me and the car in front. Plus I'm gonna learn those repercussions faster than my car's going after that's impacted me, anyone I know, or even seen on the news that it's actually being enforced. It's in my interests to now learn this and stop misbehaving, as it's something that impacts my day to day life.

Meanwhile, how do you now find a way to educate people about a punishment that has a tiny percentage chance of being relevant to them twice a year? And how do you hold it up in court, when the entire defence is then predicated on "they weren't thinking, it wasn't a conscious decision, they were in a state of fear?"

Indeed some people are acting on instinct. Airlines know this all too well, and yet, to unfasten a seat belt on the airplane you have to pull, while to unfasten car seat belt you have to push. In an emergency situation, fair amount of people will fallback to their instinct to push to unfasten and loose precious seconds.

If you're poor though, losing that stuff could mean very bad things in the future. Would you be okay with those people staying on board until everyone else has gone and then grabbing their stuff? I would probably be willing to be the last to leave if it meant I could take my stuff.

Edit: even if it meant that I'd be taking considerable risk.

> If you're poor though, losing that stuff

Poor? If you are flying on an airplane you aren't rich but you also probably aren't so poor that your worldly possessions lost are worth another person's life.

> Would you be okay with those people staying on board until everyone else has gone and then grabbing their stuff?

Makes no practical sense. For one thing you have people that are on inside seats and 2nd the idea is it's an emergency and everyone has to get out.

> I would probably be willing to be the last to leave if it meant I could take my stuff.

So you think you are in a position to evaluate the risk from some unknown in most if not all situations sitting on the inside of the airplane? And what about the risk to first responders? You think they should have to risk their life because you or someone needs to get out their personal belongings? Even if you have medication that can be replaced and if it's so critical carry it in a fanny pack.

I wrote a different reply earlier, but I scaled it back a little.

>Poor? If you are flying on an airplane you aren't rich but you also probably aren't so poor that your worldly possessions lost are worth another person's life.

Of course worldly possessions aren't worth another person's life, but I have flown before when I had $10-20 to my name (somebody else paid for the plane ticket). Having nothing in a foreign country isn't simple nor are all the things replaceable even if you do have some money. Even then, if you have next to nothing then the contents of your baggage might be very important after "life goes back to normal". If you have very little money and most of your clothes burn then you can't really remedy that situation.

Of course I don't think first responders should risk their life for someone life me, but it's not possible to opt out from that.

Nor do I think that I would be able to tell the severity of the situation, but there have been times where I would consider it worth risking my own life for it.

I'm not sure how these would add up. Perhaps the best idea for someone like me would be to not fly.

I think the thing I'm taking away from this is that for some people, there are some material possessions they have that if they lost, their lives could be significantly impacted in a very negative way.

Plenty of people live paycheck to paycheck (tragically in the USA, this applies to the majority), depend on their ability to drive to and from work in order to make a living, and have little to no job security. If they've made the effort to scrimp and save for long enough to be able to finally afford a holiday and now that plane goes down, losing their drivers license and car keys is going to impact their ability to get to work. Even if it's just a day or two extra, that can be the difference between having a job and not having a job. Which can be the difference between having a meal and not having a meal, having a roof over your head and living on the streets.

"Those people should keep their vital possessions on their persons" is all well and good, but see plenty of sibling comments to people who do make an effort to plan for the worst case scenarios, about how ridiculous it is for them to be wasting that effort.

We are humans. We don't follow exact scripts in the moments that we're able to enjoy our lives, we just live, and sometimes things don't always go to plan.

I think you summed it up very nicely. It's unfortunate that people are in that type of a life situation, but we can't really do anything about it yet.

There are a lot of things that, if done individually, make sense, but if the whole group does it there is a problem. Leaving your bag behind means that you have to replace it later which costs a lot and takes time. So it makes sense to avoid this trouble. It also makes sense to rush to wards the exit if there is a fire but if everyone does it you have a problem.

Perhaps the overhead bins should be lockable from the cockpit?

This is the same thought I had as well and when I thought about it a bit and although it does have some utility draw backs (have to ask the flight attendant to open the bin to get something from your bag) it seems like it would also have some other benefits for safety as well such as preventing people from opening the bins when the fasten seatbelts sign is on, or popping open during turbulence.

I'm pretty forgetful, and so over the years I've trained myself to automatically keep a list of stuff I have on me, and do a quick check whenever I move from place to place to make sure I'm not leaving anything behind. Over the years, this has become an almost subconcious process.

So I suspect in a similar disaster I might be one of those people grabbing their luggage, just because in a panic I can see myself mindlessly "defaulting" to my usual routine as I get up to try and escape.

Does the shift to charging for checked bags make this worse? I suspect this choice is new to most people since they used to have that stuff locked away from sight.

Why? I can think of two reasons. Habit. This is pretty powerful. I've deplaned a normal plane at least a hundred times. I've deplaned from a burning plane zero times. Second is, especially in the digital age, my laptop, phone, go pro, all have digital data that is irreplaceable that I may not have backed up yet.

Because I didn’t push my code yet, obviously.

This is a well-known post ussr feature "do not give a #it about anyone but yourself".

I wonder why you're downvoted. I live in a former Soviet state and my impression is that the Soviet era taught people to always prioritize your own stuff, because nobody else will care about it.

I spent some time in Azerbaijan and I was amazed at how much the locals helped us out. We had a mechanical break down and random strangers stopped to help us out. They actually fixed our car and got us back on the road! It was mind-blowing, genuine love for fellow humans and it deeply affected me.

That said, of course that's a microscopic sample size in a vast empire. No doubt it's not representative.

That is very typical in the Caucasus. I have countless of stories of people going completely out of their way to help out and requesting nothing back in return, but instead maybe even invite you for a dinner with their family. Incredibly hospitable region.

It could be that my experience isn't representative though. But I've found that many people that are helpful and kind eventually get taken advantage of. Even those kind people probably wouldn't bat an eye when it came to stealing from the state though (at least strong the Soviet era). Pretty much everyone knew someone who skimmed things from the state here and there. Many people felt like they had to, because there wasn't always enough stuff to go around.

In the case of this story, people might be willing to help you find a place to sleep and even help you get home, but the stuff you lost is your business.

Sure, communism did taught people to act that way.

But doesn't Russia, historically, as a tough place to make a living, had that behaviour before communism ?

So kind of like the ruthless capitalism in the USA?

I have had the chance to live in a post-Sovietic place and travel constantly to the USA. I felt the Ex-soviet place has more a culture of helping others than the USA. (East Germany vs California).

It really depends where in the US. I've recently been the wild state of West Virginia, and while you can meet stereotypical "rednecks", every person i met in a position to help me helped me, and everyone was very welcoming. I did not experience the same in California except maybe around Bishop.


Then again, Soviet era was all about community and sharing and working for the good of your fellow man.

And then there's capitalism, which teaches you "to always prioritize your own stuff", because not only "nobody else will care about it", some of them actually have a financial interest in making you lose your stuff.

My point is: each era and each system has plenty of selfish assholes for its own reasons, boiling down to humans being humans. There's nothing here that's specific to Soviet culture, or American culture.

> Then again, Soviet era was all about community and sharing and working for the good of your fellow man.

Having lived there, I can say this is a myth.

Of course; this existed mostly in propaganda, but so does the grand-n-parent's claim that not caring about other people is related to USSR.

Having being born and lived in a post-Soviet state, and having still living family remembering these times, after many conversations with them I conclude that humans are humans, and there's no specific extra level to selfishness (or selflessness) that's specific to the Soviets.

Ask them what they thought about stealing from the state. Was it okay to do? How many people did they know back then that did it?

What kind of "stealing from the state" you mean? The common practice of appropriating materials from construction zones and using them to build/repair one's own house? If so, it's still present today in the west in the form of stealing office supplies from employers (and gas, through running private errands with company car). Bricks or pens, socialism or capitalism, it turns out if you provide people free goods that can be useful outside of their intended purpose, and there's no enforcement to prevent theft, a large enough fraction of people will start stealing, making it a recognizable phenomenon in social consciousness.

As someone who was born and raised in Soviet Union/Russia and spent half of my life there I read this article with a bit of amusement seeing Westerners trying to make sense of this typical Soviet behavior. You're absolutely right. If anyone has any interest in seeing how this kind of stuff plays out in Russia, try to find and watch movie The Fool [1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fool_(2014_film)

I often have my backpack stowed under the seat in front of me. I could theoretically put it on while still seated. But I'm sure I'll be fractions faster if I'm not wearing it.

i'm first aid / pre-hospital rescue trained and i carry a small first aid kit in my bag at all times.

I'm going to be more useful if I take my bag, and I can have it out from under the seat in front of me and around my body in seconds.

So yeah, I'm taking my bag.

Paywall and outline doesn't seem to work with NYT.

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