“Women and Children First”?

Friday, January 16, 2009

First of all, so much for the equality of men and women, but that’s not the point.

Chivalry notwithstanding, is the mantra some people were apparently shouting on board US Airways Flight 1549 after it hit the Hudson yesterday really the most effective, life savings strategy for evacuating an aircraft in an emergency? (Heaven forbid, could it actually be US Airways or FAA policy?!)

I don’t think so. As someone who’s spent more time than I would like at 35,000 feet, I can personally attest to the cramped seats and narrow aisle which make an orderly “deplaning” at the gate take too much time. Take away the need for people to get their stuff from the overhead bins, it’s still a time consuming process.

Now imagine the unimaginable. The plane’s crashed landed on the Hudson, and filling rapidly with subfreezing water. It’s sinking, how fast, no one knows. Only the front, cockpit and over the wing exit doors are open, fearing that opening the back doors will flood the ship all that more quickly.

Under the circumstances, does it make sense to hold men at the exit doors, impeding the flow of passengers from other, more distant rows of the plane? No. That’s ridiculous.

To get everyone off as quickly as possible – including women and children in the more distant rows who, in this case would have been in the sinking, water-filled rear of the plane – you want the people nearest the open doors – regardless of their gender or age – to exit first, as quickly as possible.

If I were a woman or child in the back of Flight 1549, waiting for us to squeeze past or hop over other passengers could just end up killing me and some of those other passengers with kindness.

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2 responses to ““Women and Children First”?

  1. i agree with you that “women and children first” is silly. men are equally as important. however, there is a spirit of compassion in the saying and i say, let’s take compassion wherever we can get it.

  2. Thanks for the comment, ac. Looking forward to commenting on your stuff someday soon. -wf

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