There is something completely wrong with the picture above, which was taken on Southwest Flight 1380. In case you don’t know, an engine issue resulted in a window being broken and an explosive decompression of the cabin.

This of course meant passenger oxygen masks deployed as the aircraft was above 14,000 feet. Marty Martinez was on board and took to social media to document the event as it occurred. His picture reveals one glaring mistake.

Passengers Doing It Wrong

Oxygen masks are there to provide you with breathable air while the aircraft descends to around 10,000 feet. At that point, you can take the masks off and breathe normally.

When the masks deploy, you should pull the mask towards you and this activates the flow of oxygen. Next, you put the mask over your nose and mouth and put the elastic strap around your head so the mask is held against your face.

Not only is this shown in pictures on the safety card, it is demonstrated at the start of each flight either by the cabin crew or on a safety video. There is no real reason not to know how to do this.

In the picture from Southwest 1380, the three main people are holding the masks to their mouths, with two of them not even using the elastic to hold it in place. It is just wrong! What part of “put the mask over your nose and mouth and secure it with the elastic strap” is confusing?

Why Don’t People Listen To Safety Demonstrations?

While breathing through your mouth and holding the mask there will work perfectly well, it is not how it is designed to work. Your time of useful consciousness can be under a minute at the altitudes today’s commercial aircraft regularly fly, as you can see in the following table.

It baffles me why people can’t take five minutes out of checking their social media to pay attention at the start of the flight. I have flown hundreds of times and I always watch and listen to the demonstration, even when it is the same one I have seen countless times.

Overall Thoughts

Passengers getting it wrong is not new. Whenever an aircraft experiences an emergency evacuation, social media videos usually show people dragging their cabin bags along after them. You are specifically instructed not to take anything with you in an emergency, but they still do!

While flying is safe, one of the reasons is from all the learning through accidents over the years. The safety demonstration says what it says due to long hard experience. My thoughts are with the family of the lady who died in this event.

Do you pay attention to the safety video when you fly? If not, why not? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Marty Martinez.
Time of Useful Consciousness from SKYbrary.