We often hear about emergency landings and how people are taking their luggage when evacuating. News like this goes like a shock wave that makes all world wondering: Why did passengers save their luggage, thus blocking emergency exits rather than helping each other? Sadly, this action usually ends with many people’s deaths. When a new catastrophe is happening, passengers save their luggage rather than each other, Why?

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Skycap invited Rosita Kanapecka, a lecturer and psychologist at the Aviation Institute of Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, to explain the behavior of air passengers in an emergency.

People did not grab their luggage – their instincts did

“Some just imitated others. I believe that nobody thought about their expensive sweater and that it should be saved. In extreme conditions like these, our brains work in a completely different way. Instincts determine whether a person will fight, run or stagnate. If one took his suitcase, others did the same. People didn’t have the time or resources to think differently, ”says aviation expert Rosita Kanapeckaite.

save their luggage
People carrying their luggage after plane crash

The psychologist recommends analyzing the behavior of the flight crew rather than passengers. “Finding the perpetrators is a way to put up with the tragedy, but that doesn’t change anything. The instinct for survival is at the heart of every human being’s nature – when we fly an airplane, we still retain the prehistoric notion that flying is for birds. Times change, people travel more and more, but our nature remains the same. So the flight crew should set an example – they are trained to control their instincts. ”

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“In such situations, passengers experience two emotions: fear of death and doubt. Even if the passengers’ behavior seems illogical or unreasonable, they are just trying to survive, ”explains Rosita Kanapeckaite.

More and more people are saving their luggage. Why?

The New York Times has investigated that airline passengers who are eager to take their belongings out of the luggage compartment in crisis situations have become a big problem to stewards, whose task is to quickly evacuate the plane. The American newspaper quotes Sarah Nelson, Stewart, and president of the Association of Communications Specialists, who reveals: “Recent incidents have seen this problem over and over again – in emergency situations, passengers try to save their luggage.”

Kanapeckaite points out that in air travel, people experience other types of stress and fear of flying is one of the most common phobias. “Flight creates the feeling that one has lost control of the situation. In addition, some passengers experience claustrophobia, a feeling of being in a tight space with many strangers. It can lead to anxiety and irrational behavior, ” says a psychology expert.

Training for accidents is not your job

There are several tips that can help in unexpected situations. Wearing practice clothing and avoiding flammable materials like nylon and polyester can save your life. If instinct makes you run away, it is better to do so inappropriate footwear. High-heeled shoes and sandals are the worst choices in such a situation. The best thing a person can do is listen carefully and follow the safety briefing. The rescue instruction is not there for a reason.


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‘Preparing for accidents is not the responsibility of the passengers. Pilots and flight attendants should be adequately trained in how to follow people. If you fly twice a year, you will not be able to prepare yourself for emergencies. You just don’t expect them ”says Kanapeckaite.

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