Creating a Culture of Inflight SAFETY

Answer this question: “What part of your seat can be used as a floatation device?”  If you answered “seat cushion” you either listened closely to the flight attendant’s safety briefing or you have flown enough to be able to give the flight attendant safety briefing.

But, “why does it matter anyway?”

That was the question posed by my 10-year-old daughter on a recent flight from Houston to New York City.  Before I could respond with some humorous comment, which no doubt would have been met with the look only daughters can give their fathers, she followed-up by saying, “No one pays attention to the safety briefing anyway.”

Looking around the cabin, I had to admit she had a point…lots of people reading newspapers, several well into their books, two carrying on a conversation I’m sure the pilots could hear and a few already asleep (how do they do that?).

So why does it matter if we listen to the flight attendant’s safety briefing…and why is my daughter’s point worth thinking about?

Besides the obvious — so we’ll know what to do in the event of an emergency — there is an equally important answer.

A culture, or in this case a culture of safety, is defined as the beliefs and behaviors passed along from one generation to the next.  We create that culture by what we personally demonstrate as well as what we reward and tolerate in other people.

Why do people demonstrate a lack of interest when it’s time to listen to the flight attendant’s safety briefing?  Usually it’s because that person has flown enough to become complacent; thinking, I have never needed this information before so chances are I won’t need it this time.  And, because of the airlines’ outstanding commitment to passenger safety that is normally the case.

Unfortunately, this bullet-proof, it won’t happen to me, behavior won’t help in the unlikely event an incident was to occur.  What’s worse is the message passed on to the child sitting next to you that it is okay not to pay attention when it comes to safety.

So, next time you’re asked to please pay attention to an important safety briefing ask yourself what your behavior is demonstrating to the next generation of flyer.

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