Racism, outrage, and humour followed on social media after this video showing Indian passengers frantically scrambling for baggage following a crash-landing by Emirates flight EK521 in Dubai International Airport. Carrying 300 passengers including crew members, the flight from Thiruvananthapuram to Dubai caught fire minutes after crash-landing, leading many to wonder if it was more important to save their bags or lives?
And despite a flight attendant calling Indian passengers “rats” who have “no idea the danger they’re in”, history will show you that this ‘mentality’ of rushing to save one’s belongings isn’t particularly an instinct from the subcontinent.
Last year, pilots lambasted passengers on-board a British Airways flight, who insisted on carrying their baggage, including wheeled suitcases, as the plane went up in smoke. The BA flight from Las Vegas to London caught fire during take-off.
But it’s not just passengers in the West, who are prone to fleeing with their bags. Pictures from the 2013 Asiana Airlines flight from Seoul to San Francisco also showed several passengers running with their cabin luggage. Many passengers, however, defended themselves following an onslaught of criticism saying they were only grabbing their bags that had their money and passports and weren’t blocking the aisle.
An aborted take-off by a Cathay Pacific flight from Shanghai in 2011 saw passengers jumping down emergency slides with bag and baggage in hand.
In 2005, an Air France flight from Paris to Toronto crashed into a nearby creek after landing. While all passengers survived, many were seeing running out of the burns plane with their belongings.
Aviation safety consultant Captain Mohan Ranganathan tweeted to say it was “irritating to see contemptuous comments on the web about Indians. Happens everywhere.”