What would you do if the airline cabin suddenly lost pressure?

airplane air maskI frequently travel on a commercial airline for work and vacation.  Sometimes a month or two goes by and I realize that I have barely listened to the airline attendants as they recite their prepared safety speech before take-off. You know the speech I mean, the one that tells you what to do in the unlikely event that something bad happens.

Each airline has basically the same message: how to operate the seat belt so you remain safely in your seat in the event of turbulence; how to inflate the life jacket so you don’t sink in the event of a crash landing in the water; how to find the exits in the event that the cabin fills with smoke; and of course how to use the oxygen mask so you can breathe in the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure.

According to the FAA, from 2002 – 2007 there were only .01 fatal airline accidents per 100,000 flight hours or .018 fatal accidents per 100,000 departures. So, why do they repeat this same message on every flight if the rate of fatal accidents is so low?

I don’t know about you, but even one fatal airline accident is one too many for me.  If any of those events happen I want to be well prepared to avoid a catastrophe.  This is why at those times when I realize I have not really listened to the safety message from the flight attendants in a while; I put down my book, pick up the safety folder from the seat pocket and follow along.

This idea holds true in your business as well.  Do you really know what to do in the event of a business emergency?  Have you thought about what could go wrong and decide now which plan you would follow?  Like an airline accident, there isn’t much time to review options when you are in the middle of a crisis.

You may say I don’t experience anything as fateful as an airline crash in my business; not many of us do.  But everyone experiences some potentially disastrous events that need a well-planned response. How do you handle customer complaints for example? Do you quickly resolve the issue then review and correct the root cause? What would you do if a new technology is invented that threatens to render one of your products obsolete? Would you reach out to your customers to understand their needs? What do you do when you have a dispute between employees?  Is there an escalation and resolution process?  Anyone of these events, if not handled correctly, could be damaging to your business. But if there is a well thought out plan that is understood by all, disaster can be avoided.

I hope that you never encounter any crisis events in your business.  But in the off chance that you may, I encourage you to talk about your plans and practice your plans so you can execute your plans and continue your success.


2 Responses to What would you do if the airline cabin suddenly lost pressure?
  1. Marnie

    Denis, great reminder that we still need to listen, even though we have heard a version committed to memory. We may hear something new, become aware that something need our focus that as a leader may need action. Also, I do like the flight attendants that make the announcements fun. Hmmm, think that may say something!

  2. admin

    Great add Marnie. Laughter is a great way to grab everyone’s attention.