A wounded passenger jet descends rapidly. Oxygen masks are deployed. The captain alerts the cabin to brace for impact and you're onboard. What do you do? Luckily for cautious (or paranoid) frequent fliers on British Airways, the airline offers a special course designed to train passengers for these sorts of "hope it never happens" moments.
As Scott Mayerowitz of the Associated Press reports, the class costs £162 (about $264), though most participants are sent by their companies at no out-of-pocket cost. In the past ten years, more than 15,000 people have taken the course. British Airways hopes those who have would emerge as leaders-by-example should an emergency occur:
"Some passengers freeze or melt down in an emergency. If they see someone quickly, calmly and confidently following a flight attendant's instructions to evacuate, they might do the same."
So what if your bank account is dried up or you can't make it out to London-Heathrow for a class? While you'll sadly miss out on the simulated crash, theatrical smoke and emergency slide escape, you can still teach yourself how to brace properly, all in the comfort of your own home. British Airways Safety Instructor Andy Clubb explained proper procedure to Mayerowitz:
"Bend forward as far as possible, keep your head down. Place your feet flat on the floor and slide them back. Your dominant hand goes on the back of your head. Protect that hand by placing the other hand over it. Do not interlock fingers. The goal is to ensure that the bones in the stronger hand aren't broken so you can eventually unbuckle the seatbelt."
The other vital thing to take away is that, despite the existence of this course, your chances of actually having to put its lessons to use are extremely low. Mayerowitz explains:
"Each day, 8.3 million people around the globe step aboard some 93,500 flights. They almost always land safely. In the past decade, there have only been 138 crashes worldwide that had fatalities, according to aviation consultancy Ascend."
So don't sweat it too much if you can't attend. What the course really seeks to do is instill confidence in passengers, and there's no bigger boon to confidence than the fact that you're actually more likely to be struck by lightning than to die in a plane crash.
Keep reading at ABC News
Photo credit: Kamenetskiy Konstantin / Shutterstock
For more on disaster preparedness, check out our series of Big Think Interviews with survival expert Laurence Gonzales: