Miami Airport RED Air crash landing: Passengers wheeled suitcases off flight during emergency evacuation

The passengers who grabbed their bags before exiting a plane that caught fire after its landing gear collapsed in Miami are far from an anomaly.

Video footage of travellers heading for the emergency chute on the RED Air flight showed some carrying bags and wheeling suitcases, raising concerns that they may have held up an evacuation in which every second was critical.

Aviation writer Edward Russell from Skift took to social media when the video footage emerged online.

"Can we have a frank discussion about travelers taking luggage with them during an emergency evacuation?" he wrote.


But research and other plane emergencies suggest many others would have acted in much the same way.

A 2018 survey by the UK's Royal Aeronautical Society found that more than a third of respondents would ignore warnings in a plane emergency and grab their possessions.

The research, which quizzed 2000 travellers, found that 35 per cent would attempt to bring their belongings with them in an emergency.


Terry Buckland, chairman of the Royal Aeronautical Society, told the Daily Mail that the survey had some "worrying findings".

"Airline operator safety briefings instruct passengers to leave all their belongings in the event of an emergency evacuation for clear safety reasons," he said.

"Passengers will not have a full appreciation of the nature and seriousness of an emergency and should not be ignoring or questioning crew commands."

Those who insist on retrieving luggage in times of crisis have become a major concern for flight attendants, who are responsible for evacuating aircraft quickly.

"We have seen this issue of passengers trying to get their bags in an emergency over and over again in recent accidents," Sara Nelson, president of the US Association of Flight Attendants-CWA union, told the New York Times.

"This has been identified as a safety risk by the [US] National Transportation Safety Board and confirmed by the Federal Aviation Administration."

The issue of passengers evacuating planes with bags was also brought to light in 2015, when images emerged of travellers fleeing a British Airways jet which had caught fire in Las Vegas with carry-on luggage.

More recently, Instagram user, Fly With Tony, captured passengers evacuating a Ryanair flight in Barcelona with small suitcases.

If you have to evacuate an aircraft, your sole priority should be to get out as quickly as you can, Frank Jackman, a spokesman for the US Flight Safety Foundation, a non-profit organisation that provides guidance and resources for the aviation and aerospace industry, told The New York Times.

"There's not much in your carry-on luggage worth dying for," he said. "And you wouldn't want to be the reason for someone else getting injured."

The RED Air flight crash-landed on the runway at Miami International Airport US with 126 people on board.

The fire started after the MD-82 jetliner's landing gear collapsed on arrival from the Dominican Republic, Miami-Dade Aviation Department spokesman Greg Chin said.

Three passengers were taken to a hospital with minor injuries, while the others were bussed to the terminal.