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As you have probably seen, Southwest Flight #1380 from New York LaGuardia to Dallas Love Field diverted to Philadelphia today for an emergency landing after a significant issue with one engine that caused a nearby window to rupture and resulted in the death of one woman.
All of the images, audio, videos, and even a Facebook Live that was taken from that flight as it descended look absolutely horrific. How terrifying it would be to have a window blown and a person at least partially ejected from the plane that had to then be pulled back in by other passengers. No one should have to experience that regardless of their age, but my thoughts immediately turned to what would happen if it was a small child seated in that seat when the window blew.
— ABC News (@ABC) April 17, 2018
This is actually the first fatality on a US commercial flight since early 2009 when Colgan Air Flight 3407 from Newark to Buffalo which resulted in the death of all 49 passengers and crew, as well as one person on the ground. That’s a tremendous safety record, but it is devastating for a person to have boarded a plane today thinking they were heading to Dallas, only to never make it safely back to the ground.
Friends, buckle your seatbelts tightly. Keep them on as much as you can while in the air. Do the same for your kids. Pay attention during the safety briefing and mentally note where the emergency exits are in relation to your seat. If you need to use the oxygen mask, put it over your mouth and nose. Secure your own mask before assisting your children or others. Stay calm if something goes wrong on your flight and be ready to do what is necessary to keep yourself and others as safe as possible. The crew will be doing the same, even if they don’t have a chance to let you know what is happening.
If you have young children and you don’t want to unintentionally make them potentially fearful before their next flight, my advice is to not turn the evening news tonight on in their presence unless you are ready to work through today’s events if necessary. For older children, there is some value in working through what to do if a problem happens on a plane, but for younger children, the risks of scaring with the images and stories them may outweigh any potential safety lessons.
My heart breaks for the victim, her family and friends, all of the passengers and crew who experienced this trauma firsthand, and for the entire Southwest and aviation community who will collectively grieve this loss.
Flying is statistically extremely safe, but nothing is perfect and nothing is a given. I sat in a window seat and took off from Houston as I learned of the Southwest events today, but I did so with a tight seatbelt and a feeling of gratitude for every safe flight that I have experienced, and a hope for many more.
We’ll be sending our love to all involved with Southwest 1380.