Asiana Airlines

Asiana Airlines crash details will help train future flight attendants

Trainees practice sliding down evacuation ramp

Photo by Harriet Baskas


Singapore Airlines may be known for its iconic “Singapore Girl” flight attendants, who have a reputation for grace, beauty and award-winning service, but don’t be fooled — the crew members roaming the cabin are also well-versed on safety and emergency-response procedures.

“We want them to make sure passengers have not just an enjoyable flight, but a safe one,” said safety training executive Joseph Kwok.

Singapore Air’s rigorous training program for cabin attendants includes the study of previous crashes. The details of the Asiana Airlines crash landing at San Francisco International on July 6 are already an informal part of the course syllabus.

“One lesson we can learn from the Asiana evacuation is that it was successful because the crew responded the way they were trained,” Kwok said.

Singapore Airlines’ grueling 15-week training program is one of the longest of its kind — the programs of major U.S. carriers typically last between five and nine weeks.

In addition to classes in grooming, social skills and cabin service, Singapore Air’s course includes a 14-day safety section with classes in emergency procedures, first aid and security and drills specific to different types of planes. At every stage of the program students are tested before they are allowed to move on.

Fast evacuations equal more survivors

Evacuation through door of Silk Air A320

Photo by Harriet Baskas


During a visit to the airline’s main training center in Singapore this week, loud yelling could be heard from a training capsule that looked like the cabin of an A320. Students were conducting an evacuation exercise, yelling memorized commands in a precise order.

“The faster you can get people out of the plane, the higher the survival probability,” said Kwok. “That was proven by the Asiana crew.”

Safety Training mockup plane

photo by Harriet Baskas


The hangar-sized facility also has a very tall platform with a funny-looking fuselage on top of it — the cabin door section of a Boeing 777 is at one end and a slice of an Airbus A380 is at the other. The height of the platform mimics the average height the cabin doors would be from the ground so that, among other things, students get to experience what it would be like exiting the plane via the emergency chute.

Water Evacuation Training Pool _with waves

Photo by Harriet Baskas



There’s a slight chlorine smell in the hallway leading to the water survival training class, which takes place in a large pool with a wave generator that simulates conditions at sea — “minus the sharks,” said Kwok. Here trainees learn ditching procedures as well as slide-raft boarding and launching. Female flight attendants learn to do this all while wearing the Singapore Airlines iconic sarong-style uniform.

Passengers on alert

Cabin attendants on carriers in the United States and elsewhere can skip the sarong-swimming lessons, but they must all pass an annual refresher course in safety measures.

In addition to reviewing medical and evacuation procedures, this annual recurrent training often includes discussion of accidents and incidents that occurred the year before. “We discuss what went wrong, how the crew reacted and how they could have done things differently,” said Heather Poole, a flight attendant on a major U.S. carrier and author of “Cruising Attitude.”

In the aftermath of plane crashes, passengers are “extremely attentive,” said Sara Keagle, a veteran flight attendant and author of “The Flight Attendant Survival Guide.” “The difference with the Asiana incident is that the flight attendants seem to be finally getting recognition for the job they did as first responders.”

And while the Asiana crash shines a light on the job performance of flight attendants, Poole predicts fearful passengers will start asking about the experience of the pilots on board.

“But just know,” she said, “flight attendants wouldn’t work a flight if they felt uncomfortable with the cockpit crew.”

(My story about flight attendant training courses first appeared on NBC News Travel)


Diversions, waivers following Asiana Airline crash at SFO Airport

Some airlines are offering waivers for passengers scheduled to fly to or from SFO, in light of the Asiana Airlines crash.

So far:

American Airlines

Delta Air Lines

Frontier Airlines

Jet Blue

Southwest Airlines

United Airlines

Virgin America

(More to come…)

Lots of flights diverted today to other airports due to the crash of an Asiana Airlines plane at SFO. Here’s a report sent out at 5:53 west coast time tonight on the flights diverted to Sea-Tac Airport: 

“In total we had six international diversions, all flights inbound to SFO diverted on their way. SEA recorded three domestic flight cancellations from SEA-SFO (two Virgin American, one United). With the reopening of runways at SFO, several are now on their way to their destination. For further details, check with the specific airlines.”

List of international diversions (note updates on some flight numbers):

British Air #285 from London, held at gate, now departed to SFO

Emirates #225  From Dubai, held at gate, now departed to SFO

United #902 from Frankfurt, flight cancelled, passengers accommodated overnight

United #927 from Frankfurt, diversion was scheduled to arrive at 6:30pm, but is now going to Portland. 

SwissAir #38 from Zurich, refueled and departed to SFO

Air France #84 from Paris, held at gate and departed to SFO

 For updates, see the SEA flight information page.

At Sacramento International Airport, spokesperson Rosemary Barnes reports that SJC received 25 diverted flights from SFO today, four of which where still planning to land this evening.  Two of these 25 flights were international; one each from GDL (Guadalajara) and PVR (Puerto Vallarta).

“All passengers have deplaned and were transported off-site through a number of methods, including coach buses chartered by some of our airlines.”

And, here’s a link to the FAA statement sent out Saturday evening in regard to this crash.








Spotted at LAX: Happy Mom service

Passing through the International Terminal (TBIT) at Los Angeles International Airport last week I noticed signs at the Asiana Airlines check-in lines for something called Happy Mom Service.

Asiana Airlines Happy Mom Service

I got in line and found out that Happy Mom Service gives moms traveling with babies an expedited check-in line, complimentary breastfeeding covers and infant slings, and cabin baby seat installation and rental. The service also offers express boarding and express baggage delivery for moms with infants.

Asiana tested the service at Incheon International Airport and at airports in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, London, Frankurt, Paris, and Sydney and last year expanded the service to all airports it serves.

Great idea!

Asiana Airlines Happy mom poster