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What To Do When Your Plane Is Evacuated
Last month, I experienced a unique travel first: being evacuated from a plane on the tarmac at O’Hare. I had just gotten comfy and the pilot had just come on board to make his welcome announcement when a flight attendant stopped him.
A few minutes later, we were told tornados had been spotted in the area and that we would need to get off the plane immediately. They instructed passengers to leave their bags behind and get off the plane.
I grabbed my tote with my passport, laptop, and wallet and got off the plane.
If you grew up in Texas like I did, you know what to do in the event of a tornado—get away from windows and hide under a desk.
Passengers were ushered into an underground walkway connecting terminals B & C. I found myself an alcove spot near a wall that wasn’t too far from the escalators. I knew I didn’t want to get trampled in whatever rush back to the gates would follow.
About 45 minutes later passengers were cleared to return to their flights. But some of them had followed instructions exactly when they were told to deplane and leave everything behind.
It might seem like common sense to grab your phone and ID when running off a plane, but when you think a tornado is headed for your plane I can see how you could run off without those key items. Especially when flight crews sound freaked out, cell service is spotty, and information is scarce.
Should you ever find yourself being evacuated from a plane because of tornados, leave your roll-aboard bags behind but bring your purses, IDs and phones. Expect information and instructions to be limited or unclear, especially at first.
Find a spot away from the windows—either an interior restroom or a tunnel between terminals—and hang tight. Fierce summer storms can pass just as quickly as they appear. We were back on the plane and in the air en route to Scotland about two hours later.
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For A Different Leaf, I wrote a stoner’s guide to Portland, Oregon. You’ll have to buy the magazine to read the story, but you can listen to the podcast here.
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