Air NZ emergency exit used to hang bags
Ensuring all items are stowed in the overhead locker or under a seat is a universally understood rule for flyers but it appears some cabin crew missed the memo.
A passenger on an Air New Zealand flight from Auckland to Perth recently spotted airline staff leaving drinks trays, water bottles and laundry bags on an emergency door handle. They sought an explanation.
In response, a spokesperson for the national carrier said there was no impact on the safety of its customers around the placement of the water bottle or the linen bag on the door handle.
‘‘As the aircraft is pressurised in-flight, the placement of these items do not present a risk of inadvertent door opening. In the event of a prepared emergency, these items would be stowed.’’
It is impossible to open a door while the cabin is pressurised but if a pilot is aware of an emergency situation, they can descend to a lower altitude and depressurise the cabin so the flight crew can open the exit door if needed.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which sets and maintains the rules that airlines follow to fly safely, requires aircraft cabins be secured for take-off and landing. That means anything that could block an exit or hinder evacuation must be stowed during the ‘‘critical phases of flight’’.
A CAA spokesperson said while there was no rule around crew placing items on the door handle or slide bustle, best practice would suggest not to do so.
After being approached by CAA’s cabin safety inspector about best practice, Air New Zealand appears to have done a 180 on its initial stance.
‘‘They have advised that they don’t endorse a door to be used as a hangar or a bench and will communicate this with their crew,’’ the CAA spokesperson said.
A passenger on an Air New Zealand flight saw crew hanging a laundry bag on an emergency door handle.