Airline safety announcement kills 17 people



I flew to Manila last week and I timed how long they spent telling me how to do up my seatbelt. 7 seconds.

I know, it’s only 7 seconds … but really, is there anyone flying an airplane who doesn’t know how to do up a seatbelt. Surely that’s redundant by now.

Apparently there are 3 billion passengers flying every year (I looked it up). That’s 21 billion seconds of people’s lives wasted listening to someone explain how to do up a seatbelt. Or 666 years. And if the average passenger’s life expectancy is another 40 years (that one I made up), that’s the equivalent of killing 17 of those 3 billion passengers.

Taking someone’s last 40 years of life off them is pretty serious – if you did that you’d probably spend the rest of your life in jail. Wasting 7 seconds of someone’s life is not so serious, apparently even if you do it 3 billion times a year.

Someone, somewhere, made the decision that the safety belt announcement should be included on all flights. That may have been a legitimate decision back in 1957 when the safety briefing was first codified (I made that up too). But since then, someone has made the decision to keep it in. And while I don’t expect them to spend 666 years on the decision, I’m guessing they didn’t give it quite the gravity it deserves.

The same thing happens with email. Chris Anderson (the guy behind TED) says we are all drowning in email (hard to argue with that), and that the cause of the problem is “the total time taken to respond to an email is often MORE than the time it took to create it.”

I reckon that’s pretty profound. Write a letter, and it pretty much always takes longer to write than it takes for the recipient to read. This blog however is going to thousands of good folk, and the total time you and everyone else takes to read it is longer than it took me to write it.

Chris started an email charter which is think is pretty cool in response to this problem. The first rule encapsulates the whole charter:

  1. Respect Recipients Time. This is the fundamental rule. As the message sender, the onus is on YOU to minimize the time your email will take to process. Even if it means taking more time at your end before sending.

So if you’re sending an email to a lot of people, give it one more proofread before hitting send. And if you’re on the committee that decides what gets said in the airline safety announcements, we’re all good with the seatbelts now, thanks.

I’d love to hear your thoughts – who is disrespecting your time? You can leave them below.