Surely You're Prepared On An Airplane
Who doesn't enjoy the movie, "Airplane?" Few of us are qualified to take over the controls if the pilot is incapacitated, but what can you do to be prepared for a survivable crash or a hijacking attempt?
I carried a pocket knife of some sort on every flight I took from about the age of 12 until 9/11. As a kid, it was a Swiss Army Knife and a Buck folder, as an adult, it was usually a SAK and Spyderco. I figured out that sitting in the exit row not only gives me extra leg room for comfort, but maneuverability room and first access to the emergency exit. After 9/11, I've experimented with improvised weapons when I've flown. I always take a magazine with me. Rolled up tight, it can be used with fair effectiveness as a baton, or jabbing implement (the throat is my favorite target, followed by the solar plexus). Once, coming back from Seattle, I packed a pair of hardwood chopsticks in a pouch. They can easily take out an eye, or penetrate the ear. A heavy duty sock with a can of soft drink in it makes for a fine swinging weapon. The other day, Ron Hood was getting interviewed on The Survival Podcast and mentioned that he carries a chain, about the length of his forearm, with a padlock on one end and his keys (including a key to the lock) on the other. It can be used to secure a briefcase to a chair leg in the departure lounge, or an improvised nunchuk-like weapon.
Aside from weapons, what else can save your life while flying? I carry a small kit, similar to what I had on the subway in DC a few posts back. A pair of work gloves, safety glasses, and a N-95 mask. The mask can be helpful if you're surrounded by sick people, but won't do much for smoke or noxious fume protection. I also have a small flashlight, some tape, some cordage, and a small first aid kit. I like to keep my carry-on bag fairly small so that I can grab it and go if I need to.
It goes without saying to know where the exits are and how they work. Stay alert and don't be embarrassed or think you'll be called racist if you report suspicious behaviors. I prefer an aisle seat for mobility unless I'm in the exit row, then I prefer a window seat. The front bulkhead row is my second favorite row. There's almost as much leg room as the exit rows, and you have a short movement into first class and you only have one direction to look to see everyone in the plane.
Getting through airport security is a real pain these days, but dressing for security leaves you vulnerable for the rest of your trip. I suggest wearing a t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops until you get through, then changing into your boots, jeans/cargo pants, sturdy belt, and long-sleeve, natural fiber shirt before boarding the plane. Avoid synthetic fibers when flying. If there is a fire, nylon, rayon, etc... will melt to your body.
If flying overseas, check out the State Department travel warnings while planning your trip and shortly before you leave. Don't dress like an "American." Leave the cowboy hat and Toby Keith t-shirt at home. This could get us heading into a whole 'nother topic, so I'll leave it at that.