Q. Every time I fly, I'm reminded that it's a violation of Federal law to disobey "crew member instructions." One of these instructions, often from the captain herself (or himself) is to listen carefully to the pre-flight safety demo. Yet, every time I fly, the vast majority of passengers are reading a newspaper or yakking away with fellow passengers, completely oblivious to the flight attendants standing right in front of them trying to refresh their memories of what do to in an emergency. Why is this particular "instruction" legally allowed to be ignored?

A. I agree that it's not only dangerous, but actually rude and disrespectful when passengers don't pay attention to the safety demo. It might help if airlines use humor to grab passengers' attention, as happens often on Southwest Airlines' flights. It's amazing how many people really don't know how to act when there's an emergency. One flight attendant told me that during an emergency decompression situation she had to instruct passengers individually that they needed to pull the mask towards them to start the flow of oxygen, something they would have known had they listened to the pre-flight announcement. It wouldn't bother me one bit if the government required people to put down their newspapers and magazines during the safety demo.

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