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I would not be too hard on people trying to get their hand baggage in these circumstances. Of course they absolutely should not – but in such circumstances, there is often a cognitive disconnection, and people do the craziest things. (Believe me, I have seen plenty of people after all sorts of major traumatic events.) They may completely “know” that they should not reach for the bag, but they are acting almost automatically, and are not thinking rationally. The only people who will all do the right thing are those who are fully trained, and that means the flight crew.
That is why I would be completely against locked luggage bins. What would happen is that many passengers would waste even more time trying to work out why the bin would not open.
1. Agree, the most important step is to limit carry-on baggage much more strictly
2. High marks to Boeing for creating such a tough airplane body
3. Absolutely top marks to the crew, for being last off – the bravery of flight crew in such circumstances is almost always remarkable
4. All honour to the fireman who died