Anyone that has traveled since 9/11 has become accustomed to the pre-boarding procedures that help screen out potential terrorist attacks. However, once onboard there is not a lot of direction on what to do if an aircraft hijacking should occur. An aircraft hijacking is a frightening thought due to the limited space to run or escape from attackers. So, it is imperative to have enough knowledge on what to do when an individual or group seizes an aircraft, as reactions and timing could potentially change the outcome.
Let’s consider some points if you find yourself in this situation. Keep calm and try to blend in. This is obviously easier said than done. But do not draw unnecessary attention to yourself and try to remain as silent as possible. Blend in with the rest of the passengers. Do not give your captors any reason to single you out or use you for an example of any sort.
Be mentally and emotionally prepared for anything.
The hijackers may try to get into your head with verbal or even physical abuse. Don’t give into their attempts to take away your focus for your own safety.
Obey the captors. Do as the captors ask you to do, like keeping your head down and staying quiet. Do not pose a threat to them. Avoid eye contact if possible. This all goes along with blending in. Do not give them a reason to give you unwanted attention.
Answer only basic questions
Do not give your captors any other information about you or your travel plans, nationality or political views when necessary. This information could be used against you on the plane or in the future.
If at all possible stay away from your captors. Do not try to engage with or take your captors down unless you are trained to do so, and follow some of the additional tips I’ll talk about soon. Try to stay as non-threatening to them as possible. Focus on how you can get out of the situation as safely as you can by searching for the positions and locations on the plane with the least amount of contact from the terrorists (such as window seats in the back of the plane).
Hijackers are no doubt anxious and have lots of adrenaline pumping through them.
This can cause them to make swift and erratic decisions. Therefore, if you must, work with them as much as possible to ensure a safe outcome. If violence is needed to end the hijacking, find your moment of attack and act quickly.
If you do decide to take action, here are some additional tips which can lean the odds more to your favor of successfully staging a counter attack. The first tip is to not act erratically yourself or take action based off of emotion. Once again, better said than done, but when you take action, it is important to have a plan in mind. When possible mentally walk through the steps in your mind first, before taking real physical action.
Second, when possible, work with others. You being one person will not be able to take down a team of terrorists who have planned this attack for weeks, and probably months. Choose those around you with bigger physical stature and who look and act confident. Giving everyone who is in your team specific responsibilities and actions can lead to an overwhelming affect on the attackers. When the team acts, they act in unison, where the actions of many can leverage the overall results. For example, instead of one person doing four steps, four people can each do a step simultaneously.
Lastly, covering every type of scenario here in a short article would be impossible, and even doing that in a multi day in person seminar could not allow enough time to cover all possibilities, but I will state something which might seem common sense. When taking action, have one end goal in mind. During the attacks of 9/11, I believe the passengers of Flight 93 had one goal: Get inside the cockpit.
From there, everything else took form, and the steps and even creativity to do so fleshed out. Having the one goal in mind will keep you (and your team) focused on the prize. For some scenarios, the goal might be to take down an armed watchman, for another situation it may be to ensure that women and children get to exit the plane in exchange for what the captors want or need.
There is no doubt these situations in the past have been chaotic and unpredictable. In summary, be covert, and leverage a team with simple simultaneous tasks centered around one goal. Keeping these tips, ideas and tactics in mind can help you survive this horrific event.