Hijacking Survival Guidelines
Hijacking is extremely rare, but it does happen. It is well to consider how you should react if you end up being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The physical takeover of the aircraft by the hijackers may be accompanied by noise, commotion, and possibly shooting and yelling, or it may be quiet and methodical with little more than an announcement by a crew member. Either way, how you and others react during these first few minutes of the hijacking may be crucial to the outcome.
The guidance below focuses on avoiding violence and achieving a peaceful resolution to a hijacking. This guidance was developed prior to September 11, 2001 when two hijacked airliners were flown into the World Trade Center and one into the Pentagon. Since then, there has been considerable public discussion of a more active and aggressive reaction to the initial announcement that a plane is being hijacked. As of this writing, the U.S. Government has not developed new guidelines for how to react to a hijacking. The appropriate reaction may depend upon the presumed purpose of the hijacking -- the hijackers' goal a suicide mission to use the airplane itself as a bomb, take hostages to gain publicity for a political movement, or a simple desire to escape to another country.
Remember that the hijackers will be extremely nervous and probably as scared as you are. Although they may appear calm, they cannot be trusted to behave reasonably or rationally. Fear can trigger a disaster. One wrong move by either a victim or a hijacker could easily set off a defensive spate of violence. To promote a peaceful resolution of the situation, follow these guidelines.
Once the takeover of the aircraft has occurred, passengers may be separated by citizenship, sex, race, etc. Your passport may be confiscated and your carry-on luggage ransacked. The aircraft may be diverted to another country. The hijackers may enter into a negotiation phase which could last indefinitely and/or the crew may be forced to fly the aircraft to a different destination. During this phase passengers may be used as a bargaining tool in negotiations, lives may be threatened, or a number of passengers may be released in exchange for fuel, landing/departure rights, food, etc. This will be the longest phase of the hijacking
The last phase of the hijacking is resolution, either by a hostage rescue team or through negotiation. In the latter instance, the hijackers may simply surrender to authorities or abandon the aircraft, crew and passengers. The following guidelines apply in the case of a rescue operation. The rescue may be similar to the hijacker's takeover -- noisy, chaotic, and possibly with shooting. The rescue force is re-taking control of the aircraft.
The termination of any hijacking incident is extremely tense. If an assault force attempts a rescue, it is imperative that you remain calm and out of the way. Make no sudden moves or take any action by which you could be mistaken for a terrorist and risk being injured or killed.
Related Topic: DoD Code of Conduct.
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