Flotation Devices When Flying Domestically

Q: While it makes sense to give the little speech about floatation devices for an oceanic flight, I fly mostly domestically and they still talk about them. Why?

The logic here, while comfortably at odds with chance, is that a plane could, after whatever unfortunate goings-on, end up in a lake or river. Also, there have been times when aircraft have overshot, undershot, or otherwise parted company with a runway and ended up in the harbor of a coastal airport. Twice in the early 1990s jets went off the end of a runway at LaGuardia and ended up in the bay. One was a Boeing 737, the other a Fokker F-28. There were fatalities and survivors in both cases.

This Q&A is part of a collection that originally appeared on Salon.com. Patrick Smith, 38, is an erstwhile airline pilot, retired punk rocker and air travel columnist. His book, Ask the Pilot (Riverhead) was voted “Best Travel Book of 2004” by Amazon.com. Patrick has traveled to more than 55 countries and always asks for a window seat. He lives near Boston.