Southwest Airlines passengers wore their oxygen masks 'wrong' during emergency landing of flight 1380

In a photo taken by passenger Marty Martinez passengers are seen wearing their oxygen masks over their mouths but not their noses.

An engine exploded on board the flight and shrapnel smashed a window.

Banking executive Jennifer Riordan suffered fatal head injuries after the jet exploded on Southwest flight 1380 from New York to Dallas.

Former cabin crew member Bobby Laurie tweeted: “PEOPLE: Listen to your flight attendants!

“ALMOST EVERYONE in this photo from @SouthwestAir #SWA1380 today is wearing their mask WRONG. Put down the phone, stop with the selfies.. and LISTEN.

“Cover your NOSE & MOUTH. #crewlife #psa #listen #travel #news #wn1380”.

Laurie told the Huffington Post: "Having it only cover your mouth is kind of like scuba diving in the air.

“You have to remind yourself to breathe through your mouth in order to get enough oxygen until the plane gets down to that level at which you don’t need the mask.”

All the air gets sucked out of the plane, so if you have your mouth or nose open, the air is being sucked out, and you won’t be able to breathe because all the air is going away from you.

“That’s why you need to wear the mask over your nose and mouth.”

He also highlighted that the incorrect wearing of the masks would have been even more of a risk if the plane – which began to its emergency descent at 31,000 feet – had been flying slightly higher at 35,000 feet.

If this had been the case, passengers may not have been able to breathe at all as their masks were worn incorrectly.

He wrote: “The pilots managed to get the aircraft to a level in which the cabin was pressurized & they could breathe.

“Had they not been able to safely and quickly.. there would have been a different outcome.

“It would have mattered a lot if they were at 35,000 feet. They would be dead. Period.”

People will struggle to breathe at anything above 15,000 feet and consciousness can be lost within minutes, which is a condition called hypoxia.

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association says that hypoxia can cause “nausea, apprehension, tunnel vision, headaches, fatigue, dizziness, blurred vision, tingling sensations, numbness, and mental confusion."

If people are passed out this could also disrupt the evacuation of the plane when it comes to land.


Hypoxia at high altitudes can be avoided by correctly wearing an oxygen mask – over both your nose and your mouth so you can get 100 per cent of the oxygen out of it that it’s dispensing.

Passengers would only have had around 30 seconds to get their masks on after the plane’s window was blown before Hypoxia started to take effect.

The Boeing 737  had just departed New York's LaGuardia Airport en-route to Dallas when the left engine exploded and ruptured metal flew towards a window.

Pilot Tammie Jo Shults is being hailed a hero for safely landing the plane with 143 passengers and five crew on board at Philadelphia.

After the mid-air blast tore a gaping hole in the aircraft's side, she told shocked air traffic controllers "there’s a hole and uh… someone went out."

The pilot immediately diverted towards Philadelphia to make an emergency landing and photos show jet fuel oozing from the passenger plane onto the tarmac.

Find out here what happens if you get sucked out of a plane window if a hole appears in a pressurised cabin.


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