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April 23, 2004

Flying is funny

Great edition of Ask the Pilot in Salon today. The topic is amusing in-flight PA announcements. There's been a list going around for years but I suspect many of these are apocryphal. Those in Ask the Pilot this week are a fresh batch with an altogether truer ring. Here are a couple of examples:

We were taxiing at Heathrow on British Airways when one of the crewmen came on the P.A. making the usual end-of-flight announcements, and slipped in casually: "Anyone standing before the fasten-seatbelts light is switched off will be shot." It's the sort of thing that would cause horror today, but at the time everyone laughed, the light tone reinforced by the fact he sounded so ... British, in that cute and harmless way. I suppose if it had been Lufthansa it might have come across more menacing.
Flying to St. Louis, the pilot got on the public address system near Pittsburgh and said: "A special treat for the passengers on the left side. Look straight down and you'll see a very large white house. Here, let me show you." [At this point he actually tipped the plane so we could see.] "That's my ex-wife's house. I know it's her house because that's her lawyer's BMW in the driveway." He was very cheerful about the whole thing, but a lot of passengers looked at each other with a mix of laughter and anxiety.

See the full article for some other great ones.

By the way, Patrick (the column's pilot-author) is soliciting entries for a favourite airline poll. If you'd like to read my entry, read on.

I've gotta put my vote in for British Airways. I've been loyal to them ever since, in what I can only assume was either a bureaucratic error or a misguided attempt to gain a share of my company's pitiful travel budget, they upgraded me to the Silver tier of their executive club. It was worth it for the executive transit lounge alone. Spacious, sunny places with the relaxing lilt of running water are a haven in bustling metropolises like Heathrow or glorified backwater bus terminals like Sea-Tac. I'd always make a point of getting to the airport at least two hours early so I could settle down with a plate of sandwiches, a vodka tonic (with more olives than most would deem necessary), and read the Guardian cover to cover.

Another perk was that in the early days (around the Millenium) on my frequent LHR-SEA jaunts, they'd upgrade me from economy to business about half the time. The summertime hop across Greenland was always a favourite trip of mine, and somehow the views of the glacial fields were all the better from a comfy leather seat. I was actually a little sad (but juuuust a little!) when the flat beds came into business as I'd usually be snoring through that amazing view.

After a while I think they must have figured out that my company was never actually going to spring for a business fare of its own accord. The upgrades started to dry up, and after about three years my Silver membership lapsed. But I still fly them when I can. Mostly it's because they're the only airline with a direct flight to London from Seattle, but it's also just a bit in the hope that one day, just maybe, I'll be in that club again.

P.S. I also love the way they don't censor their movies, even in economy. I think I even saw a plane crash in an onboard film, once.

Posted by david at April 23, 2004 08:15 AM | TrackBack
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