Sunday, September 18, 2011

The hazards of flying

Even if you didn't suffer from aerophobia, there are some non trivial hazards of flying. Missing baggage for example. Or delayed or cancelled flights leaving you stranded in some god forsaken land. Some even allege deep vein thrombosis. Insomnia due to your neighbour's high affliction of stertor could be another. But even the most wildly imaginative sort could not have thought of adding "going to the loo" in that list. But it is now conclusively established that this is a real hazard. Consider the evidence.

Last Sunday Frontier Airlines flight 623 from Denver to Detroit was escorted by F16 fighter jets. Why ?? Apparently two men and a women were seated in a three seater. One guy got up to go to the loo. The other guy stood up.  And the guy spent a "long time" there. That was it. F16s escorted the plane and on landing the three were handcuffed and led off to be questioned. The poor lady did nothing. She was simply sitting and yet was considered suspicious because she sat next to a guy who went to the loo. The wonderfully investigative press even reported that there was a "mile high club" membership application going on in the loo ! We'll let it pass that even a cursory familiarity with an aeroplane loo would convince anybody that such an act is an anatomical impossibility.

American Airlines flight 34 from Los Angeles to JFK was equally bizarre. The F16s were up again. This time, three men were suspected because they were making "frequent trips" to the loo. Apparently there is some standard as to the number of times you can go. For their "crimes" the three were handcuffed and led away.

What about Ryanair's proposals, which thankfully did not materialise, of charging passengers for the pleasure of a visit to the loo midair. Perhaps they might have stuck a notice on the door, not unlike the statutory warning on cigarette packs - "Entering this door would be seriously injurious to your wealth". Ryanair's profit improvement plans didn't stop there. They evaluated removing two out of the three loos on their plane because they could then add six seats, thereby providing an accurate valuation of the service they are providing in giving you a pleasure of a  visit.

All Nippon Airlines tried another tack. They claimed that they were green because they encouraged passenger to lighten themselves prior to boarding the plane. Lighter weights meant less fuel burnt ; so the airline was being very environmentally conscious. Pretty ground crew were on hand just before the boarding gate. Hello; Welcome to ANA Flight blah blah blah. The loo is that way ma'am; if you could make a visit, you will contribute to reducing global warming on our planet. Thank You. Before boarding, please provide proof of your visit !

And, of course, there is poor Gerard Depardieu, the famous, or should I say infamous, French actor. He had many a glass of wine, as any sensible Frenchman would do,  before boarding the plane from Paris to Dublin. And as the plane was about to start, he simply had to deal with the consequences of all that drinking. But no; the stew wouldn't let him get up until the plane was airborne, seat belt signs were off, etc etc - a good 15mts away. What could the guy do. He took the only option - he simply let go. Another instance of the police coming and escorting a passenger out. City Jet, the airline, then rubbed salt into the wounds by tweeting "As you may have seen on the news, we are busy mopping the floor of one of our planes this morning". Another tweet - " We'd also like to remind all passengers that our planes are fully equipped with toilet facilities."

You better be careful, the next time you fly, OK ? There is a new flying hazard.