I’m inspired to write this as I sit on the runway at Heathrow awaiting take-off clearance for Doha en-route to Singapore with Qatar Airways.
I’m watching a parent decide that the best thing to do right now is to get out of their seat and help their young (maybe three or four year old) son - in the row in front - find “racing cars” on the inflight entertainment system. Rather than wait for the 500,000 kg aircraft to take off safely, they’ve decided that it’s a good idea to be out of their seat at takeoff time and risk being thrown halfway down the plane and/or breaking their neck.
So that’s #1.
It got me thinking about all of the occasions that have left me aghast/shocked/bewildered/bemused over the decade-plus that I’ve been flying extensively. Some are funny, most are dangerous, all are stupid.
Let’s take a light-hearted look...
#2 happened a few years ago when I was in JFK flying back to London with Virgin Atlantic. I was flying Upper Class and boarding through the dedicated lane. Most business class passengers have flown a few times, if not very regularly. I think it’s pretty rare for someone’s first ever flight to be long haul business class. So you can imagine my reaction to the woman in front of me who - when asked for her passport’s photo page - ripped it out of her passport and handed it to the gate agent!
It could’ve been much worse for passenger #3, when she decided to ask for hot water from a British Airways flight attendant on my flight back to London from Buenos Aires. When her requested mug of hot (boiling) water - clearly meant to be drunk - was brought to her, she was narrowly stopped by the flight attendant from pouring it directly on her arms. She had intended to have a mini shower/bath at her seat. Chicken? Beef? Third degree burns...?
Intra-Asia flights have given me a fair share of “wow” moments. Like #4 when I watched a man try to prise open the overhead compartment containing the oxygen masks. Why? Because he “wanted somewhere to store his phone.” Mr Reckless #5 thought it best to try on his life jacket prior to takeoff to make sure it was a good fit, complete with full inflation. Passenger #6 I remember was the elderly lady who brought a waffle maker onboard and plugged it in to the at seat power. This was perhaps the most delicious smelling of all the absurdity; until she was abruptly caught by a passing crew member.
We head Down Under for #7, on my Sydney to Santiago flight, where the loudest woman I’ve ever heard on a plane proceeded to read out all of her online banking details at full volume - including password and memorable data -because she’d forgotten to transfer money before leaving for the airport. She... wait for it... didn’t want to do it on the inflight Wi-Fi “for security reasons.”
Last but not least - and the one that could have ended up with some time in a hospital bed and/or a police cell – is #8, when a very angry, impatient, and -clearly - ‘important’ businessman decided he couldn’t wait any longer for the crew to open the door for us to disembark so he opened it himself instead. The only problem being that the reason it hadn’t been opened yet was that the airbridge was stuck; and still about two metres from the aircraft. Luckily, he was stopped just in time. We were on an A380, so it could’ve been a very nasty fall.
Flying a lot - whether for work or pleasure - is tough. It can take it out of you, exhaust you, bewilder you and confuse your body. So, it’s probably best to not attempt to kill, injure or maim yourself (or others) along the way!