Air sickness

So let’s say you are sitting at the airport departure gate, and you’ve put your book away and are all ready to join the pushing and shoving to get on the plane; and to be honest you’re now a little bored, so you look across to what the woman sitting next to you is reading. Carefully, so she doesn’t notice. She’s got her iPad in her hand and is reading the Los Angeles Times. And this is what she’s got open: the story that air traffic controllers are now routinely found asleep on the job. I don’t mean a momentary lapse of concentration. I mean deep sleep, heart rate satisfactorily slowed down, some pleasant dream about a beach in Hawaii, that sort of thing.

‘Bloody hell!’ you exclaim, rather startling the poor woman who wasn’t aware you were reading along with her. ‘Sorry’, you say, ‘I couldn’t help reading that!’ Actually that’s not really true, you could easily have helped it, but there you go.

‘Well now, that’s nothing.’ A man’s voice from the other side of the woman, who, it turns out, has also been reading her iPad. ‘I’ve just read that there has been a series of incidents on planes just suddenly developing holes in the fuselage for no apparent reason.’

And now behind you, a woman who may or may not have also been reading the iPad but who has certainly been following the conversation, chips in helpfully: ‘There have never been so many birds sucked into jet engines than recently.’

You hear the announcement: ‘The plane is now ready for boarding.’ Actually, things could be worse. You might have been on that airline that won’t let you bring duty free goods on board if they don’t fit in your bag. But you do wonder if someone here has the phone number of air traffic control. Just so you could give them a call to make sure they’re all awake.

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5 Comments on “Air sickness”

  1. no-name Says:

    If they’re not awake, or alert, they might allow a smaller aircraft to take off too soon after a larger one. The air might not have settled, which could cause the smaller aircraft to spiral out of control. Just one of my many airport worries. (That, and standing next to people in the queue who are discussing imminent disaster.)

  2. Jilly Says:

    I once found myself at a UK airport, waiting for a flight to Dublin, and with nothing to read. This obviously had to be rectified, so I spent a while browsing the (not good) airport bookshop, and eventually settled on a cheap paperback thriller, which I began reading as I waited for boarding. At almost exactly the point when my plane began its speed-up down the runway for take-off, I reached the section of the book which describes, in horrendous detail, the aftermath of a major aircrash, with rescuers and forensic teams picking their way through the wreckage on the ground. I decided that I had to keep reading, as stopping would only have made things worse, in a weird way.

    I’m not a nervous flier, but that was the longest 45 minute flight of my life. I do think that airport bookshops ought to do some kind of filtering of the books they carry. If that book had been bought by someone who was already nervous of flying, I dread to think how they would have reacted!

  3. kevin denny Says:

    Could be worse. My wife sat next to Daniel O’Donnell on a flight once & had to listen to the cabin crew fawning over him for the whole flight.

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