Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The day of the white knuckle

On Sunday I had to catch a flight out of town for a job. We were upstairs in the lounge where I was embracing my inner student and enjoying the the free stuff. Oh, how I love free stuff (the fact that I pay for the all the free stuff in one hit, always seems to be strangely lost on me).

I was climbing into a glass of wine when I heard, 'would Kate Blah de Blah, X Blah de Blah and Y Blah de Blah please board your plane immediately. You are preventing your plane from departing.'

Excuse me ?

I'm sorry, but this is wrong on a number of accounts.

1. Those guys never say, 'You are preventing your plane from departing.' They say, 'Would Kate Blah de Blah, passenger to X, please board your plane immediately at gate X.' I know this as I have heard this sentence a number of times. It's not that I mean to be last to board my plane, it's just that I sometimes I get lost in the magazine or the paper I am reading and I accidentally forget to listen to crucial information that is meant for my ears.

Small digression but - I was once leaving the capital the same time as (unbeknownst to me) my aunt and uncle were flying in to it, from the deep south. They were heading to a wedding a few hours north, which my parents were also attending.

The next day I got a call from my father, 'I hear you nearly missed your plane.'

'How on earth do you know that?'

'Your aunt and uncle were just walking into the airport as you were being called to your flight.'

'Oh.' You can't really deny that one.

2. Sunday's announcement was also wrong because we would have been on our flight IF THEY HAD CALLED IT.

So we swiftly gulped, gathered our belongings and as we departed the lounge I said to the lady, 'You never called our flight!'

To which she responded, 'Oh didn't I ? I'm sorry.' But what I think she meant to continue saying was, '.. that I am the reason there is a plane full of passengers who are vaguely pissed off with you, now.'

An amount of time into the flight I was marinating in a glossy magazine when my colleague asked, 'Did you hear that?'


'The pilot.'


'He's said there's a huge westerly and it's marginal as to whether we land....'

'OOOOOoooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhh faaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrk', I said, conjuring up images of being flown to the closest airport which is the size of a rugby field and then being bused back to our destination, arriving sometime next week.

'....So we may have to turn around and head back home.'

'Oh phew, that's okay.....what are you looking for?'

'The exits.'


It was at this point I began to understand why he was looking for the exits because that was precisely when we flew into the wind.


It was the bumpiest flight I've been on in years. And one of these years I am talking about included flying in to and out of Wellington airport (windy city, short runway) on a weekly basis, and Sunday's flight left all of those for dead. In the category that is Terrifying Flights, this one would have been a nominee, (but I reckon the Oscar would have gone to Snakes on a Plane).

I suppose what that flight did was made me realise exactly what you're doing when you go flying - effectively you're hurtling around the planet in a giant tin can and you're at the mercy of the elements, and the odd rogue bird or passenger.

I still remain amazed that there are people bright enough to develop air travel, and I am eternally grateful to these people, if travel had been left up to me, the only way we'd be going anywhere quickly would be down hills on sacks, or on the backs of sheep or large dogs.

There would be no flying into cities in howling westerlies. Hell no.


Medbh said...

Good lord I hate flying.
Actually hate isn't strong enough.
I prefer to be heavily sedated and never look out of the window.

laughykate said...

Oh do you? I am fine on big planes, it's just the little ones that give me the shits. Especially when you can see straight into the cockpit - that's far too much information for me.

surfergirl said...

Lucky you - just think of it as a 'free' roller coaster ride! (Oh, wait, you paid for that too??)

laughykate said...

I just wished they gave you the option.'Would you like a window, or aisle seat, today? Roller coaster ride or smooth? Crashing or non crashing?'