Tuesday, October 03, 2006

... and another thing:

If you haven't read Ummit's most eloquent diatribe on the bane of modern life that is flying then this isn't so much "another thing" as a "thing". He reminded me of something I wrote en route to somewhere my bags were not going. And I quote ... myself:

It makes no sense.

The more you think about it, the less sense it makes.

There is no life-vest on transatlantic flights.

There you are, about to spend who knows how many hours somewhere above one of the world’s larger, continuous expanses of water at the hands of a disembodied voice - purporting to belong to someone called Larry - which in turn is in charge of x thousand tons of metal and a similarly large quantity of highly inflammable aviation fuel, and they can’t be arsed to do you the courtesy of pretending that you might survive an innocuous sounding 'splash-down'.

London’s legions of unlicensed cabs give most people the screaming heeby-jeebies, and you do at least have the luxury of knowing that they do actually exist - even if it is on a different moral plane (no pun intended) - yet there you are, putting your life in the hands of an invisible stranger, and all they give you to place your continued existence on “in the extremely unlikely event of a landing on water” is a flatulence ridden seat.

Perhaps the trapped gas, a necessary by-product of a high altitude diet of airline food, aids it’s bouyancy.

Hitting the water at the speed you are likely to be travelling, and from the height at which you are likely to be falling, whether it is water or precast, reinforced concrete is of little consequence. A hand full or two of fish flakes and a reddish tinge to the water would be the only actual evidence that you were ever actually there. On the off-chance that gravity does decide to intervene, is it wrong to want for more than just a glorified cushion on which to base ones hopes of survival?

What happened to the life-vest under the seat? The whistle to attract attention? The laughable wee flashing light and the top-up tube?

The shuttle flight from Glasgow to London offers even the most budget traveller a life-vest, and you are only over water for about 30 seconds in total, most of those being above Windemere which is a tough target to hit in the first place but has the distinct advantages of being comparatively small, vaguely swimmable, splendidly popular and decidedly shark-free.

If you’re given a life-vest with the threat as trifling as a glorified puddle then surely, worked out exponentially, everyone on a transatlantic flight should be given a life-raft complete with outboard motor, full scuba gear and a survival suit stowed under their seat.

Alas, one has to make do with just a cushion, permeated with the expulsions of other people’s softer ends to keep you afloat until either hypothermia, sharks or rescuers intervene. Why do they even bother? Next time, I’m taking water-wings and a lilo as carry-on baggage.

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