Monday, August 15, 2005

Props to British Airways

I narrowly escaped the chaos that ensued over the weekend with the British Airways strike. Our plane actually left Heathrow on Sunday and was still on time. The flight crew apologized for what they called an "industrial action." And to make amends for the lack of food on board (the caterers are the ones on strike), we each received £10 vouchers. We could use them anywhere in the airport. And so, like the winners in a supermarket shopping spree, the Mrs. and I pillaged the nearby Pret a Manger. I hear the ones in New York are pathetic. But the Pret at London Heathrow was exquisite--there was nothing (at least at that time) that hit the spot better than my bacon-lettuce-tomato-egg sandwich.

It was the flight going to Europe that proved more challenging: A heavy-set woman in her sixties boarded our plane and from the get-go expressed her anxiety about flying. She was also loud. And she wanted to talk to the pilot. And she told the flight attendants she took half-a-valium.

Little did we know how nervous she would be. As soon as the plane hit a bump in the air, she started howling like a dog:

Ohhhhhhh! Ohhhhhhh! Ohhhhhhh!

And with the next little skips in turbulence:

Whoa! and What's happening!

This occurred every time the plane hit even a minor bump for the entire flight.

She had questions too. Such as "How can the pilot fly through the clouds if he can't see?"

But it was that howling that will haunt me forever. My compliments to the flight crew of BA 216 for not letting the panic spread, for holding this woman's hand, for explaining that turbulence is normal and having to explain what turbulence is, over and over. Her husband, meanwhile, just sat there and ignored her the entire time.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

She should have taken the whole Valium so she could sleep through the turbulence, like I do. I also have to rub the side of the plane when I get on, so it won't crash. It's really a lot of pressure for me, holding the plane up with just the power of my mind.