It's Better to Travel than Arrive?

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive"

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.

"Robert Louis Stevenson speaks utter tosh and has

obviously never flown long haul economy class"

Kristy, first ever blog post, 2011.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sleeping on Planes? It Pays To Be Nice.

I'm a firm believer in being nice to air hostesses (I know, they like to be called "flight attendants" now, but I'm old fashioned).  I think their job, whilst not terribly difficult, wouldn't be much fun.  Saying hello and smiling as you walk on board doesn't do you any harm, and I also like to find my seat, then find the closest air hostess and ask her if there are any empty rows on the flight.  They pretty much always say no, but if anything opens up "they'll let me know".  And sometimes, just sometimes, they do ...

Last year we flew out from Zurich to Johannesburg for the World Cup and, like the rest of my life, it was an interesting trip.  We boarded and the flight was absolutely full, but I asked our hostess if there were any empty seats so that I could have a snooze.  She said that there wasn't even one spare, but if something came up then she'd come and get me (they all say that, I never believe it).

So hubby and I are chilling out while the plane becomes even more jammed, and there's someone being loud in the background, but I'm not really focussing on it.  Then it gets louder.  And louder.  And there's a lot of swearing.  Bad, loud swearing.  I turn around, and in the very last row there is a black guy going totally insane, screaming a selection of the following on high rotation - he's not going to fly on this plane, he hates this plane, he hates us, he's a dog, he's a monkey, he's not going to fly on this plane, no way, no how, it's NOT going to happen.  Everyone has turned around and is looking at him and he's not stopping.  Then the doors get closed and we start push back.  And he's still going off his head.  I ask the hostess if it's actually safe to fly with this guy going bonkers in the back and she says "Oh, no, it's fine, he's handcuffed to the seats, and to the policeman on either side of him."  Oh, goody, that's fine then.

Then I see another guy go up to another attendant and tell him to tell the captain that they were going to sedate the crazy guy now and that should calm him down.  It didn't.  He's still furious and isn't shy about letting us all know about it.  By this time we're rolling out to the runway and you can see that everyone is thinking "this may be the longest 10 hours of my life", when the Captain comes on and says "You may have noticed that there is someone on the plane that doesn't want to fly with us tonight, so we're going back to the terminal to let him off".  Cue the cheers and clapping.

We roll back to the jetway and then the guy realises that he's actually managed to turn the plane around and now he's going to have to get off with three big, angry, white South African policemen.  And he starts to panic because there's a fair chance that he's going to get the beating of his life fairly shortly.  Now he doesn't really want to get off the plane after all.  One of the policemen had to walk in front of him and drag him whilst one walked behind him and pushed him, and the other carried their luggage.  Then it went blissfully quiet for a minute throughout the whole plane.  And then?  Then the hostess comes up and says "Quick, there's an empty row now and I'll take you up to it."  And there it was - a lovely empty row, still warm from the b*tts of a crazy guy and his police escorts.  And I slept, laying down, for 10 hours!!!!!!  I know everyone else on the plane must have hated me, but it was worth it. 


  1. On one of my trips from LA to AU I was about 17yo and friends had dragged me out all night--i literally got home to change and leave for the airport. I spotted the row, was fluffing my pillow and blanket when a lady snuck in cutting my three seats to two. I explained, she didn't care, so I lay down and dug my toes into her and pushed...and kept them there for 2 hours until she moved. The air-hostess-flight-attendant at the end of the LA to SYD called me 'tenacious." I think she was gracious. I was a little brat. xo

  2. Oh, Sada, I wish I was that ballsy. I am, however, that Meerkat looking figure that you will see on a long haul flight, popping up in my seat and looking around every 2 minutes whilst everyone is loading, trying to see an empty row. As soon as I see one, I ask a hostess if I can move and I'm off like a rocket. Look for Meerkats on planes, that'll be me!


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