Come fly with me

April 11, 2010 at 2:00 am Leave a comment

Occasionally, I give out the ThinkingShift “dumb ass” award and I have two candidates for this honour. First up are the two woman who thought they could prop a 91-year old dead dude in a wheelchair, stick a pair of sunnies on him, dress him in a big coat and waltz up to an airport check-in counter and get the dead dude on a plane to Berlin. I’m afraid their excuses of “we didn’t know he’d carked it” don’t wash with me because the old guy had been dead for at least 12 hours, possibly up to 24 hours, according to the police investigating this bizarre incident.

Surely, no light chit-chat in the taxi on the way to the airport would have alerted the gals to the fact they had a dead body on their hands. And had they bothered to feed him over the previous 12 hours? A 91-year old not eating for over 12 hours might have been a clue.  Now, I’d be the first to admit that travelling looooooooooong hours in economy class on a plane can leave one feeling well, dead. But trying to smuggle the old geezer onto a plane is a bit Fawlty Towers. Imagine the poor airport worker who was waiting for the taxi to pull up at the airport. With wheelchair ready, he attempted to lift the old guy but his head immediately plonked sideways and his face fell against the airport worker’s. To quote: “It was ice cold. I knew straight away that the man was dead but they reassured me that he “always sleeps like that“. Smart dude that airport worker. When security attempted to find a pulse, the two women shooed them away. Apparently, the whole point of the macabre affair was to hold a funeral in Germany without paying £3,000 repatriation costs. Ah, ladies: there is a legal requirement to notify authorities of a death.

My second “dumb ass” award must go to Ryanair, the low cost Irish airline. I’m sure they’d say they are simplifying the flying experience and offering cheap or discount flights in planes that boast vinyl seats (nothing worse than vinyl if you ask me). In their never-ending attempts to cut costs, Ryanair at one point considered a proposal to have passengers stand up during the flight. This nutty idea would apparently allow for 50% more passengers and cut costs by 20%. I have no idea where one would put the seat belt – around one’s neck perhaps? And as the flight hits a bit of turbulence, well way to go, you might inadvertently choke your dumb ass self.

And the airline’s latest proposal is to charge passengers for going to the loo. Actually, they’ve been tossing this stupid idea around for awhile but recent reports are saying that if you get caught short on a flight, you’ll have to cough up around £1 to spend a penny. If this news had come out on April 1st, I’d be inclined to say it’s an April Fools’ Day joke. But alas, seems they’re deadly serious.

Do you remember when flying and going to an airport used to be a pleasurable experience? Nah, I don’t either. But I do remember when I was a little kid going with my dad to the airport on a Sundays. He was a fighter pilot in WWII so was somewhat obsessed with planes. But we used to be able to stand on the roof (or maybe it was the balconies) of Sydney’s Kingsford Smith airport and watch planes land and take off. And you could meet disembarking passengers at the bottom of those metal steps they used to wheel up to the aircraft’s front door. I well remember meeting my grandparents coming off a plane from England and I remember lusting after their cute red Qantas cabin bags like this one:

And do you remember being served food like this onboard?

Well possibly you do if you fly First Class all the time but this is a Qantas ad from 1959 emphasizing the quality service aboard. Mmmmm…bring 1959 back please.

And do you remember cabin service or cabin designs like this?

Porcelain cups of tea and bowls of fruit available in cabins that seemed to have lounge room style seats. (Note one ad though has a dude smoking – glad they don’t allow that anymore). I don’t remember this era of luxury, genteel travel. Maybe you do. I’m always stuck in toilet class (aka economy/coach), usually seated in the row just in front of the toilet. Mind you, if I fly with Ryanair in future, there will probably only be one toilet on the aircraft – so I might get lucky and have no smelly toilets near me.
If you want a trip down memory lane, check out these amazing, vintage airline posters showing what the flying experience used to be like. That was before the likes of Ryanair and dead dudes being smuggled onto planes.
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