Thursday, March 08, 2007

In-Flight Safety

Occasionally I find that my personal views inhibit my social life. One such instance occurred in a bar in Auckland recently, where I was chatting up a hot Emirates hostess.

The conversation started with my criticism of the in-flight safety announcements.

"Why is smoking in the toilet a fire hazard?" I ask.

"Because the plane could catch fire," she answers, in that vacuous, I-haven't-thought-deeply-about-this-but-that's-what-they-told-me-at-hostess-school kind of way that air hostesses all seem to possess. I have noticed that there is something quite particular about the mentality of flight hostesses, which they share in common with Labour Party MPs: the unrivalled ability to spout platitudinous nonsense. There's no justification for pinko politicians on the public payroll to come up with this rubbish, but at least I can understand why air hostesses are so dumbed down. Day in and day out, they are forced to be polite to often obnoxious passengers, responding to such inane questions as: "Is this chicken or beef?" Or: "What does the non smoking light mean?" In a social context, my experience of air hostesses is that conversation almost exclusively revolves around where they have landed from, and what their next destination is.

But I am not satisfied with this answer. "So smoking in the toilet is a fire hazard, but smoking in the cabin is not?"

"No," she answers. "Smoking in the cabin is also a fire hazard."

"I see," I say. "So how come for forty years smoking in the cabin was allowed, and of all the millions of flights, not one plane ever crashed because a passenger was smoking?"

"I don't know," she responds.

I wasn't trying to ask annoying questions, of course. So I gave her a way out of the argument. "I can understand that the in-flight air conditioning system may not be totally efficient, and non-smoking passengers dislike the smell of cigarette smoke. Wouldn't it be more honest to say that smoking on planes irritates non-smoking passengers, rather than claim that the plane will crash if somebody lights up in the toilet?"

Emirates girl wasn't prepared to concede this point. So I progressed to the issue of lifeboats on planes.

"What is the point of lifeboats on a Boeing 747?" I ask.

"They're in case a plane lands on the water," she says politely. I buy her a drink, because she's hot, and come back to the conversation.

"Are there enough lifeboats for every passenger?"

"Yes, of course," she answers.

"Are they very useful, these lifeboats?"

"Yes, they're a key part of in-flight safety," she says.

"I see." I take a swig of my drink, and then say: "How many planes have ever used these lifeboats?"

She doesn't know what I mean. So I expand on this. "Well, put it this way. You spend ten fucking minutes during take-off telling us where the exits are, and where the lifeboats are, when every passenger airliner that has ever crashed into the water has lost everybody on board."

She wasn't amused by this, but she's still smiling politely.

"We need to put passengers' minds at ease."

I say it isn't helpful to give passengers the inaccurate impression that if a 350 tonne airplane hits the water at 300 miles an hour, the plane will somehow remain intact, and the passengers able to walk off into their lifeboats.

"If a plane's going to crash in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, nobody's actually going to survive to deploy the lifeboats, are they?" I say.

It is at this point that she starts to feel defensive. Being the not-very-sensitive guy that I am, I don't notice this. It doesn't occur to me that after four years of working for Emirates, she herself has found comfort in the existence of lifeboats. So I continue.

"And what's the point of showing passengers where the fucking exits are? Don't you think, just maybe, that a passenger who does happen to survive a massive plane crash might just jump out of the BIG FUCKING HOLE IN THE PLANE, rather than calmly follow the other passengers along the lights to the designated exit?"

The conversation ended shortly afterwards. Bloody pity, really. Emirates Girl was hot.


Anonymous said...

I so agree. I always wish they would really say what they actually mean in those safety talks. I would take greater comfort if the nice air hostess said something along the lines of, 'If the oxygen masks drop down in front of you during the flight, you are going to die. And if you don't die, the minutes following the oxygen mask appearing will be possibly remain to be the worst minutes of your life.Oh, and don't count on me being of any use to any of you whatsoever under these circumstances.'

As for the brace position, don't get me started.I mean how stupid do these airline safety people think we are?

Check out how calmly the air hostess assumes the brace position on the Singapore Airlines video. It's like she's taking up a yoga pose. They could at least use a air hostess wrestling a terrifed passenger into the brace position.

And, if you think about it, if you assume the brace position your head is most probably guaranteed to end up the arse of the passenger in front of you.

And you'd be wanting to do that, why?

Insolent Prick said...

Well, they don't even need to be pessimistic about things. They could say: "Planes are not perfectly safe. Very rarely--depending on the airline--they crash. You're much safer in the plane than you are in the taxi back from the airport. If we lose a wheel before we land, you might have to assume the brace position, because there's a high chance of survival. If a door falls off, at high altitude, chances are that we're all fucked. If it happens at low altitude, we will probably lose a few passengers sitting near the doors. Doors don't fall off very often, tho'."

That would be honest.

Ms Klake said...

This is wonderful and I think such honesty should immediately be applied to the flight safety talk. I know it would make me feel just fine.

Then again, I'd probably be doped up to the eyeballs on my meds and would remain quite calm even if the door did fall off.

Sb said...

Having worked for airline here are some answers to your questions.

"Why is smoking in the toilet a fire hazard" because unlike the main cabin toilets can be left unwatched for relatively long periods of flight.

If you drop a cigarette in the main cabin somebody will notice it before it reaches the hazard stage however a careless put out cig in the toilet could smolder for a long time before the crew would realise what was going on.

There have been cases where pax have thrown cigs on top of the used paper bins in toilets.

So yes its dangerous to smoke in both the main cabins and the toilets but its more dangerous in the toilets.

Have there been any cases of in flight fires from cigs. Yes there have, fortunately for the pax and crew they usually get them out. However there have been several cases where planes have been brought down by in flight fires which nobody knows how they started. It could have been cigs or it could have been something else we don't know because they are all dead!

"How many planes have ever used these lifeboats?" and "when every passenger airliner that has ever crashed into the water has lost everybody on board"

Again an obvious answer is that your statement is not true. Those boats are not there for deep water use. As you point out usually everybody is lost when planes crash in deep water. However a large number of airports are build alongside shallow water. Those boats are there for when the pilot screws it up and goes of the end and you are in 10 ft of water and the cabin is flooding. That's happens a lot and the water survival equipment has saved a lot of lives.

Where you deliberately trying to piss this woman of by talking crap ?


Anonymous said...

I agree with SB - from wikipedia you insolent prick (P.S. I came here via Idle Vice and won't be returning).

* In 2005, Tuninter 1153 (an ATR 72) ditched off the Sicilian coast after running out of fuel. Of 39 aboard, 20 survived with injuries including serious burns. The plane's wreck was found in three pieces.
* In 2002, Garuda Indonesia 425 (a Boeing 737) successfully ditched into the Bengawan Solo River near Yogyakarta, Java Island after experiencing a twin engine flameout during heavy precipitation and hail. The pilots tried to restart the engines several times before taking the decision to ditch the aircraft. Of the 60 occupants, one, a flight attendant, was killed.[6]
* In 1996, Ethiopian 961 (a 767-200ER) ditched in shallow water 500 meters from land after being hijacked and running out of fuel. Unable to operate flaps, it impacted at high speed, dragging its left wingtip before tumbling and breaking into three pieces. The panicking hijackers were fighting the pilots for the control of the plane at the time of the impact, which caused the plane to roll just before hitting the water, and the subsequent wingtip hitting the water and breakup are a result of this struggle in the cockpit. Of 175 on board, 52 survived. Some passengers were killed on impact or trapped in the cabin when they inflated their life vests before exiting. Most of the survivors were found hanging onto a section of the fuselage that remained floating.
* In 1970, Antillean 980 (a DC-9-33CF) ditched in mile-deep water after running out of fuel during multiple attempts to land at Princess Juliana International Airport in the island of Sint Maarten in the Netherlands Antilles under low-visibility weather. Of 63 occupants, 40 survivors were recovered by U.S. military helicopters.[7]
* In 1963, an Aeroflot Tupolev 124 ditched into the River Neva after running out of fuel. The aircraft floated and was towed to shore; all 52 on board escaped without injures.[8]
* In 1956, Pan Am 943 (a Boeing 377) ditched into the Pacific after losing two of its four engines. The aircraft was able to circle around USCGC Pontchartrain until daybreak, when it ditched; all 31 on board survived.[9][10]
* Also in 1956, Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 2 ditched into Puget Sound after the flight engineer forgot to close the cowl gills on the Boeing Stratocruiser's engines. All aboard escaped the aircraft after a textbook landing, but four passengers and one flight attendant succumbed either to drowning or to hypothermia before being rescued.

James said...

The last two posters were humourless fuck wits weren't they...? Fags.

bar said...

ip: If she was hot, then why were you asking questions she might have had to think to answer?

If you want to know something, ask google or wiki.

Not to put too fine a point on it, maybe your testosterone levels are easing. (i.e. you are becoming more discriminating.)

Cactus Kate said...


I am disappointed you did not enquire or move the conversation to the safety of sex in a plane and why we can't have quickies in toilets or Mattloo style on a seat.

Sonic said...

With social skills like that you are still single?

Go figure.

Insolent Prick said...

No, Anonymous! You're so wrong! It was Garuda flight 421 that crashed into the Solo River!

See, there goes your whole argument. Shithead.

What has Idle Vice done to deserve a pedantic asshole like you?

Kelly said...

Hi IP. Your profile gives the impression your pretty hot. Can you put a pic up? id love to see if your as sexy as you sound

Anonymous said...

They should get rid of the paper towels too then. Obviously far too great a hazard to be left to chance as people will no doubt try to rub chopsticks together in an attempt to start a fire in the bog.

Insolent Prick said...


That is not how my blog operates. You can, however, email me pictures of yourself in various states of undress, and if you're very, very tidy, I will respond.

Blair said...

A woman has to look like an FHM model before she can get away with typing "your" instead of "you're" as far as I am concerned.

bar said...


your obviously over the hill. Then again, maybe im not discriminatory enuff. In any given circumstances, I will take the best that will let me in (in that timeslot).

dont think crass.

G7 said...

The oxygen masks are another scam - pure oxygen makes you high, and they know that.
The reason you put on the oxygen mask is to get high and not panic to give the pilot half-a-fucking-chance of not killing everyone.
It would suit them just as nicely if everyone passed out, but that is guaranteed to happen.

Rob Good said...

Can't you still smoke on some Japanese flights? It is not illegal to smoke on airplanes it is based on airline policy i believe. As for the inflatable ramps they make for the last bit of fun before you dive into very cold or shark infested waters... Best you have a swig of the JD before the plunge.

Anonymous said...

So the Pan American flight operated by N90943 "Clipper Sovereign of the Skies" that successfully ditched into the Pacific Ocean midway between Honolulu and San Francisco with safe evacuation of all passengers and crew into liferafts and subsequent rescue by US Coast Guard was all a figment of the imagination?

Duh!! Next time I won't believe documented aviation history (that isn't the only successful commercial airliner ditching) - I'll just believe Insolent Prick instead who is obviously a real know-it-all. BTW....any pilot who wilfully ditched an airliner at 300 mph would be an idiot. Even in an emergency situation where an airliner runs out of fuel (such as occured a couple of years ago off the coast of Africa with a hijacked airliner), the pilot managed to ditch the aeroplane successfully and although it broke up, many passengers survived and were rescued.