View from the Bridge: 36
by John Morrison
36: Flights of Fancy
The Smallholder family has picked the wrong day to fly from Heathrow to some sun-kissed, malaria-ridden, Caribbean holiday haven. They had been hoping to get away from family, friends and the grinning loons who've been asking, increasingly irritatingly, since October: "Are you ready for Christmas?"
Because of the fire at Heathrow Airport's Terminal 1, the Smallholders' flight has been delayed. Worse, they've got to sit around in the departure lounge, twiddling their thumbs, waiting for something to happen: a convincing dress-rehursal for being dead. Even worse than that, they are surrounded by package-holiday riff-raff: the very people they have spent a small fortune to avoid. It's a shambles.
The Smallholders travel first-class - or better - whenever they fly. It would make every sense if the first-class surcharge trimmed a few hours off the flight time. But, of course, it doesn't. The people travelling in sub-economy class arrive at exactly the same time. This infuriates Mr Smallholder, who feels that on arrival they should be incarcerated on the plane for a few extra hours, to wipe the windows and collect the sick-bags.
The airline bosses, aware of these inconveniently egalitarian arrival times, know they can't really make first-class any more luxorious. The glamorous hostesses already cater to the first-class passengers' every whim ("More champagne, sir? A blowjob?") so the easiest way to emphasise the gap between the classes is to make life in the cheap seats utterly unbearable.
The budget passengers don't get meals; they just get a Pot Noodle each and a kettle to share. All the films feature violent plane crashes. The in-flight music consists entirely of Chris de Burgh concerts. The drinks are spiked with laxatives, and the toilet paper removed. The hostesses don't bother to demonstrate what will happen in a crash, because there aren't any hostesses. Bizarrely, it takes more than this to dispel the passenger's high spirits in sub-economy class. They usually have a round of applause when the plane lands safely, and organise a whip-round for the pilot.
(Memo to airline executives: forget all that nonsense about reassuring passengers: "in case of landing on water, your life-jackets are under your seat". At the risk of being pedantic, you don't land on water; you plummet fatally from a great height.)
This 'Outside Broadcast' episode of View From The Bridge has been sponsored by the Milltown Travel Agency.
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