Edward Lai Harner, Edward Harner
Andrea Harner
andreaharnerblog AT gmail
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September 12, 2006

Fear of flying: Welcome aboard

If you like this post, digg it!

A great piece from The Economist: In-flight announcements are not entirely truthful. What might an honest one sound like?


"GOOD morning, ladies and gentlemen. We are delighted to welcome you aboard Veritas Airways, the airline that tells it like it is. Please ensure that your seat belt is fastened, your seat back is upright and your tray-table is stowed. At Veritas Airways, your safety is our first priority. Actually, that is not quite true: if it were, our seats would be rear-facing, like those in military aircraft, since they are safer in the event of an emergency landing. But then hardly anybody would buy our tickets and we would go bust.

The flight attendants are now pointing out the emergency exits. This is the part of the announcement that you might want to pay attention to. So stop your sudoku for a minute and listen: knowing in advance where the exits are makes a dramatic difference to your chances of survival if we have to evacuate the aircraft. Also, please keep your seat belt fastened when seated, even if the seat-belt light is not illuminated. This is to protect you from the risk of clear-air turbulence, a rare but extremely nasty form of disturbance that can cause severe injury. Imagine the heavy food trolleys jumping into the air and bashing into the overhead lockers, and you will have some idea of how nasty it can be. We don't want to scare you. Still, keep that seat belt fastened all the same.

Your life-jacket can be found under your seat, but please do not remove it now. In fact, do not bother to look for it at all. In the event of a landing on water, an unprecedented miracle will have occurred, because in the history of aviation the number of wide-bodied aircraft that have made successful landings on water is zero. This aircraft is equipped with inflatable slides that detach to form life rafts, not that it makes any difference. Please remove high-heeled shoes before using the slides. We might as well add that space helmets and anti-gravity belts should also be removed, since even to mention the use of the slides as rafts is to enter the realm of science fiction.

Please switch off all mobile phones, since they can interfere with the aircraft's navigation systems. At least, that's what you've always been told. The real reason to switch them off is because they interfere with mobile networks on the ground, but somehow that doesn't sound quite so good. On most flights a few mobile phones are left on by mistake, so if they were really dangerous we would not allow them on board at all, if you think about it. We will have to come clean about this next year, when we introduce in-flight calling across the Veritas fleet. At that point the prospect of taking a cut of the sky-high calling charges will miraculously cause our safety concerns about mobile phones to evaporate.

On channel 11 of our in-flight entertainment system you will find a video consisting of abstract imagery and a new-age soundtrack, with a voice-over explaining some exercises you can do to reduce the risk of deep-vein thrombosis. We are aware that this video is tedious, but it is not meant to be fun. It is meant to limit our liability in the event of lawsuits.

Once we have reached cruising altitude you will be offered a light meal and a choice of beverages—a word that sounds so much better than just saying ‘drinks’, don't you think? The purpose of these refreshments is partly to keep you in your seats where you cannot do yourselves or anyone else any harm. Please consume alcohol in moderate quantities so that you become mildly sedated but not rowdy. That said, we can always turn the cabin air-quality down a notch or two to help ensure that you are sufficiently drowsy.

After take-off, the most dangerous part of the flight, the captain will say a few words that will either be so quiet that you will not be able to hear them, or so loud that they could wake the dead. So please sit back, relax and enjoy the flight. We appreciate that you have a choice of airlines and we thank you for choosing Veritas, a member of an incomprehensible alliance of obscure foreign outfits, most of which you have never heard of. Cabin crew, please make sure we have remembered to close the doors. Sorry, I mean: ‘Doors to automatic and cross-check’. Thank you for flying Veritas.”


The rear-facing seats on the C-5 Galaxy, C-17 Globemaster III and C-141 Starlifter (which you used to be able to experience on Southwest flights, but alas - no more!) are annoying...

They may be safer but leaning forward as you take off is just... strange. You never truly get used to it.

Posted by: |mr|Darcy at September 12, 2006 1:21 PM

Hey Andrea, not cool man, you give us the first paragraph of what looks to be like an a cool article and then we find out we have to subscribe to the Economist just to finish that one?!?!

Can I borrow your login and password just this once, please, haha.

Posted by: Michael at September 12, 2006 3:14 PM


I'm so sorry! I guess because I subscribe to the Economist the article appears for me. What I've done is included the entire article. Enjoy!


Posted by: Andrea at September 12, 2006 3:26 PM

thanks Andrea, thats super nice of you, hey you still enjoyin those jayz beats?

Posted by: Michael at September 12, 2006 3:33 PM

funny!/not funny!
thanks! i needed a laugh!

Posted by: ko at September 12, 2006 9:05 PM

The real reason that they ask you to keep seat belts fastened is that if the airplane crashes it is easier to ID the bodies from the seat number.

Posted by: Doug Bader at September 13, 2006 2:41 PM

that's hilarious. i'm definitely linking to this. i wouldn't want one of my friends to accidently puncture the water landing slide/raft with her high heel...

Posted by: wen at September 14, 2006 3:07 PM

I'd like to know the real deal with having to turn iPods and such off during take-off and landing. Having music going for take-off is the best part.

Posted by: rob at September 14, 2006 5:17 PM

> real reason that they ask you
> to keep seat belts fastened [...]

Yes, but remember that clear-air turbolence is the first reason of death among flight assistants, since they are always walking up and down the corridors to keep us "high" with single portions of alchool :)

Posted by: Emilio at September 15, 2006 12:16 PM
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