The Lighter side of Flying
As an international keynote speaker who lives at airports and in hotels, flying has become a way of life, with all it’s ups and downs. I thought it may be a good idea to jot down some of the airline stories I have heard, experienced and gathered over the years.. You can well imagine, 25 years of global travel and 125 countries later – one does have a certain understanding of the airline industry. More than often one has to look at the lighter side to cope with the stresses of being a frequent flyer.
Many years ago I was on a plane taking off from Kennedy Airport. After it reached a comfortable cruising altitude, the captain began his standard welcome announcement over the intercom, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Welcome to our nonstop flight from New York to London. The weather ahead is good and therefore we should have a smooth and uneventful flight. Now sit back and relax – “OH MY WORD!”……………….. Silence!
Everyone on board went quiet and held their breath. A few seconds later the captain came back on the intercom and said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I am so sorry if I scared you earlier, but while I was talking, the flight-attendant brought me a cup of coffee and spilled the hot coffee in my lap. You should see what the front of my trousers looks like!” A passenger sitting three rows behind me suddenly shouted back, “That’s nothing! You should see the back of mine!”
The other day I was at the airport and as I reached the check in line I noticed a gentleman with a long overcoat in front of me. It was cold that day so I took no notice. As he was about to hand in his ticket to the lady behind the counter, he suddenly flashed her. For the first time in my life I had experienced a true life flasher. To my surprise, the check-in lady didn’t bat an eyelid, instead she casually remarked, “Sir, I asked for your ticket, not your stub!”
While on the topic of checking in, last year during the Christmas period I noticed some mistletoe hanging over the baggage counter of another airline with a particularly attractive lady in attendance. Being a typical male who appreciates a beautiful woman, I naturally headed for this particular check in counter, even though it wasn’t my airline) and asked the lady on the other side, “Is the mistletoe for the passengers or for the staff?” Waiting in anticipation for her answer, she casually replied, “No, it’s for your baggage, so that you can kiss it goodbye!”
You think I am making this up! On a trip from London To Los Angeles last year, we hit a turbulence pocket which shook the plane, causing the stewardess to spill hot coffee on my lap. “I’m so sorry, sir” ,the flustered flight attendant said. “Are you all right?” “Yes, I think so”, I replied. “But tell me, was that regular or decaf coffee?” “Regular”, she replied. ”Just my luck”, I moaned. “Now, I’m going to be up all night!” Often one needs to take an accident like this and see the lighter side, especially for the sake of the embarrassed flight attendant. PS … you gotta think about that one!
Flying so often, I find that even on land I am affected by my airline thoughts. Recently I performed at an exclusive formal function and I met a young lady wearing a lovely gownless evening strap. (Yes, that’s literally what it was) Around her neck she wore a small golden airplane pendant on a long chain. Let me just backtrack a moment. When I say the gown was low-cut, even the most disciplined and well mannered gentleman would have had a problem not sneaking a glance. Well, she caught me doing so, and I could not hide the fact. Cleverly she held up the airplane and said “Oh, you like my airplane, huh?” There are times I am glad I am an entertainer and that I have a barrage of jokes and comments to fall back on. Also, humour is known to diffuse many an embarrassing situation. Hence I merely replied, “No ma’am, I was just admiring the landing field.”
Talking about beautiful women one bumps into at airports, a few years ago on a flight to Johannesburg I had an elegant lady sitting next to me, wearing the largest, most stunning diamond ring I had ever seen. I naturally asked her about it. “This is the Klopman diamond”, she said. “However, besides the fact that it is so big and so beautiful, there is a terrible curse that goes with it.” “What’s the curse?” I queried, with concern. She replied, “Mr. Klopman!”
How often have you flown, only to be sitting next to a screaming baby or rude child? No matter how annoying this may be, they also need to go on vacation and parents are in their full right to take them along. I fly often with my daughters, yet pride myself in them being well behaved. However, at a certain age, the children do tend to ask numerous questions. Especially when it is the first time they are flying. This is all a new experience for them and they want answers. Recently, flying over Europe I had a woman with her 4 year old son next to me. He was a pleasant youngster, but I think his mom couldn’t take the barrage of questions anymore. Nevertheless, about an hour after we took off the son, who had been looking out the window, turned to his mother and said, “If big dogs have baby dogs, and big cats have baby cats, why don’t big planes have baby planes?” The mother, who no doubt couldn’t think of an answer, told her son to ask the stewardess. So the boy asked the stewardess, “If big dogs have baby dogs, and big cats have baby cats, why don’t big planes have baby planes?” The stewardess then asked him, “Did your mother tell you to ask me that?” He said that she had. So the stewardess said, “Go tell your mother that I said, … Not on this airline, as we always pull out on time!”
With all these new low cost airlines around the service is somewhat questionable at times. Another true story, the stewardess came up to me in business class. By the way, if you haven’t flown business class, I strongly recommend it. They have silver cutlery! I don’t even have that at home …. Er … well, now I have. Nevertheless, the stewardess asked me if I would like some breakfast, and I asked her what my choices were? She merely replied, “Yes” or “No”!
Occasionally, airline attendants make an effort to make the ”in-flight safety lecture” and their other announcements a bit more entertaining. Here are some real examples that have been heard or reported:
1. “There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only four ways out of this airplane…”
2. Pilot — “Folks, we have reached our cruising altitude now, so I am going to switch the seat belt sign off. Feel free to move about as you wish, but please stay inside the plane till we land… it’s a bit cold outside, and if you walk on the wings it affects the flight pattern.”
3. After landing: “Thank you for flying XYZ Airlines. We hope you enjoyed giving us the business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride.”
4. As the plane landed and was coming to a stop at Washington National, a lone voice comes over the loudspeaker: “Whoa, big fella. WHOA!”
5. After a particularly rough landing during thunderstorms, a flight attendant announced : “Please take care when opening the overhead compartments because, after a landing like that, sure as hell everything has shifted.”
6. Welcome aboard XYZ Airlines Flight XXX to YYY. To operate your seatbelt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seatbelt and if you don’t know how to operate one, you probably shouldn’t be out in public unsupervised. In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child traveling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are traveling with two small children, decide now which one you love more.
7. Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but they’ll try to have them fixed before we arrive. Thank you, and remember, nobody loves you or your money, more than XYZ Airlines.
8. “Your seat cushions can be used for flotation and in the event of an emergency water landing, please take them with our compliments.”
9. “As you exit the plane, please make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses.”
10. “Last one off the plane must clean it.”
11. From the pilot during his welcome message: “We are pleased to have some of the best flight attendants in the industry… Unfortunately none of them are on this flight…!
14. An airline pilot wrote that on this particular flight he had hammered his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which required the first officer to stand at the door while the passengers exited, smile, and give them a ”Thanks for flying XYZ airline.” He said that in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment. Finally, everyone had gotten off except for this little old lady walking with a cane. She said, “Sonny, mind if I ask you a question?” “Why no, Ma’am,” said the pilot, “what is it ?” The little old lady said, “Did we land or were we shot down ?”
15. After a real crusher of a landing in Phoenix, the Flight Attendant came on with, “Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Captain Crash and the Crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt up against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we’ll open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal.”
16. Part of a Flight Attendant’s arrival announcement: “We’d like to thank you folks for flying with us today. And, the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurised metal tube, we hope you’ll think of us here at XYZ Airlines.”