Sunday February 10, 2013
Zip it, Mr Pilot
BIG SMILE NO TEETH
By JASON GODFREY
Donít you just hate how the pilot, his co-pilot and sometimes even the flight attendants canít keep their hands off the PA mic?
RECENTLY Iíve been flying Ė no, not flying in the superhero or even metaphorical sense but flying in the Iím-wedged-between-two-other-sweaty-humans-who-also-canít-afford-business-class seats Ė and Iíve been flying this way a lot.
Now Iím not going to complain about lack of leg room, or seats that recline a whopping 4į, or about the re-heated and then re-heated and then re-heated-yet-again food, or the fact that Jennifer Aniston seems to have at least two movies showing on any given flight.
Nope, Iím cool Ė meaning, have come to terms with Ė all of these annoyances.
What I canít stand and continues to irritate me is the constant stream of in-flight announcements, and the fact that these announcements interrupt the already hard-to-enjoy Jennifer Aniston movie I undoubtedly watch.
Seriously, Iíve been on flights where time seemed to slow to a crawl while the pilot and attendants dominated the tinny cabin speaker with useless announcements, all while poor Jen was paused, frozen in mid-sentence on my screen with one eye shut and her mouth half-open.
To be certain, we need in-flight announcements. We need to know that weíre going through a patch of turbulence and that we should sit down or we risk getting thrown about the cabin like a poodle in a cement mixer. We need information when one of the engines bursts into flames and the pilot calmly informs us not to urinate in our seats because weíve got three other perfectly good engines (this actually happened to a friend of mine).
By all means, interrupt the horrendous rom-com Iím watching for any of those reasons. These arenít the sorts of announcements I deem unnecessary.
Itís the other pesky ones.
Basically the flight starts with a completely useless address from the pilot. You know, the one where he mumbles into the microphone, sounding like heís semi-distracted as he tells us our altitude, heading, time to destination, crosswind, and a myriad of other seemingly useful information over a speaker that sounds like it was stolen from a fast food drive-through.
Now I can imagine in a different time Ė say 1935 Ė this pilotís address wouldíve been great information; the only problem now is that in-seat screens display all the flight details, so all the pilot is doing is reciting information that most of us have already read four times over on the screen in front of us.
I suppose this pilotís announcement is a relic of a bygone era and is sort of a tradition, but traditions can change. For instance flight attendants, the pleasant folk who have to put up with an in-flight-announcement-irritated passenger like myself, started out not only serving passengers but loading luggage, refuelling the plane, and even acting as mechanics. Itís probably a good thing that tradition has died. I feel much more comfortable knowing that the attendants arenít moonlighting as airplane mechanics nowadays.
But some announcements arenít about tradition, like the ones that announce the opening and closing of duty free shopping. Duty free shopping?
Iím in economy! Clearly, I barely have money for this flight let alone buying designer sunglasses or an overpriced die-cast paper weight of a 747 from your duty free store. Even more irritating about the duty free announcement is that the needless statement is repeated several times in other languages, meaning that the Jennifer Aniston rom-com Iím watching is starting and stopping like a breakdancer doing the robot.
And the powers-that-be help you if youíre on a flight going to or from Japan. Because then, what takes one minute to announce in English, Bahasa, or Mandarin, will take exactly four hours and 26 minutes in Japanese.
Really. I donít know what the attendants are saying in Japanese Ė maybe theyíre telling little in-jokes like ďI think the guy watching that crappy Jennifer Aniston movie is getting upset by our duty free announcementĒ Ė but it always seems to take forever.
Suffice to say, Iím not real keen on in-flight announcements but as my godfather has told me many times, usually after listening to me complain too much: Donít complain about something if youíre not ready to try to change it.
Well, Iím not really ready to change it, but Iíve prepared a solution. To avoid the tyranny of unnecessary in-flight announcements, one simply flies with a tablet, PC, MP3 player, and a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. Then you can play all the games, and watch the entire Jennifer Aniston library of romantic comedies, all without interruption (though you may suffer minor brain injury from watching that many Jennifer Aniston films but letís deal with one problem at a time).
Yep, flying in your own metaphorical cocoon, you wonít be interrupted at all by pesky announcements or start and stopping entertainment. Yep, with noise cancelling headphones, you can be sure that youíll be the passenger whoís completely unaware of your own volume as you shout your order at the flight attendants, and youíll be the oblivious one who is constantly getting up to the use the toilet after turbulence has been announced so that the attendants must chase you down and escort you back to your seat.
And maybe thatís the real reason in-flight announcements persist, as a form of in-flight karma to get back at us, the obnoxious passengers.
Jason Godfrey can be seen hosting The LINK on Life Inspired (Astro B.yond Ch 706). Speak to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.