Rethinking Air Travel

Once, while I was on an airplane – on my way to Texas – the power went off. That’s right the POWER went OFF. It just stopped. The lights went off. The turbines shut down. Things got scary quiet. Then, briefly, that sound that you hear planes make in WWII movies when they are dive-bombing… well that noise briefly started. Almost simultaneously, passengers started gasping, cussing, and screaming. People were freaked. I distinctly remember saying a prayer at that moment. It probably consisted of something really profound like: “God, please HELP!”

Almost as soon as everybody was sufficiently terrified, the power came right back on. The lights came back on. I have to think that we were all silently rejoicing in relief at the sound of the turbines starting back up… Everyone then sat there in total silence until ten minutes later when the stewardess came over the loudspeaker informing us that we had experienced a “fluke” power outage. Passenger grumbling ensued.

Understandably, I think that I have pretty much said a prayer at every take off and landing of every flight I have ever taken since then. That being said though, I almost never pay attention to the flight attendant when they go over those seat belt/emergency procedures. I’m usually really busy doing something very important like reading the Sky Mall Magazine. That is, until the other day…

For some reason, at that moment in my life, it popped into my mind that maybe I should pay attention. Boy, am I sorry that I did because when the stewardess directed us to the safety instructions in the seat back pocket in front of us – well let’s just say I was in for a shocking surprise. Actually, for a second I thought Tyler Durden had been on the plane before me. Come to find out, airlines safety instructions are just pretty messed up in general.

For instance, did you know that in the event of a water landing the inflatable emergency slides at the exits of the planes are what double as the life rafts for passengers?!? That’s awesome because if I’m going to crash into shark infested waters I really want to be floating around on a glorified Slip N Slide.

Or take the main photo of this article (top right). This is the “bracing position” for a water or land emergency “landing”. I don’t know about you but the photo in the middle kinda looks like the expression – “put you head between your legs and…” well you know the rest. Not VERY comforting!

Then there is he photo that says “Do not use… No use…” (left). I understand the no lighters, pagers, etc. – but who the heck it trying to use a remote controlled car on an airplane? Someone who reads Sky Mall that’s who. Might as well add remote control helicopters while you’re at it.

Then there is the third picture posted (below right) that has to do with essentially “looking before you leap”. But, whoever created this graphic made it look like a superhero is on the plane using his eyes to start fires, break glass and flood other airplane’s doors… Heaven only knows what chaos the guy under the exit sign is creating.

If this wasn’t all problematic enough, then all passengers are told on every flight – even on a flight completely over land that, in the event of a water landing, their seat cushion can be used as a floatation device. This kinda freaks me out. Are they subtly telling us that if there is a problem they are going to aim for water? Because if so, I’d like to know up front so I can start wearing a life jacket and carrying a inflatable raft in my carry on for all of my flights.

See, sometimes ignorance IS bliss…

Thus, in order to reassure myself the next time I get into an airplane – I’ve searched diligently to find the final two safety instructions (below) that better suit my hopes of what will happen if I ever find myself in an air travel altercation. There – emergency problems solved… now back to my Sky Mall.