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In-Fright Announcement


Via Consumerist, a Chinese blogger typed up the hilarious piece from the print version of The Economist about what a truthful on-airline announcement might sound like. Here's an excerpt:

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.

Yes, but if you are talking on your cell in-flight, there's always that danger of me killing you with my bare hands.

Posted by aalkon at September 13, 2006 1:40 PM

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Posted by: Deirdre B. at September 13, 2006 5:15 AM

We're probably not supposed to drink on airplanes, but that's the best place on Earth to feel the buzz, up over the clouds when you're feeling pretty good and privileged anyway.

Can someone explain how cell phones were used by the doomed passengers on 9/11? The few times I've turned on a phone in flight, there hasn't been enough signal to dial with. At that rate of speed it seems to be doing a handoff between cells, or negotiating between the twenty available but weak signals. The 9/11 were flying too low, but they were also flying too fast. So what's the story? I'd assumed they were actually using the seat-back phones.

Posted by: Crid at September 13, 2006 8:29 AM

Crid, actually, there are a bunch of people who say that there never were any cell phone calls made from the airplanes, only seat-bck phone calls, that the altitude and speed would have made it impossible.

Posted by: Hasan at September 13, 2006 9:08 AM

"Yes, but if you are talking on your cell in-flight, there's always that danger of me killing you with my bare hands."

I cringe every time I think about the useless years we're going to have to waste a) letting people chat on their cell phones in the air until b) people rise up and complain and there are columns written and editorials spewed and eventually legislation or rules created which c) separate callers from non-callers like smokers from non-smokers used to be until d) they just stop allowing cell phones to be used on planes (like cigarettes) which is where we are now.

I second that for the subway cars in NYC, which will probably get service underground before the planes do, and which are less likely to see segregation of callers from non-callers. I already hate riding certain lines which go above ground, and the minute we see daylight all of those stupid little phone lights go on and people start talking in that CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW voice. About feeding the dog. Or picking up milk. Or absolutely nothing at all.

I'd pay to watch you strangle someone on their cell, Amy, subway or plane.

Posted by: Kitt at September 13, 2006 9:57 AM

Yeah, that v^2 really bites you in the ass. Though there was that passenger jet that got hijacked, then ran out of go-juice and went down somewhere just off the coast of Africa (I think) -- the plane broke up, but I seem to remember most of those guys making it.

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at September 13, 2006 1:13 PM

It is a wonder we fly at all, isn't it?

May I tell you that I admired your composure and your remarks Sunday? It was a wonderful event. Cathy is much loved by her friends.

Posted by: Katharine Anthony at September 13, 2006 6:07 PM

Cell phones don't always cause interference problems, but
there are reports that sometimes they do.

If you look over NASA's ASRS (Aviation Safety Reporting System)
databases, you can see incidents of electronic interference
with navigation. For instance, see

I've reproduced one incident below. It's not a direct
copy, as the original is all upper case and full of jargon and
abbreviations which I've tried to expand so that it's
generally understandable.

Navigational interference over CHT [one of the radio beacon
locations]. [Air Traffic Control] Cleared [us], "Turn right 10
degrees, intercept localizer [electronic guidance beam] for
runway 31 Left. Plan to circle to land on runway 22 Left."
Upon tuning localizer frequency and setting course, it appeared
we were on the localizer [i.e. the needle on the instrument
showed that they were on the course they should be on],
although visually we appeared South of course. The CDI [same
instrument needle as above] then swung full scale to the other
side, indicating we were North of course. I turned to center
the CDI and we switched [communications radio] to Tower. My
CDI swung right, indicating we were South of course. I noticed
the Flight Officer's CDI was swinging the same direction as
mine, but moving about half as far, when we saw the runway. We
were North of course, with CDIs indicating we were South of
course. We were high and well North of course when Tower asked
if we could get down from there. We asked to be turned out to
re-enter the pattern. Upon turning outbound, we made a PA
[public announcement] asking people to please make sure their
cell phones and other equipment were turned off. The CDIs
immediately became steady and we completed a normal ILS
[precision instrument approach] to runway 31 left, with circle
to land on runway 22 left with normal indications and the
flight attendants reported that a woman was talking on her cell
phone. As soon as she turned her phone off, our CDI indicated

Posted by: Ron at September 14, 2006 6:32 AM

good thing the weather wasn't too skosh. the ILS systems for them pretty much takes them all the way to the ground. decision height is not the time you want to find out you're a mile south of the airfield, especially when your decision height is less than 50 feet.

Posted by: g*mart at September 14, 2006 10:41 AM

As long as people are talking much too loudly, I don't care if their conversation is with themselves, on the phone, or with another actually present person. I do cringe at the inanity and incredibly personal details some people say on their cell phones, but then again, some people are like that anyway. And I'd rather my seatmate was chatting on the phone than trying to force a conversation with me... But I get the point, because unfortunately most cell phone users do talk way too loudly... so on balance, I guess I'm with you.

Posted by: The Ridger at September 14, 2006 6:51 PM

Folks, if you want to see what aircraft casualties have occurred in the history of commercial aviation, look at .

And meanwhile, let us remember the wisdom of comedian James Gregory (paraphrased):

"I'm amazed when they get up there and say, 'In the event of a water landing, your seat back can be used as a flotation device.'. I am not impressed. I'm flying from Omaha to Louisville. You want to impress me, show me a seat cushion can bounce up out of a cornfield."

Posted by: Radwaste at September 15, 2006 10:13 AM

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