From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]

http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=7884654

Fear of flying

In-flight announcements are not entirely truthful. What might an honest
one sound like?

Welcome aboard  /  Sep 7th 2006

“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.”