Tag Archives: Delta

The killer in plane view

I have to tell you that I got it all wrong, dear reader. After all these years wishing that I’d become a spy, I’ve finally realiszed that I was aiming at the wrong profession. Because – frankly – if there’s a better job in the world than being an air marshal, I’m yet to hear about it.

Now admittedly my jealousy may in part have been caused by the fact that I have been bumped off my return flight from Los Angeles back to New York this morning by Delta needing to find a seat for an air marshal. But given that I found out about it moments before getting on board the outbound flight reminded me that I could spend the entire journey picking out that flight’s marshal from among the passengers.

For the uninitiated, an air marshal is a federal employee whose job it is to ‘neutralisze’ any terrorist on the plane. And to be honest, it would have been more difficult to pick out Lady Gaga in her full regalia than the ‘incognito’ undercover agent, such was the average age of the 16 people occupying the business class seats. I can only assume that LA was hosting a Golden Girls convention this weekend.

Infact, if it hadn’t been for a swarthy guy sitting across the aisle from me looking like he’d just stepped off the set of CSI Miami, I’d have been forced into the inevitable conclusion that I was the air marshal after all.

Still, sitting in such close proximity at least gave me the chance to observe what the marshal has to do during the course of the flight. And to be fair, from this exclusive log book that the marshal inadvertently left on his seat as he stepped off the plane, you’ll see that the job can’t be easy…

0930 Laugh at the plebs as I wander up to the front of the boarding line. Smirk as a fat man with some kind of McSausage McBiscuit starts audibly complaining about me pushing in. Idly ponder what his chubby little face will look like when I pop a cap in his ass if he steps out of line on the flight.
0942 Wonder if I can get away with a glass of champagne, but decide against it at the last minute. Order vodka and tonic instead.
1001 Attempt to blend in with the rest of the passengers by getting out some reading material. Always good to catch up with the latest news in Paid Assassin’s Monthly.
1029 Why does the guy across the aisle keep looking at me and taking notes?
1059 Order the granola for breakfast. I’d love the French toast, but find that a heavy stomach affects me something rotten when I’m trying to shoot terrorists.
1115 Look around the cabin at the other business passengers. Decide to keep a close eye on the grey haired woman in 2D. Wouldn’t be surprised if that cane she’s holding turned out to be an Uzi.
1201 Start watching Love Happens. Hope the guys back at the base never find out that I’ve seen every film that Jennifer Aniston has ever made. Twice.
1243 This holster is starting to chafe on my shoulder. Think about putting the gun in the overhead locker. No hijacker can get up at the moment anyway, as the captain’s illuminated the seatbelt sign.
1307 Flick through the SkyMall catalogue. Make note to buy video recording sunglasses on my next trip.
1341 Momentarily fall asleep, and almost shoot man in 3B when I’m woken with a jolt by the flight attendant dropping her tray of glasses
1401 Woman in the adjacent seat has decided to tell me all about her trip to visit her son in La Jolla. Attempt to feign interest, while hoping that she notices the six inch knife scar down the side of my face and decides to back off.
1424 Pilot says we’re coming into land. Thirty seven air marshal trips I’ve made now, and not a single opportunity to take down an Arab. On the plus side, my collection of in-flight headsets is looking superb these days,

Cushioning the blow

It’s days like this when you realise just how sodding big the United States is. This time yesterday, I was in Los Angeles soaking up the sun ahead of my long trip east back to The Special One and co. The temperature was in the 80s, and t-shirts and shorts were the only attire necessary.

Twenty four hours later, I’ve traveled two and a half thousand miles or so without leaving the country, and it’s suddenly colder than a PTA meeting that’s just received a surprise visit from Gary GlitterPee Wee Herman. It’s blowing a blizzard outside, and my nasal hair has been frozen rigid by a quick trip outside to postmail some letters.

Clear skies on the trip back from LA meant that I was able to take in the full extent of the American landscape from my window seat, from the glory of the Rockies and the Grand Canyon, through to the madness of Las Vegas and Manhattan. And if there’s one thing that’s clear, it’s that the cities of America – or even the built up areas – represent a tiny fraction of what is an astonishingly beautiful country. Admittedly, parts of the environment roughly resemble what I imagine the surface of the moon to be like, and are probably only ever going to be inhabitable by mountain goats with a penchant for eating gravel. But it’s still a damn impressive sight.

Thankfully my Delta flight proved to be uneventful. Not because I’m scared of flying – after all, I commuted back and forth between New York and London for an eternity (or eighteen months, if you prefer), and you can’t do that if you’ve got a head for heights like BA Baracus.

No, the problem I’ve got is actually with their safety procedures.

I generally don’t listen to the security briefing – I’ve heard it so many times, and despite everybody surviving the recent Heathrow crash, I’m largely of the opinion that if a plane goes down, it’s pretty much game over. But for some reason, I listened this time round. Amidst the “take off your high heels before leaving the plane via the emergency slide” and the “follow the lights at floor level until you reach your closest exit”, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the statement that “in the event of landing in water, most of our seat cushions can be used as flotation devices.”

Now, I think most of you will agree that if your plane has crash landed on water, things aren’t looking good. Especially if you’re – say – in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. But if you’ve landed in a lake, river or a reservoir, that flotation device might just come in handy. So why in hell aren’t all of their seat cushions capable of being used as flotation devices?!

I can just imagine the scene now:

Plane crash survivor 1: We’re so lucky to have survived this horrific crash, aren’t we?
Plane crash survivor 2: We sure are. But will we ever get out of this water alive?
PCS1: Don’t worry, you can use the seat cushion that you so handily remembered to bring with you as a flotation device.
PCS2: We’re saved! We’re saved! OK, here goes…erm, why am I sinking…?

Maybe the airline had budgetary issues when they were having their planes made by Boeing, and had to make cutbacks? But I can tell you one thing – if my plane ever goes down, and I find myself in the water with a seat cushion that doesn’t float, I am going to raise hell on the phone with their customer services team…

We’re flying Delta to Tennessee this weekend, and I’m fully expecting the flight staff to come over the intercom and tell passengers that most of their pilots can fly planes.

That said, if it keeps snowing for a few days, we won’t be flying anywhere. We’ll have to save our game of seat cushion Russian roulette for another week.

Hearing is believing

As if I didn’t feel enough out of water in New York, I’m currently in Los Angeles on work, having only been here once about three years ago. Suffice to say that I walk around with a confused expression that perpetually says “what the hell is going on here?”

Actually, it’s probably the fact that I’m walking that causes half the problem – LA residents only seem to use their legs to hold their torsos up, so even telling my taxi driver that I didn’t mind walking the few yards to the front of the hotel caused furrowed brows.

I knew I was heading somewhere truly different within minutes of taking off from JFK. A Delta flight attendant came over the PA system to inform us that the inflight entertainment system had been turned on and, this being America, we could buy headphones for just $2.

Her unique selling point? That we could spend our hard-earned cash on these aforementioned listening devices, and then take them off the aircraft once we arrived in Los Angeles and use them free of charge.

America really is the land of untold generosity.