Wednesday, November 2, 2011

In flight hell

It’s hard to believe it was this time last year I was attempting to save the world in New York. This year’s conference for BSR(Business for Social Responsibility) is in San Francisco. The only difference being this year I am on my own, and not supported by a large billion dollar corporation. I feel very small.
I booked my flight and accommodation and packed my bags for a 2 day visit, kissed my son and wife goodbye and set off for the airport. Now this would normally be a routine flight. Not much time to get into trouble one would have thought.
 It all started to go pair shaped when I had my hand luggage checked. After taking off my shoes, belt and jacket, and emptying the contents of my computer case and clothing into four different baskets, I stepped through the scanner and waited.  My hand luggage appeared and was immediately taken back through for a rescan.” After 3 scans, the agent asked “Is this your bag, Sir”, holding it out away from her body as if it might explode. After a brief search, she found the offending culprit, a large tube of toothpaste. “This violates FAA rules”, she explained. “Oh, is it not the right brand,” I asked innocently?  “If sir would like a FULL body search”, she said, snapping on a pair of surgical gloves, “Sir can continue with the smart comments.”  I declined.
I repacked my bag and got dressed and headed off to the departure lounge sans toothpaste, safe in the knowledge that another terrorist threat had been thwarted.  Once I got on the flight, I settled down between too very large gentlemen who promptly fell asleep, wedging me in the middle. It was like sitting between two vehicle airbags, without the crash. I rummaged in my bag for the Cornish Pasty I had made the previous night, and was salivating at the thought of its savory scrumciousness. I pulled out the bag from which a perfectly formed Pastie had been inserted only a few hours before and stared down at the miserable pile of remnants.  I almost wept.
Not one to be beaten, I pulled out a pinch of pastry crumbs and ground lamb and tried to steer the bits into my open mouth. Air bag #1 jolted awake just as I was attempting this delicate manoeuver, sending most of the contents down the inside of my shirt, and the rest onto my khaki pants. As I squirmed in my seat to dislodge the food particles, trying not to disturb my two grossly inflated bookends, I successfully managed to transfer some of the stuff down the front round onto my back. The more I squirmed, the more it travelled, the more it itched. It was even straying down in to the belt line. By the time the flight landed, I was going mental, not to mention smelling like a butcher's pie shop.  I made a dash for the bathroom in the departure lounge and took off my clothes to remove the offending Pasty particles.  When I emerged to wash my hands, I saw this crazy, grey haired old guy looking back at me. I hadn’t combed my hair after my shower this morning  and I looked like the Doc in Back to the Future. 


  1. This place is the best to stay while spending a holiday season Christmas Eve.

    Pousada Ubatuba

  2. Oh dear. So funny. But oh dear. Good luck flying solo at the conference!

  3. Hello:
    We really do not like flying, so your cautionary tale just adds more fuel to the flames of our dislike of this mode of transport.

    Your account really made us smile, but the whole flying experience nowadays does seem very far removed from those glamorous early days !!

  4. Wally - hadn't appreciated that you were away on your ownio - did you enjoy yourself? Press plenty of flesh and get some contracts under your belt (as well as pie crumbs?!).

    Bet you're glad to be back in Vashon!

    Ali x

  5. I hope you had/have a successful conference. So, your pasties are not of the "drop it down the mine and see it bounce" variety? My Mum's weren't either. There is no store-bought equivalent.

  6. Loved the bit about being squeezed between two airbags. I laughed out loud several times throughout this post. Thank-you! I hope the ends justified the means for this trip.

  7. I love that you took a packed lunch.Hope the conference went well:)

  8. glad to hear you're still supporting the Cornish pasty! what a shame it ended up as a bit of a nasty...ho ho ho.


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