Fear the 79% / Why I Will Never Fly Again

Posted on December 15, 2011


There are only two emotions in a plane: boredom and terror.
~Orson Welles

I am always concerned about, and occasionally terrified by, the people I meet on a day-to-day basis. Despite being usually pleasant, you can never be sure whether they are planning to kick a dog or set an old woman on fire. Occasionally, I have these fears confirmed and I am always at least mostly suspicious of strangers. Maybe I’m paranoid, but recently I realised that it’s not me that’s wrong, it’s you.

The story below first captured my attention because it seemed to reinforce my natural terror of being stuck in a metal coffin, surrounded by lunatics thousands of feet in the air. But it’s more than that.

Let’s assume that you are on a plane. Someone is attempting to open the door because they have seen a cloud that looks a bit like Amy Winehouse and they want to take a picture. Fine. The plane holds several hundred people and you would be incredibly lucky not to get at least one nutter. But look again. According to this recent MSN survey, of the ten people in your immediate proximity, seven of them are secretly hoping that a hole opens in the side of the plane, sucking out all the air and causing an emergency landing in a volcano. On the other hand, at least 2 people disagree with the entertainment in principle but they are willing to see it through to the end. The remaining person is so apathetic that they have to refer to an MSN article to make a decision, and this is what they see…

So the next time you board a plane, forget the Muslim extremists. The real danger will be elsewhere. As you watch the Saudi business man in shifts, ensuring that his Sudoku puzzle is not an elaborate, paper-based explosive, some drunk will jettison the doors and trigger the shortest applause in history.

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