One of the benefits of working in the post Covid world is the way in which travel for work has become less important.
Forced into familiarising ourselves with communications platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams means that even the most-inept technophobes and Luddites can now easily join a meeting remotely, without giving it a second thought.
Anyone who previously had to catch a red eye flight to Luton or Stansted, before enduring two hours of sweaty rail and underground travel for a meeting that lasted 45 minutes, only to then make the return journey to arrive home just in time for bed, can’t but secretly believe that the global pandemic has had some lasting benefits.
Not to mention the senior business heads that used to think it perfectly acceptable to drag an executive across continents for meetings that could just as easily have been held remotely.
Directors and presidents of companies gave little thought to the stresses and trauma of airline travel that underlings had to endure just so they could be in the same room as them to read out a column of figures on a spreadsheet.
And it’s not just the notoriously egregious budget airlines that made unnecessary business travel such a burden. Often, we put our lives in the hands of elite airlines that charged the earth for 18 inches of legroom only for their staff to behave like naughty adolescents.
Recently, a vaping pilot on board an Air China Boeing 737 caused his plane to make an emergency descent after he accidentally shut off the plane’s air conditioning system – causing insufficient oxygen levels in the cabin.
Stories are legion about cabin crew getting drunk in airport hotel bars until the early hours, not realising their behaviour is being watched, and they they’re surprised to be arrested when they enter the cockpit a couple of hours later with the smell of booze on their breath strong enough to shame George Best.
But let’s not be too hard on the professionals. In most cases flights are forced to land because of the behaviour of passengers that can range from peculiar to outright headbanging. Here are a few examples.
- A family forced an emergency landing after deciding the in-flight movie wasn’t suitable for their children to watch. When cabin crew refused to shut-off communal TV monitors for the PG-13 rated film, the high maintenance parents demanded to speak with the captain. When they refused to back down, the Denver bound flight was diverted to Chicago for ‘security reasons’.
- A Qatar Airways plane en route from Doha to Bali had to take an unexpected detour after a jealous wife used her sleeping husband’s fingerprint to open his mobile phone — and discovered he was cheating on her. The rowing couple and their child were removed in Chennai, India, after which the crew continued onto to Indonesia.
- A Turkish Airlines flight was disrupted after a crew member discovered a wi-fi network created on board named Bomb on Board. All 100 passengers were evacuated after the aircraft was diverted to an airport in Khartoum, Sudan.
- An American Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing because a passenger refused to stop singing Whitney Houston’s hit song I Will Always Love You.
- A Boeing 747 jumbo jet was diverted to Heathrow after several hundred cows on board overheated the cabin, triggering fire alarms while flying over the Irish Sea.
- Passengers aboard an EgyptAir flight relived the movie Snakes on a Plane when a Jordanian reptile salesman smuggled a deadly cobra onto their flight and then allowed it to escape. The snake slithered between seats, causing general uproar before biting its handler and forcing the pilot to ground the aircraft.
- A nasty smell forced Qantas flight from Darwin to Brisbane had to make an emergency landing at Mount Isa, 1000 miles from its destination. The pong was eventually located to a dirty nappy stuffed into a recess of one of the toilets.
- A JetBlue flight from New York to California was diverted after a woman created such a scene after discovering that the passenger sitting next to her had paid less for her eat that she had to me restrained by air marshals.
- A passenger on a Transavia flight from Spain to the Netherlands caused the plane to make an emergency landing in Portugal after other passengers reportedly began fainting due to his overpowering odor. It was later discovered that the man’s body odor was not because of poor hygiene, but due to necrosis, a body tissue disease that he contracted from a beach.
- The pilot of a Sichuan Airlines flight diverted to Chengdu Shuangliu after the windscreen shattered and his co-pilot was sucked halfway out of the window at 30,000 feet. Luckily the co-pilot was held in by his seatbelt and he suffered only scratches and a sprained wrist.
Given the choice, I think most of us would much rather join a Zoom call.