Sunday 23 December 2007

Unfasten your seat belts

Arrived safely

An update to the events of yesterday, regarding my flight to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

The control tower did not suffer complete radio silence; we arrived at our destination just about 4 hours 10 minutes behind schedule.

When I wrote the piece yesterday, my flight was delayed for a total of 2 hours 20 minutes, we finally boarded the alternate flight just after 3 hours of waiting and it was interesting to see one of those Dutch attitudes at play.

Seats for bags

I have written before that people have a tendency to occupy an extra seat for their bags on the bus, trams, trains and metro – well, since we had open seating on the plane, as I got on the plane, there were seats all up to halfway down the flight which were occupied by bags.

This is reminiscent of the generalised view that Germans pre-reserve beach seats and sun loungers with their towels in the witching hour (Someone burnt the towels) – my hotel has a big notice advising people to desist from that poor social attitude.

Indeed, there is some administrative encumbrance with pre-allocating seats but that means seating is efficient and people are forced to use the overhead bins or the space on the floor in front of them under then the seat.

Now, other advantages meant people could seat together with their large companies, it also meant, I was far from squealing children, especially, the ones that are completely implacable.

Safety instruction – unfasten seat beats

My fear however was about the flight being crewed by people unfamiliar with the layout of the plane considering I had recently watched the sinking of ship that lead to the major loss of life because the ship was crewed by people unfamiliar with the layout of the boat.

As we settled down, the captain welcomed us on board though without an apology from TUI, rather, he said they were stepping in for AkeFly, however, we had another 30 minutes to wait because the plane needed to be refuelled.

When the fuel truck arrived we were told more than twice to take off our seatbelts, I suppose that would be as a precaution if the highly volatile fuel were to spill, cause noxious fumes or catch fire.

In read now that in 2000 there was such an incident about fuel estimation/starvation and short landings - Hapag-Lloyd Flight 3378.

For the third possibility, I could not imagine how that tightly packed plane would have been evacuated – in fact, in the 80s there was a fire at the Johnson Wax aerosol factory in Lagos where my uncle worked and one of the things people said was people were getting seriously burnt but no one could see the flames – thankfully, my uncle was far away from the event though for a while there was someone else who shared his surname who had been caught in the inferno and eventually needed treatment in the States – we were beside ourselves for a while.

I cannot remember seeing the safety choreography and that is probably because the crew of HapagFly were German, but then English should have sufficed.

In fact, none of the safety instructions would have helped save passengers – seat belts, air masks, life jackets, brace position or getting to the emergency exits – we were put at very serious risk, though thankfully nothing untoward happened.

Better than ArkeFly

We took off and we were served hot meals, probably a stable for HapaqFly denied the Dutch on ArkeFly; same company but different services for different countries.

When flight TFL 119 which replaced OC 109 finally landed, there was sporadic applause for work well done and now an apology for the delay – my travel agent says I should still get a basic refund for not travelling Comfort Class, but I do not think charter flights are covered by the EU Passenger Rights charter that would have had some major compensation for delaying the flight for more than 2 hours.

Having learnt from the coach transfer experience that had us delivered last to our hotel, my taxi transfer was smooth and the only bit of detail not satisfied was I asked for a room as high as possible in a 7-floor hotel and ended up on the 3rd floor.

Today, I am not one shawl short of an Eskimo warding off the cold, but one g-string short of a beach bum – it is about to rain, but we have had temperatures in the 20s of Celsius already.

Rain tales of egrets

Talking of rain, when it did rain yesterday the sun was also shining – it reminded me of what we were told as kids – the rain and sun at the same time indicates a midwifery duty of nature as the lioness is having cubs. Ekùn ń bímo (Yoruba – The lion is having babies).

Another such tale was when we saw cattle egrets flying past we waved our back hands and sang out that believing we would get a white pigment stain on our finger nails (If only we knew that was a sign of some serious medical condition) – the egret in Yoruba legend is known for being white and clean no matter how dirty it gets. Lékeléke gbà mí léèke (Yoruba – Egrets please give me a mark).

Ah! The sun shines again – should I use factor-10 with UVA/UVB protection?

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