Thursday, October 11, 2007

Island Life

Passengers' non-existent knowledge of geography - and specifically the geography over which they are travelling - is a regular source of astonishment to flight attendants. It seems that some people have never even encountered an atlas, never mind looked at a map, before taking a trip and have little or no grasp of how far they're going or how their destination and route relates to the rest of the planet.

One such lady was sitting looking out of the window on a flight from the US west coast to Hawaii. When the flight attendant was serving her a drink the lady asked "Are we going to see water the entire way to Hawaii?" "I sure hope so." replied the bemused flight attendant, wondering what this lady was thinking. The passenger just looked back out of the window and dreamily said "Oh my gosh, we're going to see water the entire way..."

While on the subject of trips to Hawaii and passengers' strange expectations, another passenger had a disagreement with a flight attendant about how long it would take to get to the islands. The seasoned cabin crew member explained that they're thousands of miles off the west coast of the US and would take hours to get to. The passenger wouldn't have it, insisting that the distance wasn't great, and the debate continued for a long while. Finally the truth emerged; the passenger had been looking at a map of the US on which, in order to fit everything on the page, the cartographer had placed Hawaii an inch or so from California.

1 comment:

Andy Coupland said...

The other side of the coin, of course, is the astonishing lack of knowledge of geography (and The World In General) on the part of some cabin crew. I was on my "milk run" back from Cairo to Heathrow on BA a year or two ago, and - a rare treat - was enjoying a rearward-facing window seat at the front of the Club cabin. The steward therefore had to come round into my "domain" to serve breakfast, and, looking out of the window, said "Aaah, there's Cyprus". I looked out the window and yes, the island was indeed vaguely similar in shape. But for it to have been that divided island we would have to have been at least in geosynchronous orbit, 20,000 miles up; what he was looking down at was an uninhabited islet about 5 miles by 2!

The only case that betters this in my immediate recollection is the Captain of a DC3 in which I was flying at very low level to Austria from the UK way back in '87. Making his way back to the toilet he stopped to look out of the window, and remarked what an impressive river the Rhine was. I agreed with him, but suggested that an opinion about the Mosel might have been both more appropriate and more reassuring, as that happened to be the river we were crossing at the time!

Happy Days......