We May Experience Some Turbulence
“Ladies and gentlemen, we're experiencing some turbulence. Please return to your seats and fasten your seatbelts."
I was flying back to England when this announcement came out over the tannoy (although 'being flown' is probably a more accurate description - the distinction is important).
Whilst being buffeted around the cabin, I began to question: how much training and experience did my pilot actually have; were they the best person for the job (i.e. getting us to England in one piece) and, most importantly, what could I do about it if I wasn't happy with the way the plane was being piloted?
Whilst the oxygen masks dropped around me, I decided enough was enough, stood and addressed my fellow passengers:
"Fellow passengers, too long have we sat passively whilst relying on trained professionals to fly our planes. Now is the time to create a 'new culture of people-powered aviation'; a culture where the voices of passengers will be heard, a culture without unaccountable power with the individual powerless to act.
"All I need are your voices to call for immediate action on standards; a significant number of you so that we can call in intervention at this plane which is failing.
"Who's with me?"
As I finished my passionate speech I felt an overwhelming sense of exhilaration, although that may have just been the lack of breathable air in the cabin.
There was silence (gently punctuated by the whimpering and prayers), after all we were still flying through this turbulence. Disheartened I sat and, whilst pulling down my oxygen mask, began to reflect.
Maybe the fact that the plane was experiencing turbulence wasn't down to the capabilities and competence of the captain and their crew; maybe they were doing the best job they could be doing under the circumstances; maybe I didn't have the right to question how the plane was flown just because I was a passenger!
Humbled, I opened my in-flight magazine and buried my face in the duty-free offerings. Seven hours later we landed safely at Heathrow.
Take from this spurious anecdote what you will. For me, it's enough to write and relieve some of the frustrations of ill-advised political policies.
This post was originally written for the Kent Teach Blog on 18th February 2014.