Fortunately, we managed to get booked onto today’s flight to Canberra, and have arrived safely in spite of the fact that I was a bit worried that I might be responsible for killing everyone on the plane. As with our flight to Melbourne, there was another example of seemingly anomalous messages from the airline stewards. We may have solved the one about me being told off for putting my seat belt on too early. Gill commented: “As far as I know all airlines ask you to leave your seat belt unfastened when refuelling. I have always assumed this is so that in the event of said fuel igniting everyone can get off the plane faster!”
I could ask the airline staff on my plane journey home in order to try and verify whether Gill’s hypothesis is correct, but I doubt that if I asked them they would give me a straight answer in case it was overheard by a nervous flyer. I’ve been on two planes since then, and each time I’ve put my seat belt on as soon as boarding, and no one has said anythin. I may be endangering my own life, and possibly the lives of the people in the seat next to me, but I think it’s worth it in order to see if anyone says anything to me about it, which obviously I’ll report in this blog. I’m sure my fellow passengers would understand and be completely fine if they knew that their lives may be being slightly endangered due to a blogger carrying out some important research. I would argue however that I am not impeding my exit time by keeping my seat belt on. If the fuel happened to ignite then it would take me less than a second to take off my seat belt, and I really don’t think that this amount of time would matter.
But this kind of hubris may end up killing me and others one day, and perhaps this Dollop will be read or played out in school assemblies to warn children about the importance of taking safety instructions seriously. Even bloggers carrying out important research aren’t exempt from the rules. Or maybe this blog is being played out over the aeroplane’s PA system, as a warning to stubborn flyers who think they know better and refuse to heed the warning to keep your seat belt unfastened. As my voice played out over the plane’s speakers, Some people would be sobbing in their seat, as they recall where they were the day they heard the news about my body being found, smouldering in my seat with my belt still attached. How was I to know I’d get pins and needles? A group of women are gossiping together: “I heard he was a right sexist, chauvinistic pig.” Another group of people would be reminiscing about their favourite David Eagle moments: “Oh, I used to love his stories about his kettle. And of course we all remember his catchphrases, don’t we. Collie flower? I wouldn’t imagine it would taste very nice. Haha. Classic moments from a true comedy genius.” If you’re not a David’s Daily Digital Dollop regular then the last few sentences might have been a bit confusing, but if you’re not prepared to put in the groundwork then you can’t expect the rewards.
Just before we reached the plane, there was a lady checking our boarding passes. As I got closer to her in the queue, I heard her ask someone, “Is there anything dangerous in your bag sir?” to which the man simply responded, “no.” And that was it, he was allowed to pass. Then the person behind him was asked, “do you have any spare batteries in your bag?” to which the lady answered no, and again was allowed to pass. The person behind her was asked whether he had anything dangerous in his bag. He didn’t give an answer, but just marched purposefully onto the plane. Rather than calling him back, she just trailed off halfway through her question, and said nothing about it. The next lady was asked whether she had any spare batteries, and again, the answer was no.
We were getting close to the front of the queue. I did have a pack of batteries in my bag. Should I say something? I didn’t want to have to forfeit them, as I needed them in order to record the Dollops and things for The Young’uns Podcast. But at the same time, I didn’t want to be responsible for killing people. If taking batteries onto a plane is dangerous, then why didn’t someone say something earlier. We’d already had to go through numerous checks before we got to this point, which was right at the steps of the plane. It seems a bit stupid to wait until the last moment before asking people about batteries. And what did she mean by spare batteries? She wasn’t asking people if they had any batteries; it was whether they had any spare batteries. If the batteries are housed in my digital recorder, then does that mean that they aren’t classed as spare, but if they are loose then they that falls under the spare bracket? The batteries were altogether in a pack. Does that still make them spare? Or are they only classed as spare if they’re unpackaged and just lying around the bag loose?
There were still lots of people waiting to board, and I didn’t want to hold everyone up by asking loads of questions. But surely the question is too open to interpretation for me to know how to answer it, without posing further questions to establish whether my batteries are deemed spare or not, and whether they are classified as dangerous. I’m also a bit confused by the seeming casualness and randomness of her questioning. Sometimes she’d ask someone if they had anything dangerous in their bag, other times she’d ask about spare batteries, and sometimes she wouldn’t ask any questions at all, but just let them go through unchallenged. And seemingly, if someone doesn’t want to answer her questions then they can just walk off, and she’ll let them go without contest. Plus, what does she mean by “dangerous?” We’re not the experts, we’re just boarding a plane in order to get from A to B. How are we meant to know what she means by dangerous? Surely if she’s asking these questions and it’s important, then there should be checks, rather than relying on people’s memory to remember what’s in their bag, their correct interpretation of what’s meant by dangerous, and also their honesty. You shouldn’t be able to just say yes or no and then be allowed on the plane, or just walk off an ignore the question completely. The system, if you can call it a system, was clearly random and ridiculous.
Should I feel obliged to report my batteries even if she doesn’t ask? I mentioned it to Sean, and he suggested that I don’t say anything about them, even if I’m asked. He didn’t seem to be too concerned that he might be an accomplice in his own death. There were three people to go before me and Sean in the queue. The first wasn’t asked anything, but was just allowed to go, even though they had a large bag with them, that could have been bulging to bursting with batteries. The lady next in the queue was asked the battery question. I’d noted that so far, only ladies had been asked about spare batteries. Was this just a coincidence? Or another crazy random element of their ridiculous system? The man in front of me was asked whether he had anything dangerous in his bag, to which he responded that he didn’t, and he was allowed to pass. Then it came to me and Sean, and we were waved through without question, even though we both had bags, and I had batteries. In fact, we were waved through so quickly that she’d already moved onto the next person in the queue, who was being asked if they had anything dangerous in their bag. I mean, I could hold up the queue, even though I’d been dismissed, and explain to the woman my confusing battery situation, but given that there were potentially hundreds of people already on the plane with batteries and an assortment of dangerous items, I felt as if there was little point, so we just boarded the plane, with my batteries, and Sean’s collection of knives.
Fortunately, despite the haphazard safety checks, the plane touched down in Canberra without issue, and we’re ready to play our final Australian festival before heading home.