For years, I’ve worked in travel public relations and had the good fortune of being on several airline accounts – no I’m serious. It’s not the easiest kind of client. Lots of variables are out of our control and everyone loves to dog an airline the first sign of turbulence.
When you work with an airline, you start to appreciate the miracle of flight even more. Not everyone has Bezos or Branson’s expendable cash and resources to shoot into outer-space. So all of us regular people, buckle up and pack your patience.
Why pen this now, when we collectively are mad at the airlines for various cancellations, confusing updates, and so on?
Well, it’s not that they are above reproach. It’s just that consumers come at it from a one-sided perspective and not aware of all the things that go into running an airline: booking channels, connections, airport gate availability, air crew time limits, safety protocols & maintenance, and still providing good service while flying 30,000 feet in the air at several hundred miles per hour.
While they pull planes out of their hangers and captains get back in the cockpit from the pandemic, we are starting to see the return of travel. We’re also starting to see the return of bad behavior, more than ever before. While I get the stress, it’s still a place of business that everyone has paid to be on. We’re not really special unless you fly business or above. Cool your jets.
Take a step back and think of how we’ve been able to connect with the world through flight, see family, attend concerts, and events.
When lightening strikes...
Planes are very sturdy and can withstand being hit by lightening. Turbulence, while unnerving even for someone who’s flown a lot, it’s very common. I’ve been on a plane where the aircraft dropped suddenly, people screaming, things flying. One flight on a press trip to the Bahamas, the oxygen masks dropped as we had to make an emergency landing and pressurize the cabin. Once we shook off the jitters, we were back in the air and on our way. The crew’s collective demeanor in these situations is always comforting. They don’t flinch.
One of the smoothest aircrafts taking off and landing is the A380. Yes, it’s bizarre how a “airbus” taking off can be so quiet and barely register your landing aside from putting your tray table away.
Flight Attendants Don’t Just Serve Soft Drinks
Training isn’t just about serving drinks. It’s about safety. Although Singapore Airlines does manage to make it look pretty polished.
A flight to nowhere
Sometimes airlines will do this for a media event (so that it’s a non-revenue flight for those unable to take free travel) or PR stunts / events for example. In all of my career, one of the coolest moments during my time in NYC on the fully restored DC-3, a plane flown by American Airlines between 1936 and 1947! #avgeek moment for the books.
Read about it here in The New York Times by Christine Negroni, prolific airline writer.
After 9-11, everything changed. Things become much stricter. We would always want to do PR stunts or take journalists out on the tarmac. Nowadays, you’re lucky if you can even the tarmac for a new aircraft delivery. With the help of JFK’s Terminal 4 team, we did pull it off for Kenya Airways’ launch from JFK to Nairobi in 2018, which now feels like a lifetime ago.
For my client Singapore Airlines, we would host plane spotting events with #AVGeeks at LAX and others. All the attendees came strapped with their long-lenses and ready to talk aircrafts.
In the last year and a half, I’ve justified business class… cause Covid, obvi. It was worth every penny. Check out the QSuite on Qatar – a favorite airline that I take frequently between Beirut and Philly.
Well I thought I’d share some fun airline stories and quell some harsher feelings towards commercial air. Let’s all just hope the front of the plane lowers in price 🙂