Friday, September 08, 2006

The Economist Part II: An article for your review

Instead of simply reviewing the article I was sent by Charlotte Smith of The Economist, I submit the piece to you, readers of The Client Side, for your review (that sounded so Rod Serling). I'd love you to share your thoughts so please leave some feedback in the comments section.

My review can be found at the end of this post. However, before that, here is a post I found about my post from JP Rangaswami of Confused of Calcutta. I felt compelled to leave him a comment on his blog that provides some background on the link I included yesterday.

It seems that the article I linked to is actually premium content on The Economist site. So, instead of continuing the tease, I have included the entire article this time (see below). If this is truly an experiment, then I am taking it to a level they should have anticipated. I hope it does not peeve them, cause I really would like the scoops to keep coming!

Here is the article I was sent in the email that is available to subscribers of The Economist:

"In-flight announcements are not entirely truthful. What might an honest one sound like?“

GOOD morning, ladies and gentlemen. We are delighted to welcome you aboard Veritas Airways, the airline that tells it like it is. Please ensure that your seat belt is fastened, your seat back is upright and your tray-table is stowed. At Veritas Airways, your safety is our first priority. Actually, that is not quite true: if it were, our seats would be rear-facing, like those in military aircraft, since they are safer in the event of an emergency landing. But then hardly anybody would buy our tickets and we would go bust.

The flight attendants are now pointing out the emergency exits. This is the part of the announcement that you might want to pay attention to. So stop your sudoku for a minute and listen: knowing in advance where the exits are makes a dramatic difference to your chances of survival if we have to evacuate the aircraft. Also, please keep your seat belt fastened when seated, even if the seat-belt light is not illuminated. This is to protect you from the risk of clear-air turbulence, a rare but extremely nasty form of disturbance that can cause severe injury. Imagine the heavy food trolleys jumping into the air and bashing into the overhead lockers, and you will have some idea of how nasty it can be. We don’t want to scare you. Still, keep that seat belt fastened all the same.

Your life-jacket can be found under your seat, but please do not remove it now. In fact, do not bother to look for it at all. In the event of a landing on water, an unprecedented miracle will have occurred, because in the history of aviation the number of wide-bodied aircraft that have made successful landings on water is zero. This aircraft is equipped with inflatable slides that detach to form life rafts, not that it makes any difference. Please remove high-heeled shoes before using the slides. We might as well add that space helmets and anti-gravity belts should also be removed, since even to mention the use of the slides as rafts is to enter the realm of science fiction.

Please switch off all mobile phones, since they can interfere with the aircraft’s navigation systems. At least, that’s what you’ve always been told. The real reason to switch them off is because they interfere with mobile networks on the ground, but somehow that doesn’t sound quite so good. On most flights a few mobile phones are left on by mistake, so if they were really dangerous we would not allow them on board at all, if you think about it. We will have to come clean about this next year, when we introduce in-flight calling across the Veritas fleet. At that point the prospect of taking a cut of the sky-high calling charges will miraculously cause our safety concerns about mobile phones to evaporate.

On channel 11 of our in-flight entertainment system you will find a video consisting of abstract imagery and a new-age soundtrack, with a voice-over explaining some exercises you can do to reduce the risk of deep-vein thrombosis. We are aware that this video is tedious, but it is not meant to be fun. It is meant to limit our liability in the event of lawsuits. Once we have reached cruising altitude you will be offered a light meal and a choice of beverages—a word that sounds so much better than just saying ‘drinks’, don’t you think? The purpose of these refreshments is partly to keep you in your seats where you cannot do yourselves or anyone else any harm. Please consume alcohol in moderate quantities so that you become mildly sedated but not rowdy. That said, we can always turn the cabin air-quality down a notch or two to help ensure that you are sufficiently drowsy.

After take-off, the most dangerous part of the flight, the captain will say a few words that will either be so quiet that you will not be able to hear them, or so loud that they could wake the dead. So please sit back, relax and enjoy the flight. We appreciate that you have a choice of airlines and we thank you for choosing Veritas, a member of an incomprehensible alliance of obscure foreign outfits, most of which you have never heard of. Cabin crew, please make sure we have remembered to close the doors. Sorry, I mean: ‘Doors to automatic and cross-check’. Thank you for flying Veritas.” "

My review:
I think it is funny and relevant. I am eager to fly the friendlier skies of Veritas one day. Does Veritas do the Pearson to Trudeau route yet? I loved the part about mobile phones - seems so true. In all it was a humorous and well written article.

I have been flying West Jet recently and it is really a much more human experience than the other guys. West Jet has made the added hassles of air travel lately a bit more bearable. West Jetters are just a friendlier and more jovial bunch.

The worst carrier I have ever flown is TWA. Which I believe stands for The Worst Airline (although the last time I flew TWA was over 6 years ago, so I have no clue if they pulled up their socks).

I am interested to know your thoughts on the article and the experiment in general?

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4 Comments:

At 4:01 AM, Anonymous Sulemaan Ahmed said...

Michael,

Great post and thanks for posting the entire article. Pretty foolish for it not to be accessible otherwise. As a former flight attendant with Air Canada, I can say with some authority the inflight announcement with Veritas is bang on and then some.

 
At 12:35 PM, Anonymous Ed Lee said...

classic stuff from the economist although it seems a little too "fight club" esque to me...i think what the economist has done is fantastic; inviting you to scoop them, not being anally retentive about their content - it seems as if they've really learnt from, as opposed to reported on, the social media survey.

i'm just mad that my favourite periodical didn't get in touch with me!

Ed

 
At 3:14 PM, Blogger Peeter Marvet said...

I think they missed one point that sounds important to me: "all electronic equipment must be turned off during take-off and landing" (I think at least some airlines add "and whenever the fasten-your-seatbelts light is turned on"). Possible interference is one thing, but as a captain I'd presumably like to make sure you can actually pay attention to my announcement in case something goes awfully wrong during most dangerous parts of flight and your chances to survive are increased by promptly hiding your head between your knees...

 
At 6:18 AM, Blogger Louis said...

The tone of the spoof is spot on. The informed readership of The Economist is probably ready to deal with painful truths armed with candour & humour. They ought to run with the concept - how about a spoof Bush news conference where he relents on climate change after receiving a message from God... They also ought to run with the idea of engaging with (in contrast to the Independent's asinine attacks on) the blogosphere.

 

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