The skies are friendly; the passengers are not

Safest ride around

Mon, 2009/06/01 - 22:41 by aargh

One can hardly describe TravelHell as hot-off-the-presses journalism. We don't crank out content inspired by some long-sought muse who shows up just moments before deadline. We're closer to the Hone An Idea Over The Course Of Several Days crowd.

Sorry to disappoint. But I thought I'd start with that to explain why you don't see any of the usual type of material here today. I had prepared a snarky little run on why I ignore the pre-flight safety speeches. Yesterday it was sitting in draft mode awaiting tonight's release. Today I awoke to hear the news that Air France flight 447 from Rio to Paris had disappeared and there was a slim chance anyone aboard had survived.

Bloody hell.

For one, this is a tragedy. I don't use that word often, and when I do it's usually a sarcastic jab, but this is terrible news indeed. I hope the friends and families of those aboard find peace, and soon.

Two, this story understandably received quite a bit of press coverage. This was just about the only topic on tonight's TF1 newscast. What caught me, however, wasn't just the amount of time spent on the story but that most of the time involved interviews with various aviation and weather experts. And they all had the same quizzical look the rest of us did.

Because airplane accidents are so rare.

Rare and improbable.

Which is why we can honestly look at every such incident mouth agape and mutter, "well, that's not supposed to happen."

Barring my cynical remarks on air travel statistics, it truly is a safe form of travel. Quite a bit of science goes into the metal birds, and the people in the cockpit have their act together. The greatest opportunities for danger occur at takeoff and landing, yes, but given all that's involved pushing those beasts into the air and bringing them back down in one piece it truly is a wonder so many of them go off without a hitch.

Which, believe it or not, brings me back to what would have been today's post.

The whole reason I can make jokes about the pre-flight safety routines is that they're so rarely needed. I step into the tin cigar, that wonder of travel, knowing that more than likely I'll step off some hours later and my only real complaint will be that my fellow passengers were jerks. (Sadly, no amount of Boeing or Airbus engineering will change that.)

I'll share the original post at a later date.