Cells _and scissors_ on Planes

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					Cells (and scissors) on Planes
By Dr Graeme Codrington As a business strategy consultant, I spend a hang of a lot of time on airplanes, traveling locally and internationally at least twice per week. I am usually a calm and even-tempered individual, but I must confess that the red mist descends frequently at airports and on planes. I‟m really just tired of being treated like an idiot and/or being lied to. So, I wonder what would happen if airlines started telling the truth when making their mandatory pre-flight announcements? You could have a lot of fun with the full implications of possible answers to that question. But, for your edification, I have done some research just on the technology aspects of such potential truth-telling by airlines. “Good day, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome aboard RealDeal Airways, the airline that tells it like it is. Please ensure that your seat belt is fastened, your seat is in the upright position and your tray-table is stowed away. At RealDeal Airways, your safety is our first priority - before service, friendliness and your comfort. Actually, that is not quite true: if your safety did come first, our seats would face backwards, like those in military transport planes – they‟re much safer in the event of an emergency landing. But we don‟t think anyone would buy our tickets if we did that, and we would go bust - so you get to face the front. The flight attendants are now doing a great impersonation of doggy paddle swimming in an attempt to show you where your closest exit is. All planes have rear, mid and front emergency exits, and whilst our crew‟s attempts to point to them are less than useful, this is the part of the announcement that you actually might want to pay attention to. So listen up: knowing in advance where the exits are makes a dramatic difference to your chances of survival if we have to evacuate. Unless we evacuate over water. In that case, your life-jacket can be found under your seat. But don‟t bother to look for it. If we actually land on water, an unprecedented miracle will have occurred - in the history of aviation the number of wide-bodied passenger planes that have made successful landings on water is precisely: zero. So everything I say about life rafts, inflatable slides, removing high heels, life jackets and their cute whistles and flashing lights are a total waste of your time. Now that the doors of the plane are closed, please switch off all cellphones, since they can interfere with the aircraft's electronic systems. That‟s not true. In fact, since cellphones were invented, only one flight has ever even thought to have crashed due to cellphone interference. It was a 12-seater jetprop Crossair, flight LX 498, flying in the Alps on a bad weather day in January 2000. The final investigator‟s report cited pilot error and autopilot failure, not cellphone interference, no matter what some cooky webpages well tell you. In multiple tests by Boeing and Airbus, as well as independent researchers, no interference has ever been proven. Some of you will forget to switch your phones off anyway, so if interference actually could happen, we‟d have plane‟s crashing quite regularly and we wouldn‟t allow cellphones on flights at all, would we?

The real reason to switch off your phone is because they interfere with the mobile networks on the ground. But that doesn't sound like quite such a good reason. Actually, we‟ll have to start telling the truth about this next year anyway, when we introduce in-flight calling across our fleet. Emirates and Ryanair are already offering this service, allowing up to 14 callers at a time to use their mobile phones to a special base station embedded in the plane. Qantas, American Airlines, bmi, Air France and TAP are currently experimenting with the technologies – so we‟ll be doing the same pretty soon. We will be charging full international roaming rates on all these calls, regardless of where you are and who you‟re calling. And, we‟ll be taking a cut of those sky-high calling charges, and so our safety concerns about cellphones will magically evaporate as our revenues increase. At the back of our in-flight magazine, you will find some bad cartoons outlining exercises you can do to reduce the risk of DVT (deep-vein thrombosis). These are not for health, really, and I‟m not even sure they work. They‟re just meant to limit our liability in the event of lawsuits – so now you know, and we‟re covered. We appreciate that you have a choice of airlines equally as shocking as ours and we thank you for choosing RealDeal, a member of an unfathomable alliance of airlines, all of whom have as few opportunities to redeem your frequent flier miles as we offer. There are more frequent flier miles in the world than dollars, technically making it the world‟s largest currency. But there‟s no crisis, since most miles expire before anyone finds a way to actually use them. Finally, it looks like we‟ll be late. We will not apologise for this. You see, it‟s not really our fault: it‟s the baggage handlers, really, or the morons up in the ACT tower, or the customs officers, or, or… I‟m sure we could find a way to shift the blame to the taxi driver who brought the cabin crew to the airport this morning – in fact, to anyone except ourselves. If the pilot has tickets to a show tonight, he‟ll fly high and fast and make the time up. Otherwise, he won‟t. Whatever. We‟re going to be late. Now, cabin crew, please make sure we have remembered to close the doors. I mean: „Prepare for sterile call, all doors to automatic and cross-check‟ – whatever that means. I hope it sounded impressive. Thank you for flying RealDeal.”

Graeme is an international expert on talent and the future of work, and can be contacted at

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