Richard Ord: ‘Sharks - Free Food Here’



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SHORT of coming with a phial of blood which is released on impact with water – can aircraft lifejackets do any more to attract sharks?

 I mean, they’re bright yellow, inflate to more than twice their size, come with a blinking light and a whistle! Lifejacket? Shark bait jacket, more like.

 This was just one of the thoughts which occupied my mind as we embarked on our first full family holiday by air.

 We went by easyJet. A big, bright orange aircraft I noticed. Have they got a death wish or something?

 Perhaps they should go the whole hog and add “Sharks: Free Food Here” in florescent pink on the side of the plane with arrows pointing to the windows.

 Thanks to my wife’s fear of flying (to be fair it’s not really a fear of flying, more a fear of plummeting to the hard earth at great speed in a highly combustible tin tube, but I digress) we hadn’t flown for nigh on 10 years.

 Some things haven’t changed. While I put on a brave face for my wife (my brave face is remarkably like my normal, gormless day to day face, but with furrowed eyebrows*) I found myself slipping into old flying habits.

 Namely, trying to work out who the possible terrorist is and wondering why, in the event of an accident, you shouldn’t inflate your lifejacket before you get off the plane.

 I noticed they repeated the “don’t inflate your lifejacket in the plane” warning twice.

 There was a hint of world weariness in the voice that made me think that this is one request that has been repeatedly ignored by passengers when planes hit water. It’s gone the way of “women and children first”.

 Things have got so bad with that one that they don’t even bother to mention it in the pre-flight safety talk anymore.

 They might as well tell us it’s every man for themselves, but please don’t inflate the lifejacket.

 Just how big do they get? Surely we aren’t turned into Michelin men on inflation.

 Perhaps there’s some You’ve Been Framed footage of inflated passengers bouncing around in cabins they could show, to emphasise the danger, and lighten the mood.

 Personally, I believe they advise us not to inflate so that we don’t see the shark-attracting blood being sprayed.

 And what about those aircraft seat belts? I religiously fasten them in place and refuse to remove them until the light goes out with that reassuring ping.

 Until that ping, you are not safe to remove the belt, even when taxiing slowly to a halt at arrivals.

 Previously I’ve found myself shaking my head at those loons who remove their belts before the ping. Secretly, I’ve hoped the plane would have a minor collision, just to see them catapulted into the laps of the cabin crew.

 This time round I took a closer look at the belt. I’ve found more effective harnesses on the dodgems.

 Go on the rollercoasters at Alton Towers and you’re pinned to your seat in padded steel restraining bars that you can’t remove even if you wanted to ... and that’s for a ride on rails!

 For an aircraft careering at 30,000ft, we appear to have the aircraft industry’s version of a snake belt.

 I’m no expert, but it does seem a tad flimsy given the enormity of the forces involved in keeping 200 tonnes of metal in the air.

 Still, I only noticed this on our return, safe and sound.

 I don’t know, perhaps the easy release aircraft seatbelt isn’t designed for us. It looks like the sort of belt that could easily be released by something far less dexterous than the human hand. A shark fin perhaps.

* Here’s a game to lift the mood. It’s to do with faces. Ask your partner (it works best with loved ones) to show you their various faces.

 For example, “do your angry face”. Get them to do shocked, stupid, frightened, etc, and get them to do these faces quickly, as soon as you say the words.

 Once they’re on a roll, just throw in “do your passionate face”. I guarantee their face will have you in stitches. Well, at least my passionate face, seems to work on my wife.

 Even when we’re not playing the game, come to think about it.