Sanford & Son Airways

If you’re LUCKY, you get what you pay for. With some airlines, I guess you can expect even less.

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We flew easyJet from Munich to London Gatwick for the most recent trip of ours here. Right from the start and along the way, the pilot earned from us the nickname “Capt. Overshare” — he apologized for the delay in getting us onto the plane from the bus on the tarmac and blamed the tardiness on the fact that they apparently missed the runway on their first approach and had to go around for another go. That, and that there are so many computers in modern flight control systems that “it’s ridiculous” and that they sometimes have to be rebooted, just like your computer at home, and that took some extra time that morning. Thanks, Cap. Very reassuring.

Then he told us about 4 times how the weather in Munich and London was and promised to give us more updates later.

Then we landed, and that appeared to go smoothly. Exiting the plane, however, did not. All the passengers were getting ready to go, standing in the cramped aisleways, struggling to get their carry-on luggage out of the overhead compartments without ceding any personal space in the queue towards the front exit doors, and no one was moving forwards. For several minutes. Capt. Overshare dutifully informed us that there was a technical problem with the jetway. A couple minutes later, he informed us that it was due to some genius (on the easyJet ground crew? Working for LGW? He didn’t specify, oddly…) pulling the emergency stop level on the jetway controls. Restarting the jetway to maneuver it into position for our plane could only happen after an engineer got on the scene to get it going again. The ground crew informed the captain that locating and dispatching the appropriate engineer would be more timely than bringing a set of stairs over to exit out the aft doors of the plane (indeed, this is how about half of the passengers boarded the plane in Munich). So we waited. And waited. And waited a little more.

Then Capt. Overshare got back on the PA to tell us that this was quite silly and he had insisted on the rolling staircase to get us off his plane. We all began to deplane out the back. Sarah and I were almost out the doors when he got on again to inform the few remaining passengers that they could finally exit out the main doors into the once-again-operable jetway, if they preferred. Thanks.

Then the next Monday, after flying back from Berlin on GermanWings out of Schönefeld airport the previous day, I saw a news article via Twitter about three planes’ drinking water contaminated with kerosene. They were GermanWings planes. Leaving Berlin. From Schönefeld.

I wish I could say I only run into these sorts of shenanigans on low-cost carriers, but I fear that’s not the case.