Archive for January 5th, 2009

Book Review : Air Babylon

‘Flying!’ says Tom, as Susan and I slip past him. ‘A champagne lifestyle on lemonade money. Don’t you just love it?’

Air BabylonWe do love it, and if you want to know more about it, or just a have a good laugh, this 2005 book by Imogen Edwards-Jones & Anonymus (where Anonymus stands for a number of unnamed airline and airport staff interviewed by the author) takes you behind the scenes of the world of flying in a very funny, entertaining way.

The book is basically a lot of anecdotes compiled in a fictional day of an Airport Duty Manager of the imaginery Air Babylon Airlines, organized in 24 chapters that span each hour of the day from 5am – til 5am the next day. We witness the Airport operations from handling flight arrivals early in the morning that arrive with dead people and criminals on board as well as with a snake that broke loose during the flight, through check-in and boarding, including the always required and sought after quick cigarettes on the apron as well as the must-have coffee breaks to fight the hangover from the last day… Our hero arrives at the airport at 5am with his shitty car looking around the parking lot at the Jaguars, Audis and BMW’s of the baggage handlers… We get an insight to the world of check-in for example, why and what the check-in agents are typing into the computer while we just stand there in front of them for a few minutes in silence. Why and based on what does the duty manager make the call about late comers allowed on the plane or being rejected, or another important “lesson” for the reader’s future travels is why complaining and whining around about the desired seat can result in a very unpleasant travel experience…

Later on during the day we witness “typical” airport situations such a boyfriend saying goodbye to his girlfriend and taking pills, a police escorted terrorist checking-in, or random sex happening around in the airport toilettes. The book also reveals the tricks of how we can get the worst seat on a flight or where is the best place to have sex on board an airplane or why we usually don’t see the panty-line on a stewardess’ skirt… On the other hand, I believe some parts of the story include an exaggerated amount of alcohol drinking by the staff and crew – they probably do drink while on the job, but I personally believe it’s not as bad as described in the book by Edwards-Jones. But of course I haven’t been working as a flight attendant, so I shouldn’t make any statements about that…The nose of an Airplane as seen from the apron

Even though the book is mostly about the airport life, it also takes us on an extremely eventful flight to Dubai to join the team of sex-hungry, alcohol-blooded airline employees celebrating the assistant airport manager’s birthday on a quick get-away trip. During this flight we learn about many typical situations on board – from heavy turbulence to breakfast fixing by the “hosties” or why the cabin heating seems to work much better after dinner.

The book reveals a large number of airline secrets that are good and fun to know for everyday travellers, and does this in a very entertaining, humorous manner. We at the airlineworld blog have both read it and suggest it for airline-fans as well as to regular passengers. Only one warning: if you’re afraid of flying, you should read it in a nice chair on the porch or in your living room (especially the chapters after 9pm), rather than onboard a long transatlantic flight – even though it would also make such a flight much easier to survive and the time would fly much faster!

by balint01


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