Monday, March 19, 2007

I’m Dying To Fly With You

Every now and then, I come across ‘real’ news that makes me jealous that I could not have thought up something so unimaginable. I guess that’s why they call it unimaginable though. Reuters posted a story this morning of a man who woke up in a first class airline seat next to a corpse. Apparently, a woman in economy passed away after take-off and they could not keep her body from shifting and falling out of her chair because of turbulence. The recently deceased and her distraught daughter were upgraded for the remainder of the flight, which of course is the absolute least that the airline could have done for the lady and the body of her mother. Reports that British Airways is considering changing its name to R.I.P. Airlines are inaccurate. This all brings new meaning to the term departure, doesn’t it? I know this is a story I should leave alone, but I can’t. Hey, I’ll be dead one day too and I invite people to make as many jokes at my expense as they want.

One can only imagine the sight of a corpse slipping out of its chair onto the floor repeatedly during this flight. That reminds me, the long awaited sequel to ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’ called ‘Bernie’s Final Flight’ should be released this summer. One passenger was quoted as saying that the body had to be propped up with pillows to keep it from moving. This incident does make me wonder why the flight from Delhi to London was not turned back around so that the body could be dealt with and treated with the proper respect that the deceased deserved.

I’ll admit that if it had been me waking up next to the departed, things might have gone a little differently. I try to be congenial wherever I am (although I can also be extremely dense) and am sure I would wake up, discover someone seated next to me and try to strike up a conversation with them. I’d probably start by making Delhi/Deli jokes like, “you know, I imagined that Delhi would have a much better collection of cold cuts than they did.” Since that’s not really funny, I would try another approach like, “I wouldn’t be caught dead in economy class.” Then realizing that I got no response, I would pay a little more attention to my row mate and notice that she appeared lifeless. In light of now realizing that she was deceased and I had just made a dead joke, I would begin trembling and do a spit take, thus sending my diet soda spraying across the back of my seat as well as the graying and balding head of the CEO in front of me. The CEO would turn around enraged and I would whisper in a very high pitch while pointing at the dead woman, “she’s dead. I’m sitting next to a corpse.” The CEO would scream, I would scream and then the flight attendants would hustle down the aisle to see what the commotion was about.

When the flight attendants arrive, they would apologize with something lame like, “sorry sir, she passed away last night and we didn’t want to wake you. Here are a few complimentary drink tickets.” While completely insufficient given the circumstance, I would accept the coupons since I don’t like confrontation and then ask, “Well, since she isn’t going to be hungry, may I have her meal, too?”

Given a choice, I would rather pass away on a boat instead of a flight. If I died at sea, they might just dump my body overboard during a tasteful sea burial. If some obscure maritime law prohibited the dumping of bodies in international waters, then I’m sure I could be shoved into the boiler room or propped next to the shuffleboard sticks. No matter how you look at it though, the situation would be awkward for everyone involved.

Can you imagine the decisions that the captain and attendant crew had to make? You have to figure that they would be criticized for whatever decision they made. If they turned the flight around, they would be blamed for causing delays at the airport. However, by flying on to their destination they created a very creepy situation and probably violated some health code that deals with transporting corpses on international commercial flights. If they had announced to the passengers what happened when the death was discovered it would freak everyone out and if they dragged the body up to first class, it would be disrespectful to the deceased as well as the passengers. If the crew had decided to quietly move the body to the front of the plane while the majority of passengers slept, they could be accused of being deceitful. It’s a no-win situation. I just hope they refunded the ticket price for the deceased’s daughter, the deceased and anyone else inconvenienced by the event.

While it may cause a black eye publicly for British Airways, at least they got a new marketing slogan out of the unfortunate situation. “British Airways – our service is heart stopping.”

15 comments:

Odat said...

Gives new meaning to sitting up straight in your seat...or having a stiff one!
Peace

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

last fall on our transatlantic cruise (see how i get the word cruise in wherever i can? cause I MISSED MY CRUISE!!) anyway we had one die and somebody said they stuck him in the freezer. think that's true michael? i wonder. we were a long way from land at the time.... smiles, bee

notfearingchange said...

what were the going to do place the deceased in the closet?

Abigail S said...

What a morbid post, Michael! Funny, though.

I would have freaked if I'd been on that plane. Creepy. THough, you're right- It gives some great material for a new Weekend At Bernie's!

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Great post. Where do you find these things? Anyway, I suppose it was a good a solution as any.

captain corky said...

Funny post Michael. I agree with you. Dump me over the side of the boat. You can even use me to as chum for sharks if you like.

Lizza said...

This was funny! I love the slogan you came up with. :-) I don't know what I'd do if I woke up next to a dead person on a plane. But I'm sure I wouldn't be as calm as you think you'll be.

mist1 said...

I f*cking wish that I could sit next to a dead person on a flight. I always get the overly chatty person. Also, I'd like the extra bag of pretzels.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

This is hilarious. I almost choked on my coffee.

I'm sure it is illegal to transport a dead person in the passenger section. When my mother died in Florida, where she lived, she was hauled in a coffin to NY to be buried next to my father (at a cost of many thousands of dollars, way more than a first class ticket would have been.)

I agree with Mist. I always get a seatmate who just won't shut up, does not take hints like closing my eyes or burying myself in a book, and likes pretzels, too.

Tammie Jean said...

Oh my... I am picturing them trying to quietly haul her up to first class...

Lee said...

I'm with Tammie Jean...how did they do that without waking the guy up? That would be super freaky. I hope he got upgraded to first class and didn't actually pay for it!

Violet said...

Wouldn't it be horrible if you woke up next to a corpse AND you'd been dribbling on her shoulder for the last half hour?

Natalie said...

I would have happily ben woken up and moved to whatever seat the daughter was in so that she would have the chance to sit with her dead mother. How nasty

it's the little things... said...

Hello
I'm visiting from Lizza. What a *insert word* circumstance. For the diseased, I'm sure she got a good chuckle as her soul drifted up, but the poor daughter!

Sunrunner said...

Funny!! But sad at the same time. I can't imagine the therapy the daughter's going to need. And I imagine that the pilot had to talk fast to get permission to transport a dead body internationally. There's enough red tape and trouble just trying to figure out logistics of transporting a body from one state to another! I'm visiting from Lizza's blog. Fun reading!