I was only a few months old when I made my first journey on an aeroplane; freshly birthed, it was vital that I be introduced to my Thai family whilst I was at my whitest.
So off I went: London Heathrow to Bangkok Don Mueang with a 14-hour stopover in Riyadh courtesy of Saudi Airlines. I would be lying if I claimed to remember any of the flight, but I am assured it was rubbish. A claim I have no reason to doubt.
According to my Dad, he and my Mum were put in the smoking section of the plane – yes, they had smoking sections back then –and whilst they enjoyed the finest selection of Arabic films, and secondary smoke, I slept on the food tray.
It would be the last time I ever slept on flight.
Despite all the hours I have spent up in the air, slowly absorbing radiation from the sun and the sweat from the guy next to me, I am yet to find anything resembling an airline advert on an actual flight.
It is not from lack of trying either: since starting university in 2010 I have flown over 180,000 kilometres, and prior to that I would fly regularly to Hong Kong, Malaysia, and other places around Asia.
I’ll use my flight with Virgin Atlantic, as an example as I know you will have seen one of their adverts.
I flew with them from Hong Kong to London and the only thing that carried through from their adverts was the cabin crew’s red uniform, and that they were vaguely human.
Imagine my disappointment when the stewardesses did not seductively float through the airport, with cocky pilots closely behind high fiving random travellers, whilst Muse tried ever so hard to convince everyone it’s a good life.
It gets worse when you actually get on their vessel. Allegedly, Virgin’s seats were design by a child prodigy with a chair obsession. I respect that, but the seats were tiny, uncomfortable, with a TV screen lifted from a calculator, and the smallest collection of movies outside of North Korea. Seat boy needs to reassess his life work.
The inflight meal came in a Chinese take out style foil container that, in turn, came out of a cardboard box. Pretty bad even for airline food, but Virgin do not just do ‘pretty bad.’
The stewardess then handed me a Virgin Cola.
In disbelief I took it from her, I needed to feel the can just to convince myself I wasn’t hallucinating. They still produce this stuff? I looked around, desperately trying to think of what I was supposed to do with it, was I expected to clean the toilets?
Several hours passed, no more drinks were offered, and then I clocked on. They expected me to drink it.
I’ve picked on Virgin here, but the same applies to all airlines. If every other product has strict set of guidelines controlling their advertising, why don’t airlines?
If alcohol brands can’t equate their drinks with sexual attraction, then neither should airlines. At least after 8 pints the beers goggles have set in, the same can’t be said after 14 hours flying.