Mink Machine

Review: Air Babylon

Air Babylon

This book by Imogen Edwards-Jones tells the tale of a character who works on a big airline. It actually feels like a collection of hilarious anecdotes tied together by something vaguely resembling a storyline.

For instance, we get ironic puns about how to get Semtex bombs aboard, details about the irritating boy band who sneaks away with the hosties in first class and how rude people get tagged at check-in so they later can be served food spiced with laxative. For the extra juicy bits, we learn how to effectively deal with couples getting it on in the tiny toilet space while a large queue is waiting outside as well as what really happens when the tired crew get together in a small space with a lot of tax-free alcohol. In other words, no big surprises here.

Furthermore, it goes into great length to explain why luggage always get lost at Heathrow, what the hostesses really feel about the ridiculous rules being enforced after 9/11 and how “far queue” is the most polite way of saying “fuck you” to people who may or may not deserve it. The stories goes on about dropping wheels before landing, hiding people who die during the flight and proper handling of snakes on a plane (not the movie).

The tone is often aggressive against all those who fail any of the thousand informal rules set by the crew, frustrated as they are by the stressful and ungrateful job.

“There’s a saying at the airport that passengers pack their brains in their suitcases before they arrive; they are always disoriented, distracted and seemingly incapable of looking after themselves.”

I see her point and I sometimes resemble a vegetable at airports myself, but the easy explanation is of course that people are tired from long journeys, disoriented by jumping time zones, low on nutrients due to irregular dining hours and so on.

It’s witty, cynical and often very entertaining. Most likely popular with airline employees. I remember reading this book on a flight from Singapore when the steward approached me with a big grin and said “Great book! You’ll love it!”.

1 comment

  • avatar
    Jonas
    21 Nov, 2009

    Another reason for being disoriented at airports are the fact that the architecure doesn’t give you much of hints for where to go or where you are. You can have the same feeling in big shopping malls – all airports seems to be built on the concept of one great hall and then a lot of equal looking corridors to other similar big halls.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Featured stories

Conquering Machu Picchu

Conquering Machu Picchu

"A life-long dream came true this morning, as I stood upon the mountain looking down at Machu Picchu. I felt like some strange mix between Indiana Jones and a small boy, gazing down upon the final treasure of the Incas."
I still love you, New York

I still love you, New York

"Now I’m back and our roles are somewhat reversed. Like River Song and the Doctor, we meet again under different circumstances."
Getting lost in Yazd

Getting lost in Yazd

"Navigating on random while surrounded by staring old men, pointing their crooked fingers at the Godzilla Viking in surprise. It feels like I’m walking around in Mos Eisley."
Sessions in Seville

Sessions in Seville

"I end my journey in front of the tomb of Columbus, located inside the world’s largest Gothic cathedral."
Vineyards of southern France

Vineyards of southern France

"Not far from Sauternes is the village of Saint-Émilion, also a famous wine region but what got me hooked was their impressive limestone caves."
Historic locations in Gothenburg

Historic locations in Gothenburg

"Hundreds of houses were quickly build, but unfortunately all of it was burned to the ground in 1611 by Danish forces."

Instagram

Seville
Venice
Fever Ray
Rome
Basel
Kuala Lumpur