Friday, May 19, 2006

Air Babylon

by Imogen Edwards-Jones and Anonymous

Although presented as a work of fiction, Air Babylon is actually a fictionalised aggregation of the many stories told to the author by a large cast of airline crew and airport ground staff, collectively credited as Anonymous. The intention is to reveal the dirty secrets of the airline industry, with the emphasis on dirty. Although details about how the airport and airlines operate as businesses are included, the focus is more on the sexual, narcotic and criminal escapades of the airline staff and their customers. You can certainly tell that it's been written by a Brit, as the author's tone has a thin veneer of disapproval but tries little to conceal it's glee in relating the sordid episodes of the story. You can just imagine a bunch of middle aged soccer mums with their noses buried in the book tut-tutting “Oh, it shouldn't be allowed!” while their faces are lit up with vicarious delight.

It's a fun, breezy book to read and I recommend it without reservation. Just don't expect any incredible revelations; almost everything that happens in the book is exactly what you always suspected goes on anyway. If there's a moral to the story it's to be nice to every staff member you deal with from the moment you enter the airport, as they have to deal with obnoxious members of the public all day long and they're not paid much for it. They also have plenty of ways to get back at you: piss off the check in staff and they'll seat you next to the fattest person on the plane, piss off the flight attendants and they'll stick laxatives in your meal.

And to answer the question that occurs to 90% of males immediately upon reading the blurb for this book, flight attendants are usually pretty well behaved while on duty (unless you count drinking and drug taking), unless you're a celebrity. Off duty is another story, but then, we already know about that don't we...

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