FRANQUE’S AIRTIQUETTE: MYTH BUSTERS

share on:

Myth: a traditional or legendary story, usually concerning some being or hero or event, with or without a determinable basis of fact or a natural explanation;

Superstition: a credulous belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge.

 

A lot of us grew up with one, the other, or a mix of both. It is easy to write them off as “old wives’ tales” now that we are grown up, but back in the day some of these myths and superstitions ruled our lives!

I remember Mama threatening to slap me if I whistled one more time in the evening, did I not know whistling at dusk was an invitation for snakes to visit us?

Then there was my cousin warning me never to look in a mirror at night because I would see a masquerade. There was also my Grandma screaming at me for daring to put a foot on a tuber of yam – the King of food; did I want my wife to be baren?

My particular favourite was the promise of an inverted belly button, if I rubbed my current protruding one with a Kobo coin (and later 10kobo) and bought something from a pregnant woman with it – her yet to be born child would trade belly buttons with me!

How dare I forget the one about pulling out an eyelash and whispering to it when I offended, if I wanted my offence forgotten. Whoever I had offended was supposed to develop partial amnesia and forget my transgression, but that one never worked with Mama because if she forgot once, the next time she flogged me, which was usually not too long after, she usually had a total recall and the past was remembered!

I have a female friend who will not let you walk over her outstretched legs because she believes her first child will come out looking like you.

While some of these may sound strange, far fetched and silly to some people, it was Gospel to others – still is.

As for me, considering that I fly at all hours, I have had to look into mirrors even in the wee hours of the morning and the only thing I see looking back at me is my face. The same goes for all the superstitious beliefs I heard, and had growing up.

These, however, have been replaced by others; not mine, but my passengers’; and just like those Myths and Superstitions of my childhood, a lot of these are nothing more than Old Wives’ Tales or, in their case, Weary Travellers’ Fancies.

 

#Cabin Crew will catch a Grenade for You.

It is the belief of the average traveller that Cabin Crew do no more than serve tea and coffee, smile and generally do their bidding. I have no problems with that as they usually do not know any better; The seasoned traveller knows the Crew are on board for their comfort, safety and security – not necessarily in that order, still I have no problems with it, as these passengers actually do appreciate the value of these functions; The regular traveller, and I use this term loosely, know about these functions and set out to interprete as they choose.

I will leave ‘Comfort’ and ‘Security’ for another day. My concern here is ‘Safety’.

On a flight from Lagos to Abuja, while securing the cabin before take off, I noticed how one of two girls seated at an emergency exit had her hand bag under the seat in front of her.

Bags, shawls, loose around these areas constitute trip hazards in the event of an emergency evacuation. The sad part is they sometimes will not impede the culprits, but some innocent person.

I leaned across and quietly asked her for her bag so that I could stow it properly for her. Come and see attitude o! I eventually collected and stowed the bag, and then on second thought decided to explain to her personally the danger her bag posed.

“I know,” she told me with a smile so big, it was at odds with the person I had just dealt with. “I just wanted to stress u a bit.” Shuo!

I just squatted there so that what I said would be between the pair of them and me, “Do you work ma’am?” I asked her.

“Yes, I do.” She giggled. “I am with…”

“Have you ever seen me at your office trying to stress you a bit?” I asked her with the oiliest smile I could manage. Then I got up and walked away, leaving her with an almost perfect, bright red, “O” for a mouth.

Like seriously?! In an emergency my team and I are expected to get everybody off that aircraft in ninety seconds; one minute and thirty seconds and she wants to “stress me a bit”, keep me on board longer than necessary sorting out tangled bag straps and human limbs?

I am sure I speak for most Crew when I say, I am trained to almost catch a grenade for you, but I would rather not do that.

***

#Billy Goat

There are a lot of things passengers do that I cannot begin to pretend to understand.

In my experience, Nigerians have never been a ‘listening’ lot. This seems to have become worse as the years have passed.

So many times I have seen people run from a scene without knowing why they ran – they saw a crowd running and followed suit; Or stood with people who listened to announcements without hearing what was said; Too many times I have started the safety demonstration brief and seen passengers choose that time to pull out newspapers or magazines to read, or start conversations with their neighbours – usually in a not-so-quiet voice.

The other day on a flight from Kano to Lagos with a transit stop in Abuja, I had announced that as part of transit procedures passengers were required to physically identify their cabin baggage and that any unidentified item(s) would be taken off the aircraft in Abuja. This was purely a security exercise just in case some dubious passenger had left a ‘parcel’ on board and disembarked, a fairly common practice all over the world.

When my colleague came to me to say there was an unclaimed bag on board, I made an announcement describing the bag and asked passengers to check that it was not theirs. I repeated the announcement four times, and made my crew walk through the cabin with the bag twice. When it returned unclaimed, I handed it off to the ground staff in Abuja and we continued on our way to Lagos.

On ground in Lagos I noticed a disturbance in the aisle, like a whirlwind, a man came up to me panting. “Someone just carried my bag off.” He said.

“Where did you leave the bag, sir?” I asked.

He looked at me, his exasperation begining to show. “Someone just carried by bag off,” he repeated.

“Sir, when was the last time you saw your bag?” There was no point rushing off in pursuit of a bag if he checked it in and it was in the hold.

“I put it in the locker in Kano and now I cannot find it.” Lightbulb moment. “Is it a brown leather bag with tires?” I asked.

“Yes, that one.” He said surprised, “Do you know who took it?” He asked me.

“Actually, I do sir. I took it. And I left it in Abuja. Sir, that bag is in Abuja.” I finished.

His confusion was profound as he asked in a not too quiet tone, “Why? Why would you leave my bag behind? I am going to make trouble for you!” His voice rising with each word, and he finished at almost a shout. His eyes narrowed when he realised I had not said a word, and instead had a smile on my face that touched the corners of my eyes.

Silence.

“Are you done sir?” I asked him. He was too stunned to nod or say a word. Just a noise in his throat that sounded like “huh?”

“Did you hear the announcements about a bag when we were on ground Abuja, sir?” I waited for his answer which came in the form of a hesitant nod. “You heard but did not identify and claim the bag?” I asked, enjoying myself thoroughly.

“I heard that a brown bag was announced, but my bag was in the locker nau, besides I was sleeping.”

“Well sir, that was your bag and since it did not get claimed, we dropped it off in Abuja.”

“No!” He snapped. It was my turn to do a “huh?” “Did your crew not see that I was sleeping? Since there was one unclaimed bag and one sleeping passenger, how could they not know it was my bag? This is just incompetence and outright wickedness.”

“If you will come with me sir,” I said signalling that we follow the last of the descending passengers. I handed him over to one of our ground personnel to deal with since he was too ten-years-old to realise his bag was his responsibility, and that when announcements are made it usually is for a reason other than disturbing and irritating passengers.

He eventually got the message and was assured his bag would get sent from Abuja on a later flight, which it did.

 ***

#You can beat the system

Of all the passenger antics I have seen, this one cracks me up the most. Recently on a Sokoto bound flight out of Lagos with a transit stop in Abuja, my colleagues took ring side seats at a play put up by a passenger. This one had a prologue which they were not aware of at the time, but it did not take away from the main act one bit.

On ground in Abuja, it was noticed that there was one passenger more on board than the expected transit figure.

An individual check of boarding passes revealed that a child on board had a pass valid only for the Lagos-Abuja leg and was still on board.

When the Purser asked who the child was travelling with, it ws discovered that the mother had a ticket through to Sokoto, but not the child. After much drama and protracted delay, a passenger on board paid the difference in the fare to validate the child’s ticket to Sokoto – and get the flight on it’s way as the woman had refused to disembark, and the airline could not offload a minor without the guardian.

It later came to light that this woman had earlier booked and paid for One Adult and One Infant (age 0-2years), but at check-in she was discovered to be with a Child of 5years. Same drama, and a passenger took pity and paid the difference – for a child going to Abuja!

For the life of me I still cannot decide if this was a deliberate attempt to beat the system, or just an agressive case of ‘fine bara’.

 ***

#Everything in the cabin is a souvenir

On one of my early flights as a Purser, I had served business class passengers their meals and was feeling really good with myself that I had completed in good time.

When I went back through the cabin to clear in, I noticed a passenger had not touched anything from her tray. I left her and carried on with other activities.

When the ‘fasten seatbelt’ signs came on for landing and I was securing the cabin, I noticed her table had been cleared. I made a mental note to thank my crew for teamwork and looking out for me, but when I did, they both looked at each other and looked back at me funny – neither of them had cleared in her tray. A quick count of the trays loaded confirmed what we had all started suspecting.

She had helped herself to the items on the tray, which was alright, and then she helped herself to the tray too!

This is not an isolated case. I have seen passengers come on board with just their cabin bags, and then leave the plane with extension seatbelts, trays, cutlery and crockery – some have even been known to try leaving with the Cabin Crew as well, or at least a phone number or BB pin!

While almost everything on board the aircraft is for ‘your pleasure’, it is usually an ‘eat in’ and not a ‘take away’ service.

***

As a child growing up, I had a lot of beliefs born of myths and superstitions; now I am grown, these have been replaced by others. The one thing I find though is that the beliefs of my childhood were scary; those of my grown passengers are just plain…

PS: Happy Birthday wishes to another one of our Family here on 360nobs, Lorlah AKA Miss Capable. Sha don’t let me ask you for my slice of cake, a little slice will do.

Franque

Franque

"Franque is in aviation, which by the way is not his job, just a lifestyle. If he ever kept a diary it would read like his articles will. Unfortunately he doesn't. Scratch that. He didn't.AIRtiquette is a walk in his shoes. Since regular isn't in his vocabulary, brace yourself for a bit of airwalking!" Follow @franque_521 on twitter.

30 comments

  1. I remember as a child wen I lost a tooth, my grandma would tell me that if a lizard sees d space the tooth won’t grow back…with the wisdom of age I believe it was an attempt 2 shut me up so peace n quiet will reign…and it worked! Lol
    Smh @ ur passengers
    *picks up a bag of pure water n stones franque* #warcontinues

  2. ….Bet the woman that helped herself to the tray!!! Y evils?!

    This was funny Franque.. Growing up, my mum did not encourage such myths sha… But trust us kids, we learnt from other kids, and ODed on the myths. Smh… And my grand-aunt always threatened me with that whistling one. 🙁

    Have an awesome weekend Franque… 😀

  3. Lmao! Some ov those early myths tho. D belly button one got my laffin non-stop. As for d antics ov passengers, smh @ dt lady wif d child… Generally a fun read, thanx Franque.

  4. Lmao…iRemember those superstitions, crazy/fun stuff!
    Rotfl @ #Everything in the cabin is a souvenir, iHave a red nd blue blanket wiv Nig Airways logo nd a tag dat says”this is a flyin blanket, pls ensure that it does not walk”in ma house.. Guess it flew its way 2 ma house sha!!
    Enjoyed readin as always.. Big ups 2 u franque!!

    Thank U 4 d Birthday Shoutout *Hugs* “battin lashes @ aka miss capable.. U knw dis.. Lmao! Abt ur cake, wld fink abt it!!!

  5. Re:some have even been known to try leaving with the Cabin Crew as well, or at least a phone number or BB pin

    Now that made me laugh so hard!
    To think Nigerians never learn or listen! *sigh*

    BTW, i must point out that sometimes the Cabin Crew also make their announcements in ‘bed room’ voice, focusing more on the ‘confused’ halfcaste (British/american/Naija) accent as opposed to getting heard!

    Good one, thumbs up!

  6. Bwahahahahahahahaha! Oh, that isn’t lady-like. Sorry, let me rephrase *covers her mouth* teeheeheehee.

    Dude, that’s hilarious. Those superstitions had me laughing my head off. I didn’t know about the belly button one but some of my favourites are:
    – Make sure you throw your tooth on top of the roof or else it won’t grow back. Even if it makes it to the roof, it still won’t grow if it gets swallowed by a lizard.
    – Don’t sweep at night because you’ll spiritually sweep all your riches away
    – If you touch a person with a broom while sweeping, spit on it and have the person jump over the broom so they are not cursed.
    – Swallowing agbalumo (udala) seeds will cause a tree to grow in your stomach (boy did I believe that one)

    Anyway, good read as usual dear. I enjoy hearing about how unruly “we” can be in planes but seriously though, taking the whole damn tray??? Na wa oh. I don’t want anyone to drive you up the wall, but I sure hope you keep encountering these experiences so you can entertain us.

    Thumbs up love!

  7. Hey Fam, how r we today? iKno one Lola who brought the rains in from Abuja, it’s her birthday today n iWish her peace, love n ‘d Sparkle.
    @ Mateelly: There’s a reason iDo AIRtiquettes, it’s becos y’all love it so;
    @ Kay: if tossin pure water @ me is ur idea of “wisdom of age”, maybe u shoulda remined a 7yr old o;
    @ Nena: lemme set the recoed str8. She’s not the only one who’s taken a tray on my watch. One of them was even an ‘oyibo man’ in business class;
    @ Miz_P: Thanx. Glad u liked it. Quick Q tho: am iStill in d doghouse?
    @ Lorlah: as far as the passengers r concerned, it is their “entitlement”.
    @ PET Projects: Ouch! Just yday iHad an assessment flyt n my manager accused me of the ‘bedroom voice’ type PA bar the confused accents sha.
    @ Everyone_else: Next week we get 2 posts – midweek n Friday. Something for ME to look forward to.

  8. to us,whistling at night called ghosts out and crossing a pregnant woman meant she was going to give birth to a child with half head.mcheeew those days were somethin.LMao at d lady who took d tray can just imagine her looking left n right n stuffing d tray in her bag.(sighing in pleasure)i love fridays n not cos its weekend.

  9. Hey franque, when last did i tell u i love u? This is the funniest airtiqquette i have read. I jst relocated to d states n actually woke up 1 am to catch franque’s friday dose.
    Ur romance with words spins my head….

  10. Really good read Franque!!! I always smile when I see you have an article up.

    P.S Did you ever hear the myth that if you talk while putting “bitterleaf” into a pot of onugbu soup, no matter how thoroughly washed the bitterleaf was, the soup will come out bitter? Ol’boy! I still observe it till this day

  11. Hehehehe I remember the story about if you break palm kernel on the floor,your mother will die. But that was to stop children from cracking up the earthen/mud floor of the olden days.
    Passengers and take aways,the lady seated next to me on a certain international flight stowed away stockings,blankets and the likes.
    This is an interesting piece,Franque. I thank God it’s Friday!

  12. Dis is so funny,I’ve b laffing like mad,I’ve heard dat if u step on salt,u’ll quarrel wit somebody,pax r a funny lot,sometimes dey do mak d job enjoyable

  13. @ M.E.: How could iHav forgotten the broom?!
    @ Kay: young @ heart, simple in d head, it makes no difference to me in ur case. Wednesday is anoda day;
    @ Thanx for sharin urs with us. And the trays aren’t even so sexy o;
    @ t: if it was my bday today, after those words iWon’t be able to bring myself to ask for a present;
    @ Curious Observer: Never heard that one. That explains why Mama never taught me to make ofe onugbu. iTalk dat much;
    @ Engy: yes o. Why hollow out or crack d mud floors when u won’t join in the ‘refloorin’ of the house?
    @ qhaycee: we r who/how we are o.. How did ur exams go?

  14. (H)O (H)(E)M G!!!! (Yes I’m razz like that) People are crazily ridiculous! Shuo! See trouble sha o *shakes head & rolls into the Atlantic Ocean* As for those superstitions, some of them stuck as I grew. I still stop myself whenever I’m whistling at nite & I’m still scared of looking at the mirror at nite X_X 🙁

  15. (H)O (H)(E)M G!!!! (Yes I’m razz like that) People are crazily ridiculous! Shuo! See trouble sha o *shakes head & rolls into the Atlantic Ocean* As for those superstitions, some of the stuck as I grew. I still catch myself whenever I’m whistling at nite & I’m still scared of looking at the mirror at nite X_X 🙁

  16. Why wouldn’t I fall in love with you? You are way too articulate for words…That was definitely an interesting read. I didnt initially know where you were going with it but now, I am still clutching at my mid-section with one hand and my mouth with the other. All those passenger myths are soooooo true….still lmao

  17. Lmao…bringing back xperiences of old. I still believe dat if U̶̲̥̅̊r nose or palm itches, its a sign of money coming in2 U̶̲̥̅̊r hands…..(ℓ☺ℓ, feelin ick-y). Anyway Franque, i think U̶̲̥̅̊ should start naija version of candid camera…..what’s U̶̲̥̅̊r take??

  18. Lol…u sure had an interesting time growing…..the uncanny attitude of your passengers in one word ‘HILARIOUS’..but hey u gotta be patient Bruv… Nice..an enjoyable read!

  19. well considering i take toiletries from hotel ………. why cnt i take from the airplanes ….. cant wait to ride on one of your flights soon

  20. D myth i will neva 4get: We were told as semi kids dat we shudnt look in the mirror n say candyman 5 times because he will come in d nite n kill u, we always said candyman 4 times den we wud run away, *smh* at ourselves.
    This post was real good, i had good laffs this morning.

  21. Lol, that was a hilarious. I’m actually looking forward to taking a flight in Nigeria when i get home, the last time i did, i was a child and can’t remember so it will be interesting to see all these things i often hear about.

  22. Lol, that was hilarious. I’m actually looking forward to taking a flight in Nigeria when i get home, the last time i did, i was a child and can’t remember so it will be interesting to see all these things i often hear about.

  23. Like I told u ll’d stop by again…lool
    Superstitions aye…. Soooo many
    Dnt pack up broken mirror till 7hrs later sweepn at nite etc

    I wonder how u cope wv des passengers sumtyms lool

Leave a Reply