Earlier this week I had the distinct displeasure of flying from Copenhagen to Madrid with Iberia Airlines. While my trip ended up being fantastic, the flight itself was an unmitigated disaster. The flight crew was unfriendly, rude and all around difficult to engage with. Which, fair enough, is disappointing but not all that uncommon in this day and age. But, ultimately I ended up being in for two distinct surprises that left me all around shocked.
The first was when I reached my seat, went to sit down and had to squeeze into it. I’m 193cm (6’3″) and long-legged so it’s always a bit of a challenge. This time though? Utterly ridiculous. The space between each seat was so tight that even in the more spacious sections between the seats it was still tight enough to leave my normal sized water bottle self supported and securely stuck as shown in the photo below. I realize I’m a bit tall, but I’m not unreasonably tall…and this? Less than a water bottle’s worth of space from seat to seat? Pure tomfoolery. And for those of you who are tall and curious? Yes, the stewardess managed to ram my knee with the drink cart with significant force, shrug it off, and go back to business without even a passing apology.
But, the real icing on the cake came as we prepared for takeoff. In between the cabin crew’s safety talks music was playing over the cabin speakers. A nice touch and one that ultimately should be soothing and relaxing. So, knees getting bruised by the seat in front of me, I settled in and tried to enjoy the music. Then, something about the lyrics seemed off and caught my ear.
While every word wasn’t clear, I caught the general tune and some of the words. Die….ashes….fly….aeroplane…beautiful – as the song went on and the lyrics and chorus repeated I sat dumbfounded. Here we were, preparing to take off, in an airplane, a process which leaves many people absolutely terrified…and the airline is playing music about death, ashes, and airplanes? The sheer stupidity of it is astounding. Luckily, flying doesn’t bother me in the slightest, but it still left a nagging voice in the back of my head wondering if it wasn’t some sort of twisted move by a pilot with psychological issues. After all, the tragedy with the flight from Spain to Germany was only six months ago. Ultimately they were thoughts I quickly dismissed as ridiculous, but still – I can only imagine had the audio quality been clearer and more people been native English speakers that it really would have freaked some folks out.
I jotted down some lyrics and decided to look up the song when I got home. After all, I must just be hearing the lyrics wrong, right? Nope. As it turns out the verse that I was hearing was the following from “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” by Neutral Milk Hotel (full lyrics here):
And one day we will die
And our ashes will fly from the aeroplane over the sea
But for now we are young
Let us lay in the sun
And count every beautiful thing we can see
Love to be
In the arms of all I’m keeping here with me, me
Just what you want to be listening to when preparing for take off, right? I get that they’ve probably got some sort of in-flight playlist or radio and that it’s a lovely song, but even then…there’s some stuff that is just blatantly idiotic and devoid of common sense.
Obviously I made it to Madrid safe and sound, which I’m grateful for. But, it definitely says something that my flight back to Copenhagen on RyanAir was a more pleasurable experience with better service than my flight to Madrid with Iberia. Maybe it’s time for them to do a bit of a gut check and to get their act together?