A 1,200-word sci-fi story written in response to the theme ‘dead air’.
I am writing to complain about my recent flight with Dead Air.
I chose to fly with you because you charge very reasonable fares. I was not put off by the negative reviews from relatives of your passengers, or the many sensationalist news articles condemning your business model as unethical – I personally find the profiteering of other airlines to be much more worrying (British Airways quoted me 4x the price you did!) Sadly, despite my open-mindedness I was very disappointed with the overall experience and with the customer service I received from Dead Air.
The problems began at check-in. The assistant’s communication skills left much to be desired; she merely grunted and pointed in order to request my passport and ticket. She was then infuriatingly slow on the computer. This was somewhat understandable as three of her fingers fell off during the typing process, but the supervisor was terribly slow in attending to the issue and there was simply no excuse for that. The masking tape he used to reattach the digits looked very flimsy and I would not be surprised if other customers had to contend with the same sluggish service I was subjected to.
The irritations did not end there. As recommended on your website, I had purchased a DeadAir™ Spinal Cord Separator to protect myself during the flight, at a cost of £19.99 – significantly more than I paid for the flight itself (but still cheaper than British Airways). I understand that this is the only weapon permitted on your flights and carries a 100% guarantee of killing the crew should there be any breaches in security. You can therefore imagine my annoyance when the check-in assistant grunted at a sign informing me that I had reached the free luggage allowance with clothes and there would be a £23.50 charge for each additional 500g packed. The DeadAir™ Spinal Cord Separator, as you well know, is 501g.
The supervisor was most unhelpful in responding to my complaint at this stage. After a circular argument lasting several minutes he informed me that your customers’ chances of survival are 32% without the DeadAir™ Spinal Cord Separator and 78% with, and asked if my life was worth £23.50. I was forced to abandon the weapon and proceed unarmed. If I was willing to pay British Airways prices, I would have flown with them.
The check-in assistant’s arm fell off when she waved me goodbye. It was not a clean break.
You may accuse me of being over-optimistic but I was still hoping for a pleasant flight once the check-in counter was happily behind me and the small chunk of rotting bicep muscle was removed from my Dolce and Gabbana handbag. I reminded myself that the ticket had been an absolute bargain and I hadn’t had to dip into the Portuguese Villa Fund to pay for it.
Once I boarded the plane I began to suspect my positivity was misplaced. I was pointed to my seat, with a grunt, by an air hostess. Not only was there an unpleasant smell of decomposition pervading the entire cabin, but I was seated beside a young woman with a squalling child hanging off the side of her chair. I presume it was not on its mother’s lap because there was not enough space to hold a pygmy field mouse, let alone a lumpy toddler. Not only was said toddler making a constant noise in the precise key of nails scraping down a chalkboard, but it had eaten its last meal rather messily and its face was covered in pieces of meat, attracting a fair bit of attention from the crew.
I was not happy with the seating arrangement but when I complained a cabin-crew-supervisor informed me there was an £18.45 surcharge for moving from one’s allocated seat. I was forced to remain beside the appetising aroma of the child.
Having somehow crammed myself into a seat with legroom barely sufficient for an immature bonsai tree, I diligently attempted to watch the pre-take-off security and emergency instructions. Unfortunately my comprehension was thwarted by the host’s hand dropping off when he pointed out the closest emergency exit. Once again, it was not a clean break and it was inexpertly patched up with masking take by a rather harassed-looking crew supervisor. I suspect the live:undead ratio of your staff is not correctly balanced. My praise of your ethical pricing was misplaced; it’s a disgrace that you clearly value profits above the welfare of your customers.
I was then treated to an eleven-minute-and-twelve-second sales pitch from said supervisor, in which we were offered a DeadAir™ Spinal Cord Separator for the vastly inflated sum of £29.99, having been informed that the monthly statistics had just been released and the survival rate for unarmed passengers was now 29%. These kind of high-pressure sales techniques are most crass and I suggest you retrain your staff in appropriate methods at your earliest convenience.
It was impossible to get any rest as the supervisors were constantly running around dealing with the crew’s attempts to eat the passengers. Every few minutes there were loud, intrusive announcements from the captain ordering his undead slaves back to their seats.
As I was unable to move more than an estimated seven millimetres in any direction, let alone enough to reach my in-flight magazine, I was very bored. I was glad when the meals were served, giving me something to do. Alas, I had to expel the first mouthful rather forcefully, staining my Gucci dress with flecks of something inedible and orange. I was informed by the supervisor that you use no seasoning in your meals as salt is poisonous to the crew and immediately sends them back to their graves. I feel you could have at least tried to spice things up with a herb or two rather than serving a carton of mushed cardboard. Perhaps it is an attempt to make the customers unappetising to the crew, in the manner of a Portobello mushroom stuffed with papier mache, but judging by the number of deaths in-flight it is not proving successful.
Things deteriorated further when, as the supervisors were busy attending to the re-animating passengers in Row F, the aromatic child beside me was attacked by three crew members. The young mother was unable to fight off the attack and I spent the remainder of the flight picking bits of sinew and flesh from my Prada jacket. Had my recently-departed neighbours not been too decimated to re-animate, I may not have made it to the end of the flight.
At least the severely restricted legroom came in handy when the supervisors were eaten; the crew were unable to reach me in the ensuing kerfuffle.
Now, I hope you will see that your service simply must improve. Using the undead as staff may cut costs but they must be properly trained in customer care. I will accept vouchers as compensation for my inconvenience and I expect to see significant improvements on my next flight with you, which will be on the sixteenth of Novmeber – you are, after all, still considerably cheaper than British Airways.
Mrs J Moremo