|Review : Strategies for the Wise Passenger|
Diana Fairechild spent 21 years as a flight attendant, and surely now knows 'every trick in the book'.
Since retiring from flight duties, she has become a prominent campaigner for improved cabin comfort for passengers, with an informative and content rich website.
This book - the first in a mooted ten volume series - is crammed full of the information and advice that only someone with such an extensive background in the industry could offer.
This is a slim volume but perhaps all the better for its brevity, because it encourages one to read it completely, from cover to cover.
It has five main chapters, ranging from potentially life saving (to do with in-air medical emergencies) to more tongue in cheek (streaking). It is full of insider information and very readable.
What the Book Contains
The paperback book measures 5"x7", and has 128 pages, of which 75 pages are core content. It was published in May 2003.
The five main chapters cover the following topics
Each of these chapters has a combination of anecdotes and hard hitting facts and excellent advice on how to optimize that particular aspect of your air travel experiences. For example, as a fairly tall person myself, I read with interest the 'Too Tall' chapter and came across a suggestion that impressed me with its originality.
In the section on Terrorism, she tells the incredible story about how in her training (in the mid 1960s) she was taught that 'Hijackers are afraid of women, so you don't need to let them in the cockpit. Block the door.' Amazing!
All Sorts of Insider Gossip
The author was a flight attendant for 21 years, and during that time, flew over ten million miles. This gives her impeccable credentials and experience for writing about what happens on a plane, and since ending her active flying career, she has obviously kept closely in touch with recent developments.
And so she casually offers us all manner of fascinating snippets of information. One that really amazed me was a suggestion that some of the 9/11 hijackers might have been flying as jump-seat guests inside the cockpits of planes to start with!
There is always a reason to turn the page and keep reading this fascinating book.
The book is an appealing combination of good sense and good humor. For example, in a chapter headed 'Streaking' Diana reminisces about the 'good old days' in the early 1970s when passengers occasionally chose to run from one end of the cabin to the other, naked - an action that back then brought cheers, laughter, and often a bottle of champagne from the flight crew, but which now would get the passenger arrested and charged with some grievous sin.
In addition to this, she then riffs on the streaking theme and gives us three other aviation contexts for streaking, including the delightful piece of trivia that, on a 767, when you flush one of the aft lavatories, the waste from the toilet streaks at 90 mph to a holding tank in the front of the plane. Bet you didn't know that - now try and work this factoid into polite conversation!
Size and Value
It is probably a compliment for me to say that I wish the book were longer. There is about 75 pages of core content in the 128 pages total in the book - the other third of the book is taken up with other material that, although still interesting, is more promotional in nature. The book comprises :
At a $12.95 price point, you're paying more than normal per word of information, compared to other travel books out there (although I do concede that the value inherent in this book is probably greater than in many other travel books that, while having more words, have less actual valuable content).
This pricing issue is also relevant in view of the fact that there are planned to be ten volumes in the total series. Although a single $12.95 price is no big deal, buying ten books at this price so as to get the complete work becomes appreciably more expensive. It is understood that there may be plans to offer set pricing at lower rates when more volumes have been released.
Plainly, Diana has lots of material to offer us. But I'd prefer to see this given to us in a fewer number of larger sized books.
This is a delightful book. It is an easy and pleasant read, with a well balanced mix of good sense, practical suggestions, and light humor.
At $12.95, the book is more expensive per page or per word than most. But, apart from this small quibble on cost, the book is definitely recommended. It can be purchased for a 20% discount through Amazon.com.
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written 4 July 2003, last update
21 Jul 2020