That Time American Airlines Gave Me a Heart Attack

It has not been a good few months for American-based airlines.  I’m not going to sugarcoat it – the frustrations of subpar and declining service which has been the norm since 9/11 was just looking for a reason to explode.

And it has. Rather than just going away, people are now more willing to listen to others’ complaints about customer service and strong-arm tactics.  Airlines have their defenders, yes, but even those defenses often just serve to fuel anger.  Is there a valid reason for enforcing a no-one standing while the plane is in line for take-off rule?  One hundred percent yes.  But what happens if you just can’t hold it?  And what happens if you have to go, but the line to the hopelessly overextended bathroom area which services 75 other passengers stretches down the aisle and turbulence happens? I noticed, to my horror, upon disembarking a flight from Frankfurt to Johannesburg that one of the adult passengers had actually wet himself.  That should *never* happen.  But it does.  And many people are afraid it might end up being them.  Fear, dread, and total loss of control – combined with a multi-hour uncomfortable smoosh-fest with gross food – does not lend itself to happy and easygoing passengers.

If anything good comes of this, it will be that US-based carriers up their game and remember that customers are paying them for a service, they are not doing customers a favor by taking their money and abusing them.  And airlines are making the right noises about change; whether they follow through or not remains to be seen.

I think some of them are trying, though, and it was as a part of one of these attempts that American Airlines triggered my ulcer into acting up and gave me heart palpitations that nearly sent me to the emergency room for treatment.

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Through the Eyes of Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone isn’t the first holiday destination most people think of.  In fact, most people don’t think of Sierra Leone at all, unless someone is discussing child soldiers or Leonardo DiCaprio movies (may I mention here just how impressed I was with Leo’s Saffer accent in Blood Diamonds?  No joke, he nailed it about as well as someone from Not-South-Africa ever could).

There are some very good books coming out of West Africa, though – books that really capture life, culture, and a world that people outside of Africa often don’t get to see either in person or in print.  With one of my newest favorite authors, Aminatta Forna, Sierra Leone is firmly represented on that growing list.

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