It used to be just a question of chance. You could calculate the likelihood of the tail falling off or an encounter with clear air turbulence or a lightening strike or seagull going into an engine. It was all in the numbers and the numbers were good. Now there’s the random factor of a fellow passenger, someone who looks completely normal, suddenly jumping up, screaming ‘death to the infidels’ and blowing up their shoe. Or perhaps you’re idly looking out the window, dozing, when you notice a flash on the ground that isn’t a reflection off a car windscreen but the telltale back blast of a shoulder mounted missile that’s headed straight at the soft belly of the 737…
We swirl the ice in our plastic cup of Scotch and Coke and look at the people sitting near us.
The man in the next seat, the aging businessman with halitosis and a battered brown briefcase that’s balanced on his knees, is flipping through documents from the ATO. He holds the sheaf of papers with one hand while adding up his tax bill with the other. $50,000 owing. His wife grimly reads an airport novel behind gold jewellery and long dirty blonde hair. When she takes off her sunglasses we see that her eyes look sunken and her lips are slightly extended. A flight attendant walks past with a Crown Lager. It’s another beer for the man two rows in front, the guy with the head of bountiful white hair, a rubbery face and who’s wearing cheap wrap around Cancer Council sunglasses. He takes the beer, maybe his tenth in three hours, and starts talking to himself while gesturing out the window. Inside his head he’s winning the debate.
Perth is still another two hours away.