Every year, a magazine called Executive Travel organises a competition to find the Airline of the Year. Travellers from all over the world are invited to vote for the most efficient, the most punctual, the safest and the friendliest airline. The winner in 1985 was British 5 Airways. The competition asked travellers what they expected most from an airline, and the results were as follows:

Punctual departures and arrivals 35%

Attentive cabin staff 35%

Comfort 18%

Safety 9%

Good food and wine 3%


The competition also invited travellers to tell their most horrific stories of international travel. Replies included six hijacks, fifty-three cases of engine failure or troubles with landing, eleven lightning 15 strikes, twenty-three bomb scares, thirteen cases of food poisoning, eleven near misses and two accidents with airport trucks.

Bad flying experiences begin on the ground, naturally. One American airline managed to double-book an entire 747, but this is nothing compared to what happened on an internal flight on a certain 20 African airline. The flight had been overbooked three times. The local military solved the problem by insisting that all passengers should run round the plane twice, the fastest getting the seats. An overbooked flight that was going from Heathrow to America gave one traveller a bit of a shock. Dressed only in trousers, shirt and socks, he had been 25 allowed by the stewardess to leave the aircraft to speak to a friend. He returned a few minutes later to find the 747 closed up and about to start moving – with his shoes, wallet, passport and luggage inside. Banging frantically on the door got him back inside. A similar event was experienced by a businessman on a flight from Bangladesh. 30 Passengers were waiting for take-off when there was a sudden hysterical banging on the door. At first, the cabin crew paid no attention. The banging continued. When the door was finally opened, the pilot got in.

Traveller's Tales
Traveller’s Tales


One frequent flier lost a certain amount of confidence when the  cabin staff asked him to sit in the lavatory during take-off so that they could occupy the seats nearest the emergency exit on a flight between London and Manchester. For nervous fliers, a shocking journey was one between Gatwick and Montpellier, during which they had to watch pieces of the engine falling off. Another passenger was asked to  hold the aircraft door closed at take-off and landing.


Baggage is a rich source of horror stories. There was the unlucky businessman who left Chicago in minus-6 weather. He was going to an important meeting in Dallas, where the temperature was 32-plus. Unfortunately, his suitcase had gone to Los Angeles, where it spent the next two days. The customers he was trying to impress were more than a little surprised to see him going round in a thick suit, heavy overcoat and fur hat.

Traveller's Tales
Traveller’s Tales

Mark the best choice.

1. The competition mentioned in the text was organised by .

a) the Airline of the year b) Executive Travel c) British Airways d) travellers all over the world


2. Competition results showed that .

a) the majority thought comfort was most important b) two thirds were interested in good food and wine

c) less than ten per cent considered safety important d) none cited punctuality as an important point


3. The stories told by travellers included .

a) more hijacks than cases of engine failure

b) no problems with food served on the planes

c) only disasters which took place on the ground

d) a number of accidents with airport trucks


4. Line 18, ‘this’ refers to .

a) one American airline

b) double-booking the flight

c) an experience on the ground

d) management of an airline


5. On one occasion in Africa, the passengers had to run round the plane .

a) to get seats

b) because they were in trouble with the local military

c) to buy tickets for an internal flight

d) because they were late


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