As I trudge through Brussels Airport, yet again, and observe the lengthy queue of people awaiting their turn at the security check point, I realise that I have had another quiet flight. No threats, no disturbances, not so much as a spilt coffee. Almost all of my flights have been like this. Except one.
It was almost ten years ago now and I was flying back to the UK. I used to live there and had just spent a summer break in Malta visiting family and friends. I was browsing the magazines when I heard the airport announcer report on the fact that my flight is boarding. Malta International Airport is small with nine gates within walking distance of one another and of the shops. I put down whatever I was reading and headed off to my gate.
As I approached, a group of Italians walked by talking rather loudly. I knew that they were on my flight as had been ahead of me in the queue to check in. One of them was wearing a sarong which I can’t say suited him. I can only imagine what the burly security officers thought of him as he wafted through.
After a short bus ride in the clammy and humid heat that tends to envelope the island in the summer months, we boarded and the plane taxied off. The passengers were evenly split between Maltese and foreigners. Many locals tend to travel to the UK and many Brits tend to holiday in Malta too, so this is not unusual. I buried myself into my puzzle book, not paying too much attention to the people around me. We were barely airborne when I heard the seat-belt sign ring repeatedly. I looked up and noticed that the passenger, he of the mis-matched sarong, had his finger firmly pressed on the “Call Attendant” button and was causing this noise.
Ding! <pause> Ding! <pause> Ding!
We had not yet reached cruising altitude but one of the attendants unbuckled herself and came to see what he wanted. From what I gathered, he wanted a drink and she politely told him that he’ll have to wait a bit. Unsatisfied with this result, he let her sit down before ringing again and when she arrived again, he asked to speak to her supervisor.
The purser duly arrived and sternly advised that the drinks cart would be available when the captain switches the “seat-belt” sign off. I heard someone mumble in Maltese that the Italian had already had a few drinks which explained his behaviour somewhat.
Still unsatisfied with this reply, Mr Sarong let the crew sit down again and then stood up and announced that he needs to speak to the captain. He then turned and brisk-walked straight towards the cockpit.
Before we knew what was happening, the purser dashed past and rugby-tackled him to the ground. All of a sudden, the Maltese on the flight started shouting words of encouragement:
“Give him one!”
“Hit him again!”
“Bring him here, I’ll sort him out for you!”
Small wonder that the attempted bombing a few weeks ago was foiled by a passenger.