A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my pre-flight ritual of tapping the fuselage of any plane that I board as a special tribute to my mother. Things were no different the last week of June when I took a trip out to Paris for six days, with stops in Nice and Monaco and took a total of four flights. On the way back to JFK from Roissy Charles De Gaulle on June 30th I arrived at the airport with nearly four hours to kill before my flight and walked all along the corridor of Terminal 2A-D, all the bakeries, duty-free, tax-free shops, post office etc. Little did I know that 150 of those people, perhaps I may have walked by some of them in that very terminal, would never make it to their destination.
The same day Yemenia Airlines Airbus A310 that originated in Paris crashed in the sea off the Comoros Islands, which are located off of the coast of Africa. This is same type of plane as the Air France flight that crashed in the Atlantic in late May. It was the ninth total loss of an A310 and eighth fatal accident for that plane since it entered service in 1983. Upon landing at JFK, without any knowledge of the Yemenia crash I sent a message out to twitter commenting on the rainy weather, shaky descent and hard landing that ended an otherwise wonderful trip.
I have never been scared of airplanes but the fact that Air France flight 447 is claimed to have simply broken up in midair has made me more conscious of turbulence and sudden drops in altitude. My first international trip in 2002 to Mexico City forever changed my life and since then I have gone to about 27 countries and 1 principality for leisure and business. This will not change in the foreseeable future. I plan to visit Toronto and Lima before 2009 is over. Plus there are a whole bunch of cities I want to re-visit such as Cairo, Rio de Janeiro, and mexico City in the foreseeable future. But most importantly, you cannot walk to Paris (my favorite city in the world) from New York City.
However, recent events have taught me never to take anything for granted when traveling. Neither the expertise of the pilots, the maintenance crew of the airline, the age of the aircraft, weather conditions in the arrival city...nothing. Nor will I ever look at the faces of those people who I pass by within airport terminals quite the same. There is good reason why passengers on airplanes are officially referred to as "souls"...