The floor beneath my feet shudders, groaning, and I grip the plastic arm rests a little tighter. I don’t know why I think flimsy arm rests will save me but we’re only three hours into the 11 hour flight from LAX to London Heathrow and I’m not going down without a fight, arm rests or not.
The plane suddenly drops again, my stomach throws itself into my throat and I try to focus on the flickering screen in front of me. I’ve stopped watching films because they all involve someone dying, even the Disney ones, and I refuse to watch anything that might have the remotest possibility of even implying a plane crash.
The man next to me catches my eye and smiles weakly, ‘I’m a nervous flier’ he explains while signalling the air hostess over. He orders three double Jacks and Coke and promptly pours the three shots of honey coloured liquid into one glass; down in one. He doesn’t drink the Coke. ‘I was going to visit my cousin in-‘ I don’t get to hear the end of this fascinating story as the engine makes a horrendous juddering sound and the entire aircraft takes a sharp intake of breath. The plane rolls like a boat in the waves, I try frantically to remember facts I know about turbulence. Has a plane ever crashed from turbulence? I bet this will be the first. Brilliant.
A middle-aged man attempts to brave the walk to the toilet and falls in the aisle. There’s an elderly woman mumbling prayers two rows behind me and somewhere a child is crying. I hope my mum doesn’t let them use my graduation photo in the papers if I die; my hair looks awful in that photo. Maybe I can text her and let her know the certain Facebook profile pictures that are acceptable. I sneak a look at the air hostess and her face is white.
I’ve shunned the movie options and have turned on the aircraft radio. ‘Bye Bye Bye’ by N*Sync suddenly seems terribly morbid and even ‘Hot in Here’ by Nelly is tempting fireball fate. I settle for Britney Spears, surely no one ever died listening to Britney Spears?
The butterflies in my stomach furiously churn and I suck in my breath as the plane begins to nosedive downwards. The lights flicker off, plunging us into darkness and you can hear the sound of frenzied shouting over the clanging of the luggage overhead. This is it. This is the end. I’m going to die listening to Britney Spears after all whilst holding the sweaty hand of a very drunk crying man. Oh God. If I live I will never get on a plane again, I promise to always be nice to everyone ever, I promise to buy my brother a really nice Christmas present and tell my mum I love her and -
The plane suddenly sweeps upwards and a burst of sunlight streams into the cabin illuminating my plane buddy’s face. He is sobbing silently. The juddering stops abruptly and someone bursts into hysterical applause; I join in, Britney still blasting in my ears. The rest of the journey goes without a hitch – completing in a smooth touchdown onto the beautiful, wonderful, grey tarmac of Heathrow Airport.
I do not fly or listen to Britney Spears for a whole year.