Yesterday a United Airlines flight out of Sydney, Australia returned to the airport in mid-flight because of a bomb threat. The AP reports this morning that the problem may have been more that a bombshell was on board:
A note indicating the most attractive person on board may have triggered an aviation alert that forced a Los Angeles-bound flight to turn back to Sydney, Australia on Tuesday.
United Airlines Flight 840, carrying 246 passengers including a senior U.S. diplomat was turned around 90 minutes after takeoff Tuesday and returned to Sydney after a flight attendant found the letters “B O B” written on an air sickness bag in one of the Boeing 747’s toilets. Flight crews commonly use the letters as an abbreviation for “Bomb On Board,” and the captain decided to go back after learning of the find.
However, police who searched the plane found no bomb and flight attendants in Australia have said the letters are also commonly used for “Best On Board,” referring to the most attractive passenger.
Color me uninformed in the ways of socialization among flight attendants, but if they use one particular abbreviation for life-and-death emergencies, why would they also use it for sexual rankings while in flight? If indeed this turns out to be the cause — and one would think that UAL wouldn’t release a story this embarrassing unless they were pretty sure it was — then they should immediately implement an intelligence test for its flight attendants to weed out the mouthbreathers. Of course, such a after-hire test would certainly raise the ire of their labor union, and as it turns out, their representative knows all about sexual rankings:
“A BOB could mean both things . . . I certainly can understand it could be taken as bomb on board as well,” said Michael Mijatov, from the Flight Attendants Association.
He understands that it could be taken as “bomb on board” as well? I’m not sure what frightens me more: that the union considers the “bomb on board” explanation to be secondary, or that “best on board” apparently is so widespread that union spokespeople feel well-versed enough to comment on it. How often do the stews run around writing “B.O.B.” on puke bags, anyway? And are they all required to chug their beers if one of them greets the winning passenger with “Hi, B.O.B.?”
It’s great to see the airline professionals take security so seriously. It truly inspires me … to take the train whenever possible. Plenty of people in Sydney probably feel that way today, after finding out that the lockdown through which their city struggled yesterday was necessary only because flight crews lack the imagination to pick different nomenclature for their adolescent goldbricking.