The possibility has just come up that I might be going to Odessa in about 3 weeks (from Kiev). I have two options for getting there.

Option one – fly. It’s just over an hour away.

Pros: shorter travel time, more convenient arrival time on my way home, can prove to myself how much I win at overcoming my fear.

Cons: dodgy internal Ukrainian flights – my choices are Donbassaero, who in 2010 had a flight cancelled after the entire crew was found to be inebriated. Or Dniproavia who fly Embraer something-or-other planes. They’re tiny and thin and weird looking and I’m scared of them :(, or AeroSvit who my colleague described as ‘fun because they’re all old and bouncy.’ I don’t want to get a teeny plane. I don’t trust them.

Option two – night train. Get the train at around 10pm on Friday night, arrive around 7am Saturday morning.

Pros: It’s not a plane!

Cons: Longer travel time, I never sleep that well on sleeper trains, I’ll feel like a failure for not flying.

 

So, just a few questions.

On the course you (Keith) said that any company that can fly within Europe has to meet very high safety standards (something about the ICAO) and is therefore pretty trustworthy.  Do these companies have to meet the same standards for their domestic flights as their international ones? If a company only flies to former Soviet republics, is it really international? Are any of my assumptions about small planes true? (They’re not as safe, they’re more affected by turbulence, the pilots are less experienced, they’re not as sturdy and more affected by stuff that isn’t an issue on big planes.)

And the big question. What am I going to do?!?!??!!

I was so okay on the international flights. I’m so not okay with this :(

Look at it! It's small, thin, weird and the engines are in the wrong place!

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They will not disintegrate hitting a bird!  They are designed to cope with these eventualities.

Keith

Sarah said:

How are they nicer? I'm not disbelieving you or anything, I'm just curious. I can't quite shake the feeling that they'd hit a pigeon and disintegrate (okay, that might be a slight exageration, but I don't trust them.)

I do have happy memories of long distance train journeys around Russia. Most of them involve vodka and dried fish (they're hazy memories.) But it's difficult to sleep at first, except for the time a Canadian woman gave me a weird green pill which knocked me out for almost 24 hours.


but how can an obstruction just pop up? We plan for everything, and deal with things. it's just not like being on the roads ...there is no comparison.

Keith
Sarah said:

Long stream of consciousness coming up!

I have done a go around because of a sheep, or was it a cow I can't remember... on the runway at Stornaway.

Please send me your answers to your questions and I'll comment on them.

Keith

ps

Planes 2 and 3 will just go ahead and land...why  should they have to do anything different??

Okay... well I was thinking of a busy airport where the planes only land a couple of minutes apart from each other. So it could be that there isn't time for anyone to go out and move the donkey before plane 2 gets to the runway (I hear donkeys can be stubborn.) So it would also have to go around.

Unless there was another runway it could land on? But it wouldn't have time to line up with a different runway, would it?

So plane 2 would see plane 1 climbing away and think 'hmmm... wonder why he's doing that.' But surely plane 2 couldn't just be left wondering (nothing's left up to chance, right?) Someone would tell him why plane 1 was going around. So I think... ATC would tell him, because if pilots could hear all the communication between ATC and the planes in front and behind them it would be a lot of noise and they might miss something ATC said to them, or confuse their ears somehow.

But maybe they can hear it all so that as soon as plane 1 announced the donkey on the runway, they'd know about it immediately.

<I know nothing about radio communication!>

Actually, wouldn't people on the ground see the donkey before the pilot in plane 1? And let planes 1, 2 and 3 know about it?

Well somehow they'd know about it in plane 2 but maybe they'd still approach as if they were going to land because the donkey might have run away and they might be able to land.

No, there's too many 'maybes' there. I think they'd follow plane 1 and climb away and wait until someone on the ground confirmed that the donkey was gone.

Am I close?

That's pretty funny that you actually had to do this at one point. Did you tell the passengers the reason for the go around? 'Sorry folks, cow on the runway.' Hehehe...

But for me this is one of the things that makes flying seem more unsafe than other forms of transport - the fact that planes can't stop. Any other type of transport, if an obstruction pops up they stop and wait. Planes can't do that. Kind of like driving a car with no brakes.


Captain Keith said:

They will not disintegrate hitting a bird!  They are designed to cope with these eventualities.

Keith

Yes, I know. It was a stupid exaggeration, sorry. I guess I was just trying  to... no, I have no idea. I can't find words for what goes through my mind when I think of flying on a much smaller plane than I'm used to. It's certainly nothing rational and it's deeply frustrating.


Captain Keith said:


but how can an obstruction just pop up? We plan for everything, and deal with things. it's just not like being on the roads ...there is no comparison.

Keith

But you said it happened to you!!! So evidently it can happen! My question was just, if there'd been another plane coming into land behind you at Stornoway, would you have informed them of what you were doing and why when you did your go around?

You never have to say sorry about anything you feel...as long as I can answer you honestly...deal or no deal?

Keith

Deal

Sarah I understand 100% what you mean about the planes (as Keith will testify - only this week I felt the need to message him to check if my Washington plane was bigger than my NYC plane and it is capable of getting me that far!).  I worry about the size of the plane and also the airline.


I am suffering an extra flight from Manchester to London so that I can go on a British Airways plane because I trust them more (plus I can pretend Keith is flying). 

Two weeks ago I went to Hamburg on a canadair crj-900 and nearly passed out. Firstly because in my mind it was too small to get me there and secondly it didn't say Lufthansa on it who I trust - it said Eurowings. To me that meant that it was like the plane equivalent of Tesco Value range!!

 

You know what - it was fine (although the glass of Italian Champagne at 8.30am that the kind stewardess gave me helped!!). If you'd have blindfolded me and put me on it I'd have been non the wiser. BUT at least now I'll be okay next time I have to use one of these.

 

We've all got our things that spook us - you're no worse than anyone else. x

Thanks, Jo.

That's really good to know others feel the same.

I think I'd have had the same reaction to your Hamburg flight. I've never heard of Eurowings. What did you do to get through it? (Apart from the champagne!)

I have spent so many years being terrified despite flying til I was probably 24-25 with no problems then all of a sudden I hated it. So I decided that I've just go to get on with it and instead of sitting holding my breathe and panicking about every single thing possible I face it. On my Hamburg flight I had the window seat and instead of gripping the arm rest on take off like I normally do I kept repeating 'I am going to enjoy this take off - I'm going to look at the view and not panic' over and over. You know what before I knew it the seat belt sign was off and we'd levelled off.  PLEASE dont think I'm saying this is a doddle because I know only too well that its not and I don't want you think I'm saying 'nah just say that and you'll be cured' but it wasn't half as bad as I normally feel. Maybe it was the sheer concentration of repeating my little mantra or maybe just the distraction but I've done it once and now I know I can do it again.

 

Taking off takes what 10 minutes to level off so its not a long time of being amazing but in my mind it set me up for feeling more positive and confident about the rest of the flight.

 

On the plus side a small plane means the crew get to you quicker with the food & drink :)

 

There were only two crew members because it was so small but before we landed she did say that she was on the connecting flight to Nice for any passengers on that one she'd see them later. I suddenly thought 'she's flown from Hamburg to Manchester, Manchester to Hamburg and now she's going to Nice? Its just another day at the office for her. What's so different about me? Why to me is it the end of the world?'

Sarah said:

Thanks, Jo.

That's really good to know others feel the same.

I think I'd have had the same reaction to your Hamburg flight. I've never heard of Eurowings. What did you do to get through it? (Apart from the champagne!)

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