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G narrative tenses, past perfect continuous; so / suchthat

V air travel
P irregular past forms

Air travel: the inside story



a Read the back cover of a book about

air travel. Can you guess the answers
to any of the questions?

Depending on what computer system

the airline uses, check-in staff can talk to
each other via simultaneous email. So when
they seem to be taking a very long time to
type your rather short name into the computer,
they are probably sending one of their colleagues a
message usually about you or about someone in the
queue behind you. These messages range from Have you seen this incredibly goodlooking woman / man? to Ive got a really difficult passenger here does anyone
have a seat next to a screaming child? 1

Air Babylon is a best-selling book,

co-written by Imogen Edwards-Jones and
anonymous airline staff whose identities
must remain secret. It tells the inside
story about flying and answers all these
questions and many more
What are the check-in staff really doing when
they type at their computers?
Why is the heating often suddenly turned up
halfway through a flight?

There is a sensible drinking policy on all airlines, which means that we are not
supposed to serve passengers if they start getting noisy, but some air crew think that
if you give them enough to eat and drink, they will eventually fall asleep and give you
no trouble at all. 2
Thats the reason, of course, why we like to turn the heating up
halfway through a flight

Out of 1,000 passengers, how many will

probably lose their luggage?
Why do airport staff sometimes have a
problem with wheelchairs?
Why can you sometimes smell roast chicken in
a plane when they are serving you fish?

Some airports are notorious for losing passengers luggage. Heathrow has a poor
reputation most airports lose about two in every thousand bags, but Heathrow loses
eighty per thousand, which means for every five hundred people who check in, forty
wont get their bags or suitcases at the other end! 3
When the airport is busy,
which it always is, there is so much baggage being transported between the terminals
and so little time to do it that a lot of the transferred luggage gets left behind.

b Now quickly read the extract from

Air Babylon. Did you guess correctly?
c Now read the extract again.
Complete each paragraph with one
of the sentences below. Be careful,
as there is one sentence you do not
need to use.

d Do you believe everything you read

in the extract?


From Air Babylon by Imogen Edwards-Jones

A Wheelchairs are a big problem for us.

B It flies into the engine, totally
destroying itself and the machinery.
C Ill never forget the last time it
happened to me.
D So you can see, it really does pay to
be nice to the person at the desk.
E This is mainly because the transport
times between the terminals are so
F And, as every flight attendant knows,
a snoring plane is a happy plane.

Not only is there always a shortage of them for the people who really need
them, but worse still, some of the people who request them often dont need them at
all. Ive lost count of the number of times Ive pushed someone through the airport,
taken them through customs and passport control, and got a porter to pick up their
luggage, and then seen the person jump up in Arrivals and sprint towards their waiting
relatives. One flight attendant I know gets so annoyed when this happens that as soon
as the passenger gets out of the chair she shouts, Ladies and gentlemen! I give you
another miracle, courtesy of the airline industry! After decades in a chair, he walks
again! The passenger is normally so embarrassed that he (and its usually a he)
disappears as quickly as he can.
Birds are one of the major problems for any airport when
planes are taking off and landing. A swan or any large bird
can easily cause an accident. 5
Smaller birds are
less of a problem. In some cases they can do some
damage, but more often than not they are just
roasted. When this happens, there is often such
a strong smell of roast bird that passengers on
the plane think that chicken is being cooked,
and theyre often surprised when they are given
a choice of fish or beef at dinner!

2 VOCABULARY air travel

a Complete the column on the right with a word or phrase (all the words come from the Air Babylon extract).
At the airport
1 Most big airports have several different buildings called
2 Passengers leave from Departures and arrive at
3 Two general words for bags and suitcases are
4 When you arrive at the airport, you go to
to get your boarding pass.
5 Before you get on the plane you have to show identification at
and go through security.
6 After you have arrived you go to baggage reclaim to
your luggage.
7 When you go through
, you may be asked, Do you have anything to declare?
8 A person whose job is to carry your bags for you is called a
9 Ryanair and easyJet were two of the first low-cost
On the plane
10 The pilots and other people who work in the plane are the (air)
11 The people who have paid to travel in a plane are
12 The person who looks after you during a flight is the
13 You can usually ask for a window or aisle
14 The noun from the verb fly is
15 When a plane is going up into the sky it is
16 When a plane is coming down from the air it is


b Which of the words in a can also be used if you are travelling by bus or train?
c Cover the words on the right and read the definitions again.
Can you remember all the words and pronounce them correctly?

M I N I G R AM MAR so / suchthat
The passenger is normally so embarrassed that he disappears as quickly as possible.
When this happens there is often such a strong smell of roast bird that passengers on the plane
think that chicken is being cooked.
We often use so / such (that) to express a consequence.
Use so + adjective / adverb
The film was so good (that) we went to see it again.
He drives so dangerously (that) nobody wants to go with him.
Use so much / so many + noun
There was so much traffic (that) we nearly missed our flight.
Use such a + adjective + single countable noun
It was such a good film (that) we went to see it again.
Use such + adjective + uncountable or plural noun They played such awful music (that) nobody wanted to dance.
They were such beautiful shoes (that) I bought them.

Complete the sentences with so, such, or such a.


The flight was

long that I got really bored.
I had
noisy child sitting beside me that I couldnt sleep at all.
There was
long delay because of fog that we had to sleep at the airport.
My suitcase was
heavy that I had to pay excess baggage.
I slept
badly in the plane that it took me two days to recover.
We were served
terrible food that I couldnt eat a thing.
There were
many people at check-in that we had to queue for an hour.
We had
heavy cases that we had to ask for a porter.



3 GRAMMAR narrative tenses,

b Copy the highlighted verbs into the chart.

past perfect continuous

past simple regular

past simple irregular
past continuous
past perfect
past perfect continuous

a Read a newspaper story about an incident during a

recent flight. What happened?
Do you think the flight attendant should lose her job?

Were going to crash!

c In pairs, look at the sentences and circle the more logical

verb form. Be prepared to say why.
When the plane hit turbulence
1 the passengers screamed / were screaming.
2 the passengers relaxed / were relaxing.
3 they finished / had finished lunch.
4 they had flown / had been flying for two hours.

flight attendant
causes panic
on transatlantic flight
Everything was going smoothly on Virgin Atlantic flight VS043
from London Gatwick to Las Vegas. The 451 passengers were
relaxing after lunch when the plane hit some turbulence over
Greenland. There was no advance warning, so many passengers
were out of their seats or were not wearing seat belts when the
plane started dropping violently.

p.134 Grammar Bank 2B. Read the rules and do

the exercises.

e In pairs or groups, try to complete the two sentences in

four different ways using the four narrative tenses.
1 The police stopped the driver because he
2 I couldnt sleep last night because

4 P R O N U N C IATI O N irregular past forms

a Match the sentences 18 with the correct sounds AH
according to the pronunciation of the vowel sound.

Suddenly one of the flight attendants screamed , Were going

to crash! Panic immediately broke out. In the 30 minutes of
chaos, passengers desperately clung to their seats, as drinks
and magazines flew around the cabin. Amid the terror, the
flight attendant screamed every time the plane dropped.

From Daily Mail

Businesswoman Angela Marshall was travelling with her

partner. Until then the flight had been fine, she said
afterwards. Id been reading my book and my partner had
been having a nap. But when the flight attendant started
screaming, I was totally convinced that we were about to die.

Another passenger said, It was unreal, like something from a

film. People started crying and being sick. That woman
shouldnt be a flight attendant. After we landed she was joking
and laughing as if nothing had happened, but we all staggered
off the plane in a state of shock.


turbulence sudden and violent changes in wind direction

break (broke, broken) out pv start suddenly

cling (clung, clung) hold on tightly to sb / sth

nap a short sleep especially during the day

be about to be going to do something very soon

stagger walk as if you are about to fall



I thought hed caught that flight. I saw him

checking in.
The hotel was built in 1950. The date was written
above the door.
The company had become successful since it won
the prize for Best Airline.
I flew to Mexico City. I knew the city very well.
She read for a while before she fell asleep. Then she
dreamt about her childhood.
Wed flown from New York that day. Wed chosen a
bad day to travel.
I heard that theyd been hurt in the accident, but
they werent.
She said shed paid for the train with money shed
taken from my wallet.



Listen and check. Then practise saying the sentences.


GET IT RIGHT active listening
When someone tells us a story or anecdote, we normally interact
with the person who is telling the story.
Useful language
asking for
more information
What happened next?
Oh no!
Then what happened?
Youre joking? Thats great / How awful!
How did you feel?
No! I dont
What a pity!
What was it like?
believe it.

Communication Flight stories A p.116 B p.119. Read a newspaper

story to retell to your partner.

b You are going to tell an anecdote. The story can either be true
or invented. If it is invented, you must try to tell it in such a
convincing way that your partner thinks its true.
Choose one of the topics below and plan what you are going
to say. Look at the Story plan below, and ask your teacher for any
words you need.
Talk about a time when you (or someone you know)
a You are going to listen to an interview with two
pilots. Before you listen, discuss questions 16
with a partner and guess how the pilots will
answer them.
1 What weather conditions are the most
dangerous when flying a plane?
2 Which is more dangerous, taking off or landing?
3 Is it really worth passengers wearing seat belts?
4 Is it worth listening to the safety instructions?
5 Are some airports more dangerous than others?
6 How important is it for pilots to speak
English well?

2.6 Listen to the first part of the interview.

How many of the questions did you answer

c Listen again for more detail. Then with a

partner try to remember as much as possible
about the pilots answers.


Now listen to the second part.

What three questions do they answer?

e Listen again and try to remember the

f Do you think you would like to work as
a pilot? What are the main advantages and

had a frightening / funny / unusual experience when travelling

by plane / bus / train.
got ill or had an accident while travelling.
missed a bus / train / flight which caused serious complications.
arrived home from a trip and had a surprise.

Story plan
Setting the scene
This happened to me when I was
I was -ing when
I because I had / hadnt

The main events

I decided tobecause
So then I
Suddenly / At that moment

What happened in the end?

In the end / Eventually
I felt

c In pairs, A tell B your story. B ask A for more details and decide
whether the story is true or not. Then swap roles.


pilots have to practise on a simulator first before

they are given permission to land a plane there.
Interviewer How important is it for pilots and
controllers to have good clear English?
Steven Its the official language of the air, so
obviously its vital for pilots and controllers to
have good English. To be honest, it doesnt always
Richard And apart from peoples English not being
good, some countries dont respect the convention
and dont force their pilots to speak in English.
But most of them do, luckily.

2.7 Interviewer Have you ever had a problem

with a famous person as a passenger?
Richard Ive carried a lot of famous people and they
are usually very well behaved. But I remember
once I had the actor Steven Seagal as a passenger
and the cabin crew told me that he had just got
on board and he was carrying an enormous
samurai sword. Weapons arent allowed on board,
of course, so I had to go and speak to him. He
looked very imposing standing in the cabin. He
was nearly 2 metres tall, dressed completely in
black, carrying a sword and he is as you probably
know a martial arts expert. But in fact he was very
happy to give us the sword, which was gold and
which had been given to him as a present in Bali.
Interviewer Whats your most frightening
experience as a pilot?
Steven Crossing the road outside the airport
terminal! Thats certainly the most dangerous
thing I do. Probably in connection with flying, my
most frightening experience would have to be a
near miss I had when I was flying a Boeing 747 at
night. A small aeroplane passed in the opposite
direction just 15 metres below my plane. Just after
this happened, a flight attendant brought us some
hot snacks and I distinctly remember how good
they tasted!
Interviewer Have you ever been taken ill during a
Richard Once I was flying from Hong Kong to
London, thats a 13-hour flight, and I got food
poisoning after six hours. I felt terrible
incapable of doing anything at all for the rest of
the flight. Luckily though, the rest of the crew
were fine, because on all flights the crew are given
different meals, just in case. So as my co-pilots
had eaten a different meal and felt fine, the flight
was able to continue safely.

No! Peter shouted.

The windshield cracked and popped out as the
fire engine hit the floor. Broken. Peter hadnt even
played with it once, and his second best Christmas
present was broken.
Later, when Mommy came into the living room,
she didnt thank Peter for picking up all the
wrapping paper. Instead, she scooped up Little
Brother and turned him on again.
He trembled and screeched louder than ever.
My God! How long has he been off? Peters
mother demanded.
I dont like him!
Peter, it scares him! Listen to him!
I hate him! Take him back!
You are not to turn him off again. Ever!
Hes mine! Peter shouted. Hes mine and I can
do what I want with him! He broke my fire engine!
Hes a baby!
Hes stupid! I hate him! Take him back!
You are going to learn to be nice with him.
Ill turn him off if you dont take him back. Ill
turn him off and hide him someplace where you
cant find him!
Peter! Mommy said, and she was angry. She was
angrier than hed ever seen her before. She put Little
Brother down and took a step toward Peter. She
would punish him. Peter didnt care. He was angry,
Ill do it! he yelled. Ill turn him off and hide
him someplace dark!
Youll do no such thing! Mommy said. She

grabbed his arm and spun him around. The

spanking would come next.
But it didnt. Instead he felt her fingers searching
for something at the back of his neck.

2.16 Interviewer Hayley Levine is a flight

attendant for First Choice Airways. What made
you want to be a flight attendant?
Hayley I never really wanted to be a flight attendant,
I just kind of knew I always wanted to travel,
always had this idea that I wanted to see the
world, saw an advert in a newspaper, went for the
interview, got the job and loved it. So , and its
definitely for me, definitely.
Interviewer What kind of training did you have?
Hayley In order to become a flight attendant, you
have your group interview first, youre singled out,
you have a one-on-one interview, and then if you
pass that stage, you go on to your training which
is five weeks: first weeks all about customer
service, relations, things like that, and then you go
on to all your safety training which is four weeks
intensive training, you know, how to deal with
fires, evacuations, water landing, passengers and
then youre also, youre quite well trained on
immediate care, so you know, thats quite an
important part of our job, if something happens
up in the air, something medical, you know, you
need to be trained to deal with it quickly,
Interviewer What kind of person do you think the
airlines are looking for? I mean what kind of
person makes a good flight attendant?
Hayley I dont know exactly what theyre looking
for but I can only think they look for someone
whos quite outgoing, someone who can work
quite well in a team, you have to be a certain kind
of character to do what we do, I mean you fly
with different people every day, you know, you go
into work, anything could happen, theres
thousands and thousands of crew, you dont work
with the same people, you need to be able to just
get on with people that youve never met before,
work under pressure sometimes, so I think theyre
looking for someone who is, you know, quite
competent in what they do, quite confident, just
someone whos a team player really.
Interviewer Tell me, what do you think are good
and bad sides of the job?
Hayley Good sides, obviously I get to see the world
pretty much for free. I mean its amazing, you
couldnt ask for anything more really.
Bad sides, probaby sick bags, probably, and
obviously its really gruelling on your social life,
its more like a way of living than a job. You know,
you have to work around it. So, but yeah, its
good. I wouldnt change it for the world.
Interviewer Are there any other downsides?
Hayley Probably the jet lag, thats quite bad.
Definitely, you do suffer a lot, but you know, its
part of the job. You just sort of get on with it.
Interviewer Have you got any tips for dealing with
jet lag?
Hayley Tips? I dont wear a watch, sometimes that
helps. And if youre going sort of east, just try and
stay up, just try and fight the jet lag, thats the best
way. There isnt really a cure for it. I definitely find
it easier going east than I do west. I dont know
why that is.
2.17 Interviewer You must come into contact
with a lot of passengers who are afraid of flying.
How do you deal with this?
Hayley A lot of passengers are afraid of flying.
Theres not really a lot you can do. Just try and sit
and talk to them, calm them down. I think your
confidence is sort of always a good booster as
well, if they know that youre competent in what
you do, I think that helps. Most of them are OK
after take-off, its just that initial getting into the
air, and then theyre all right.
Interviewer How can you tell if someones scared?
Hayley If theyre a scared flyer, they do usually let
you know, or they walk on shaking so much that

its pretty obvious that theyre scared of flying.

You do feel sorry for them. Everyones scared of
something. But, yeah, they usually make
themselves known. Or come straight up and ask
for vodka. Thats when you usually know
someones scared of flying. I did have a guy once,
though, just before take-off and he was really
really scared of flying and Id spent a good half an
hour with him before the flight trying to calm
him down and we just got towards take-off and
he tried to open the emergency exit door. He was
having a panic attack. So, yeah, that was probably
the worst thing. He didnt want to fly, we got him
off. Poor guy, I felt really sorry for him.
Interviewer Have you ever been in a dangerous
situation, for example, have you had to evacuate a
Hayley Ive never had to evacuate an aircraft, never,
and hopefully never will. But were trained to do
that, so, you know, really well trained to do that,
but hopefully nothing like that will ever happen.
Never even remotely come close to it. So, thats
Interviewer Have you ever felt nervous or
frightened on a flight?
Hayley No, not really. Never, actually. I think the
worst thing is probably a bit of turbulence, but to
be honest, thats an excuse to sit down and have a
cup of tea. So, you know, no, Ive never really felt
frightened in the air. I feel really safe up there,
really safe, otherwise I wouldnt do it.

2.19 Interviewer How do you feel when you

Anne I love it. I really love flying. I like going to
different places, it doesnt matter how long it
takes. I just love flying.
Interviewer What do you least like about flying?
Anne The meals on the plane, thats what I dont
like about flying.
Interviewer Have you ever had a frustrating
experience when you were flying?
Anne Yes, I did actually. Last year, but it wasnt
actually on the plane, it was beforehand. I had too
much luggage at Delhi airport and they wouldnt
let me on the plane and they were trying to say
that I had to pay a lot of money. But eventually I
bribed somebody.
Interviewer How do you feel when you fly?
Jordan I love flying. I do.
Interviewer What do you least like about flying?
Jordan I dont like turbulence a lot because when it
shakes it makes me a little nervous. But I like
flying because youre isolated and you cant use
your cell phone or anything I like that.
Interviewer Have you ever had a frustrating
experience when you were flying?
Jordan Yeah, one time they lost my baggage, so I
had to spend my holiday without my luggage.
Interviewer How do you feel when you fly?
Jeff Predominantly comfortable, I think its a state of
Interviewer What do you least like about flying?
Jeff That Im not in control of the situation that Im
in, that Im putting my safety in somebody elses
Interviewer Have you ever had a frustrating
experience when you were flying?
Jeff Air travel, security-wise is very frustrating not
being able to take things on a plane and the huge
queues at the airports
Interviewer How do you feel when you fly?
Ben Safe, I mean I have no problems with travelling
at all. Security checks are a bit annoying, but its a
kind of necessary evil, I suppose.
Interviewer What do you least like about flying?
Ben Probably either the leg room or the food.
Theyre probably the two worst.
Interviewer Have you ever had a frustrating
experience when you were flying?
Ben A stopover in Chicago for quite a while, a few
years ago but nothing major, no.

Interviewer How did you become the


airline n /"e@laIn/
aisle n /aIl/
anecdote n /"&nIkd@Ut/
anonymous adj /@"nQnIm@s/
board n /bO;d/
chaos n /"keIQs/
consequence n /"kQnsIkw@ns/
controllers n /k@n"tr@Ul@z/
convention n /k@n"venSn/
co-pilot n /"k@U %paIl@t/
courtesy n /"k3;t@si/
crew n /kru;/
customs n /"kVst@mz/
declare v /dI"kle@/
delay n /dI"leI/
departures n /dI"pA;tS@z/
distinctly adv /dIs"tINktli/
exit n /"eksIt/
force v /fO;s/
fumes n /fju;mz/
imposing adj /Im"p@UzIN/
incapable adj /In"keIp@bl/
incapacitated adj /%Ink@"p&sIteItId/
luggage n /"lVgIdZ/
martial adj /"mA;Sl/
nap n /n&p/
navigation n /%n&vI"geISn/
notorious adj /n@U"tO;ri@s/
policy n /"pQl@si/
porter n /"pO;t@/
reclaim v /rI"kleIm/
recover v /rI"kVv@/
seat belt n /"si;tbelt/
simulator n /"sImj@leIt@/
simultaneous adj /%sIm@l"teIni@s/
snacks n /sn&ks/
snore v /snO;/
sprint v /sprInt/
survive v /s@"vaIv/
sword n /sO;d/
terminals n /"t3;mInlz/
thunderstorms n /"TVnd@stO;mz/
transatlantic adj /%tr&nz@t"l&ntIk/
transfer v /tr&ns"f3;/
transport v /tr&ns"pO;t/
type v /taIp/


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typhoons n /taIfu;nz/
vital adj /"vaItl/
warning n /"wO;nIN/
waste n /weIst/
worth adj /w3;T/


More Words to Learn
beg v /beg/
bounce v /baUns/
button n /"bVtn/
frantic adj /"fr&ntIk/
hopeless at adj /"h@Upl@s @t/
housekeeper n /"haUski;p@/
poodle n /pu;dl/
tear v /te@/
trip over v /%trIp "@Uv@/
wrap up v /%r&p "Vp/


More words in 2C
anxiously adv /"&NkS@sli/
apart adv /@"pA;t/
applaud v /@"plO;d/
babbling adj /"b&blIN/
blocks n /blQks/
bomb n /bQm/
crack n /kr&kt/
demand v /dI"mA;nd/
generation gap n /dZen@"reISn %g&p/
Gypsy n /"dZIpsi/
grab v /gr&b/
hard adv /hA;d/
hardly adv /hA;dli/
hose n /h@Uz/
howl v /haUl/
immediately adv /I"mi;di@tli/
increasingly adv /In"kri;sINli/
incredibly adv /In"kred@bli/
insect n /"Insekt/
instead adv /In"sted/
intentions n /In"tenSnz/
join v /dZOIn/
lap n /l&p/
lifeless adj /"laIfl@s/
limp adj /lImp/


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