you're reading...
Non Fiction

Air mail: Letters from the world’s most troublesome passenger

Air mailT Ravencroft (Mr) would like to thank all the airlines and airline staff who replied to his letters, at times with patience above and beyond the call of duty, and without whom this book would not have been possible. 

Meet the world’s most troublesome passenger, T Ravencroft. Mr. Ravencroft spent his time constructing funny, profane, insulting letters to airline companies putting forth all his unusual queries and requests, and insults people and other cultures along the way. 

Ok what is so funny about insults? Surely there must be a line drawn between humour and insults? I have a strict definition of what is considered humour, but this book left me gasping for air as a result of convulsive giggling that this must be one of the funniest books I have read for years! 

Mr. Ravencroft:

  • Wants to know how he can order one of those air stewardess’ uniforms so that he could order one for his wife to spice up his sex life.
  • Wants to know how he can fit into the seat when he weighs 42 stones.
  • Wants to know how he can be compensated for his stiff neck because he has to strain his neck to look at the TV screen.
  • Wants to know if his wife will be suck out of the window if the window is accidentally struck by a masonry hammer.
  • Wants to know what the word Lingus in Aer Lingus means? And suggested that if the airline want to highlight the ‘Irishness’ of the airline, while at the same time making the name understandable to anyone who speaks English, the perfect appellation for it would be Aer O’Plane! (Ha! Ha!)
  • Wants to go to Australia for holiday and wants to know what age would it be safe for a baby from being swallowed by a dingo? (Qantas referred him to the Tourism Commission and The Zoo instead)
  • Wants to know from Air India how he can transport a 13 tonne by air from India
  • Wants to know from Malaysian Airline how he can transport one pound of cornflour without being misconceived as narcotics?
  • Wants to know in case his mother-in-law slip and fall in Bulgaria mountain and died, how would she be classified on a plane? Would she come under passenger or luggage?
  • Wants to know why Air Italia replaced those good looking air stewardesses for a TV screen on demonstrating in-flight safety instruction?
  • Sometimes offers spelling lesson, to Airlanka Mr. Hasan Scarr, whose first language is not English, that Wether is spelt Weather, querie is spelt query, oportunity is spelt with double p, and Hasan is spelt Hassan! (I blurt out laughing at this one on the morning train!)
  • wrote many other stupid requests and the audacity of writing them all the way up to Chairman of British Airways (BA) and Lord Richard Branson. 

As airline officials patiently replied his letters, one even offered history lessons on the conflict in Cyprus, Mr. Ravencroft insisted on further request. Some like Korean Air, Egypt Air, Turkish Air, Belgian Air are not bothered to reply his eccentric queries. 

I wouldn’t say all his requests are all nonsense though, there are some that make perfect sense, sample these:

A BA passenger will be overcharged for overweight luggage, as a result the passenger ate his stock of chocolate to lighten his luggage weight, so the point Mr. Ravencroft wants to make is: 

(a) BA check-in girl causing the passenger to eat the chocolate was futile, since the total weight of the passenger and his baggage was precisely the same both before and after he had eaten the chocolate.

(b) The passenger only weighed about 9 stone. He weighs close to 18 stone and he is quite sure that his weight added to his baggage was greater than the passenger’s weight added to his baggage, so the system is clearly unfair.

If either (a) or (b) had been taken into consideration, and any degree of common sense had been applied, the passenger would have been allowed onto the aeroplane without being coerced into eating the chocolate and he would not have thrown up on Mr. Ravencroft’s Hush Puppies shoes. Also,

I always wonder why they asked to reduce the weight of the luggage and allowed me to carry the extra weight as hang luggage. The justification was an extra piece of luggage incurred extra handling fees. Still don’t make sense to me. And also, 

Airline should ban announcements by flight crews about geographical features which can be seen from the right-hand / left hand side of the plane, and he don’t get to see any of those landmarks because he is always sitting on the wrong side of the plane and there is this women who clamber on his side of the plane to look out of the window, lurched forward and fell on top of him! 

I bet you don’t know that:

  • Airlines operates a separate Exchange rate when they are up in the air. Don’t expect you will be given the correct foreign exchange when you buy food with one currency and get change for another.
  • Virgin Atlantic pays $3000 for 2 months on a Box-office film that is shown on flight and definitely won’t be filming Ravencroft’s own film production.
  • It is acceptable to consume your own wine on boards. In practice this is not something the airlines would encourage or advertise, that while the crew serves alcohol on board, they are more able to control the amount consumed. 

These are very outdated letters. Some airlines companies have ceased to exist, and letter that is dated before the Euro is introduced in Spain. I supposed Mr. Ravencroft has chosen to publish the letters and response many years later as a book, is perhaps to avoid legal implications. 

For past months I have spent countless working hours designing complaint policy, procedure and system, even attended a course on letter writing. This book is so relevant. This letter version of Ali G and Borat send me on hysterical fit of laughter and for that reason I am going to score it a full mark. 

My Verdict: 5/5

What I like about the book: hilarious, audacious. It took me 2 hours to finish it. I loan the book from the library but I am running across the road to the charity shop to purchase it for 50p!!! 🙂

What I hate about the book: None, but some insults can be a little overboard. Depending who is reading it. It doesn’t bother me though.


About JoV

A bookaholic that went out of control.... I eat, sleep and breathe books. Well, lately I do other stuff.


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 273 other followers

Ratings Defined

0 = Abandon the book after first chapter

1 = Waste of paper, we will see what the environmentalist say about this!

2 = Skip it, read the book if you have got nothing better to do

2.5 = An average book, easily forgettable.

3 = A good read.

3.5 = A good entertaining read, a page-turner

4 = So glad that I read the book, a book with substance and invaluable for future reference

4.5 = So glad that I read the book, would pester everyone to read it, invaluable, I would want to own it and wouldn't mind a second read (something that I seldom do)

5 = The book is so good that I feel like I am on scale 4 and 4.5, and more, it blew me away and lingers on my head for weeks!

Books Read

JoV's bookshelf: read
Hold Tight
The Fault in Our Stars
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
The Thief
Catching Fire
A Tale for the Time Being
Into the Darkest Corner
The Liars' Gospel
Goat Mountain
Strange Weather In Tokyo
Strange Shores
And the Mountains Echoed
Ten White Geese
One Step Too Far
The Innocents
The General: The ordinary man who became one of the bravest prisoners in Guantanamo
White Dog Fell from the Sky
A Virtual Love
The Fall of the Stone City

JoV's favorite books »
Share book reviews and ratings with JoV, and even join a book club on Goodreads.

Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

%d bloggers like this: