After attending the Playgrounds conference in Melbourne, I was on the Air NZ 850 flight back home to Wellington together with several other Cocoaheads Wellington members. Prior to boarding, we talked about taking a picture on the plane that we could use both as a backdrop for our website and also as a “thank you” picture that we could send to Andyy Hope and the Playgrounds crew. That idea (and the process of taking the picture) almost gave a poor woman a heart attack.
Here’s what happened: before boarding the plane I asked everyone in our group if they were keen to take a picture together mid-flight. Everyone was “on board” with the idea, and because I was seated right at the front of the plane, I took the first opportunity and I asked the flight attendants if it would be okay for us to take a picture after they had finished with the food-and-drink service. The flight attendants confirmed that it would be okay so we proceeded with the plan.
We used the in-seat communication channel to chat to each other. I was talking to Sam, Tim was talking to Raj or Max, you get the idea. Giggles ensued as Tim suggested that maybe the pilot could join in on the photo, since the plan would surely have an auto-pilot feature. Since we were all scattered around the plane, getting out of our seats was going to be a bit tough and even crawling under the seats was considered. Silly stuff.
The flight was smooth and the food and drink service went by quickly. Once the aisle was clear I stood up and I made my way to the back of the plane. As I approached someone from our group I’d lean over and say “We’re doing this now. Come to the back of the plane”. The first person stood up, then the next, and eventually I reached Tim. He was seated in a window seat right at the middle of the plane. Soon everyone had stood up and assembled at the back of the plane, as per our plan.
I gave Julie my iPhone and asked her to shoot a few photos. She took some pictures of us smiling, and some other photos of us attempting to make the letter “P” (for Playgrounds) using our fingers. We were smiling, giggling, and we were completely unaware that a flight attendant had stopped next to where Tim used to be seated.
Minutes later we started making our way back to our seats but the flight attendant that had stopped next to Tim’s seat was now chatting to him at the back of the plane. A few of us looked back and we didn’t quite understand what was going on so we went back to our allocated seating.
It would all make sense to us later on. After going through the security check, we regrouped and Tim told us what had happened: as he was messaging using the in-seat entertainment system, the woman next to him caught glimpses of words: “…pilot…”, “…auto-pilot…”, “…under the seat…”, “…back of the plane…”, “…after dinner…”. Then she heard my say (in my Eastern European accent) “We are doing this now”, and then she saw a couple of men follow me and the one next to her excuse himself to join us.
It’s easy to see how all those pieces of information could form more than one puzzle (ie. taking a funny picture for our new Melbourne friends) so she rightfully summoned a flight attendant. Luckily I had already informed this particular flight attendant of our plans and she could see us setting up to take a picture so she was able to reassure the worried passenger that it was just a misunderstanding.
I’d hate to think what would have happened on a different flight, with a different crew. In hindsight I smile, because the woman seated next to Tim laughed it all off. But I wonder if I would have had a heart attack, had I been in her place.
In conclusion, thank you Andyy Hope and the Playgrounds crew for a fantastic conference. We all got back home safely and, to the best of my knowledge, nobody was hurt while taking the picture attached to this blog post.