The lesser of the issues this event raises is: why did the airlines choose not to serve breakfast? They blame the weather. As is common at this time of year, the flights from the Windy City hit turbulence over the Atlantic. Strong tailwinds cut journey times for eastbound aircraft but increase the "ripple" effect that causes bumps. Cabin crew have to stay strapped in during turbulence. So, say the airlines, there was simply not enough time.
Yet the turbulence affecting the American Airlines plane had ended more than an hour before the Boeing landed at Heathrow. As people who fly between London and Paris will know, British Airways finds it quite possible to feed a Boeing 767 full of people during a flight that lasts a mere 30 minutes.
The first that American Airlines' passengers knew of the decision to dispense with breakfast was when the plane arrived; no announcement was made. The carrier says this is because the crew refrain from using the public address system on night flights. But a briefing upon arrival, suggesting places in Heathrow where a decent breakfast might be found, would have been welcome.
Much more importantly, why did the airlines chuck out the meals rather than give them to the genuinely needy, such as London's homeless people? A certain amount of wastage is inevitable with any form of mass catering. But when pristine consignments of meals are involved, you would hope that there would be some way to use the food to nourish the hungry rather than throwing the stuff away.
American Airlines says that UK customs regulations prohibit this sort of thing, and so food has to be destroyed as soon as it arrives. British Airways says health considerations prevent it distributing meals to the hungry. But given that the average in-flight tray has considerable shelf- life, it seems sad that there is no alternative to incineration.
"Hitch-hiking," says the guide book publisher Lonely Planet, "is never totally safe, and we don't recommend it".
So instead, why not try a safer activity, such as modifying electrical equipment?
Meandering through Mexico last week with Lonely Planet's Travel Survival Kit, I was alarmed to read that travellers intending to use electrical items are advised to "cut/file/bend" the pins on a plug to get it to fit a Mexican socket. Don't try this at home - or in Mexico.Reuse content