PASSPORT: That man trying to chat through your flight - he probably owns the plane


ALTHOUGH he has had a very hectic two-and-a-half years setting up Debonair, Franco still enjoys flying around and uses his own airline where possible.

"The other day I was on one of my flights," he says. "As the aircraft was taxiing away the flight attendant announced `Ladies and gentlemen there may be 50 ways to leave your lover but there are only four ways to leave this aircraft so please pay attention!' Then when we landed, she said `Ladies and gentlemen, please remain seated until the plane comes to a standstill and all the signs are turned off, then you may leave in the usual way: kicking, biting and scratching.' I laughed for about ten minutes."

When Franco interviews cabin staff he stresses that he wants them to have fun. "I always say you must take your job seriously but remember to have a sense of humour, to try to get away from the usual boring routine where the passengers feel they are being lectured and don't really listen."

Franco behaves like any other passenger when he is travelling. "I stand in line when I board the aeroplane and just sit quietly in the corner".

Franco holds an Italian passport with British and American residency. "I was in Italy recently and sitting next to an old southern Italian man who was on his way to Milan to visit a son who had done rather well for himself. This guy was a peasant, he had never been on an airplane before. When the flight attendant came along, he thought she was a ticket collector and tried to give her his ticket. He also tried to open the window because he was a bit hot".

These experiences are all written in a book that always travels with him. "I keep notes of all the things I should do within my airline. When you are travelling you meet all kinds of interesting people. When I fly I look for ways to make improvements."

Franco says that he always talks to other passengers, albeit anonymously. "I need to understand them and try and learn what people want from flying, to find out what made them choose that airline."

His gift of the gab worked well on a trip to Tunisia. "I had been out in the desert watching some filming and I got very sunburnt and decided to return to my hotel," he says. "But then I ran out of petrol about five miles from Djerba where I was staying. I waited on the roadside and eventually a lorry came along. I asked him in French for a lift and he motioned for me to jump in the back among a big load of watermelons.

"There was a very good-looking European woman also perched there. I asked her if she spoke French or German or Italian. She said `if you are going to tell me something stupid then I don't speak any of those languages. If you have something intelligent to say then you can say it to me in English.'"

That woman is now Mrs Mancassola.

Franco Mancassola is chairman of Debonair, tel: 01582 634300.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Gabriel Agbonlahor, Alexis Sanchez, Alan Pardew and Graziano Pelle
footballAfter QPR draw, follow Villa vs Arsenal, Newcastle vs Hull and Swansea vs Southampton
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... with this review
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam