"How was your flight?" - "A bit bumpy above the Azores, but fine otherwise."

You hear this kind of dialogue occasionally in old films from the 1950s and 1960s, when air travel, especially intercontinentally, was still firmly the province of the wealthy. I’m quite certain I remember it being used in at leats one James Bond film, even though I don’t recall which one.

In essence, the situation is this: Someone has just arrived from an intercontinental flight and is greeted by another person awaiting them, who asks how the flight was. The answer refers to some geographically defined location along the route (such as an island in the ocean that was crossed) and something slightly remarkable that happened during the flight in the vicinity of that location.

I’ve never had such a dialogue in my life myself, and I don’t think it would ever occur to me to talk like that. But was it really a thing in the past? Perhaps it was a leftover from days when transoceanic air transport was still thought of to be somewhat analogous to shipping. But perhaps it was just as made up then as it sounds to me now, and just inserted in films and novels to add a kind of cosmopolitan man-of-the-world touch to the protagonist.

Since I probably talked to you on the phone a few hours before you left, and you were fine then, how have the past ten hours or so gone?

I find that most flights have an eventful episode worth talking about. Quality of the meal, cute flight attendant, view out the window, interesting seat-mate, cleverly-produced safety instruction video (Air France’s is worth viewing on youTube).

I’ve been on two flights in the past year on prop-driven airliners, and saw a breathtaking view of a glacier calving icebergs in Greenland. Two lovely flight attendants hugged me, a perk of old age. Not all flights have to be pull-the-shades play-video-games.

You should understand that if the protagonist was English (ie. JB), “A bit bumpy above the Azores, but fine otherwise.” may well be a comment on, what for the other passengers, was a hair raising flight marked by turbulence and altitude drops followed by a landing in severe cross-winds.

In a similar vein - 40 degrees below, would be “a bit chilly” and Katrina would be “a trifle breezy”.

It’s just an expository device.

And shrugging off a near-crash also shows off the sang-froid of a classy British spy like Bond. James Bond.

That may be true, but I am planning to use the phrase “A bit bumpy above the Azores, but fine otherwise.” whenever I can from now on.
However, I am going to have to perfect my James Bond/Sean Connery accent to deliver it properly.

I support this.

“…and no funny business” would be good too.

“Gimme a Jr Cheeseburger Deluxe, 6 piece spicy, and a large Coke. And no funny business!”

me, too :slight_smile:

Prior to the 1970’s air traffic typically flew at lower altitudes and thus experienced more weather and effects from terrain. Today you soar over the Azores at 30,000+ feet. Back then you were lower and terrain-created turbulence might have actually been felt on the flight, along with more weather-created effects.

This was mainly a feature of prop-driven airplanes (I am just old enough to remember when commercial air travel was usually prop-driven and the first few flights I was on were on prop airliners). Once jets and their higher altitude capabilities became the norm such experiences became very rare, mostly over high mountain ranges like the Rockies, Andes, and Himalayas.

Me three!

Recently flew out of SGN where the pilot announced, before take off, lots of cloud and weather, don’t take off your seatbelts, we’re in for a bumpy ride. But assured us we were safe to fly and land, in the next breath! Yipes!

I’m gonna tell every one we were over the Azores now though!:smiley:

Ppossibly relevant fact:
Back in the old days, all airline seats had a barf bag within easy reach. *
Nowadays, I don’t see them so much.

*And in the era of propeller planes, there was good reason.By the time jet travel became common ( late 60’s?), I think it was still being done as a hangover from the past,just because it was standard procedure.

(I erased a double post–mods please delete)

Really? That surprises me! I’ve never been in a plane that didn’t have a barf bag right there with the inflight magazines.

Sounds like a code so that the person meeting Bond at the airport can recognise him.

“How was your flight?”

“A bit bumpy above the Azores, but fine otherwise.”

“A pleasure to meet you, Mr Bond”

I think I sometimes do answer questions about flights this way. “A bit bumpy over the Rockies” “Beautiful view of Mt. Hood coming in” “Missed Mt. St. Helens, but saw Crater Lake on the way down.” I’ve been known to take pictures and share them too.

First flight I was ever on had HUGE turbulence over Oklahoma. Great big anvil-head cumulus clouds, and immense lifts and drops as we flew over them.

I didn’t have anything to compare it to, and thought that this must just be how flight is. Then the drinks cart lifted off the deck…

I thanked the pilot, on exiting, told him it was my first flight. He promised they aren’t all like that!

So, yeah, when asked, I had something to comment on!

I think either you just haven’t looked, or they’re a little more tucked-away than they used to be, because I fly often and they’re always in the seat pocket in front of me.

I don’t fly an unusually large amount and I feel like conversations like this are pretty common, and often the answer is “fine, no problems.” It’s phatic communication–meant to establish a connection and open a dialogue. Occasionally there’s something interesting to report about the flight and then it becomes a real conversation.

Other side of the coin.

When flying into see my soon to be MIL and FIL (for the first time), I asked my father in law to be if he had any trouble getting to the airport to pick us up.

He said “No, and I haven’t been here since (Wife to be) brought that last guy home”.

My FIL was a wonderful, wonderful man. Honest as the day is long, and because of that, tended to stick his foot in his mouth.

Married now 20 years and love my extended family.

After that first exchange, I knew I would fit right in. Love ya Bob. We all miss you.

Other thought. Back when I started flying places, in the '70s, your in-flight entertainment options were the in-flight movie (usually dire), a book, your seat-mates, or looking out the window. I expect people nowadays take less notice of the details of the actual flight path and experience, because there are so many opportunities for distraction.

But I still remember some details of notable flight experiences I’ve had. Like the time we missed every minute of a 5-day 40+ heatwave as we blew in on the cool change (and felt every bump of it … wheeee!). It’s up there with “reasons I was bumped from Economy to Business” as a long haul flight topic of conversation.