Tomorrow morning at 7am I fly to Paris for our meetings. OK fine, apart from the being picked up at 5.30am part. But this morning I took Django out for a walk in thick fog and started thinking "Oh no, what if it is like this tomorrow?".
You may already know that I am not a brilliant flyer. If the weather is fine, dry, perfect temperatures etc. and the pilot has a nice accent then it's not too bad, but if there are any negatives then I'm not too happy until we are safely on the ground. Well, the flying is fine, it's the landing that I hate.
So, if tomorrow morning is foggy again, but the airline is running the flight, would I refuse to fly? Probably not. After all, we trust the airline to know when the conditions are safe or not - they safely fly hundreds of trips a week after all.
There have been psychological studies such as Milgram's which look at how we obey and trust authority figures, or even those we consider to be an authority figure. Likewise, we trust those we consider to be experts in their field - they know better than us. We trust doctors to know what they are doing, and we trust airlines to know when conditions are safe and when they aren't. I can't understand people who complain because their flight was delayed due to bad weather or a technical difficulty. Would they rather die?
The other aspects which run through my head are - which airline is it? is it a reputable one or a budget Sierra Leone one? Once on the plane, what does the pilot sound like? It's totally unreasonable, but we do judge people on their voices and accents when they are in charge of our lives, even though we don't have details of their skills. I always feel safer when the pilot's name is Chris, simply because a previous 'Chris' managed the smoothest landing ever on a flight to Glasgow.
I do wonder though at what point I would miss a booked flight, through my choice. Would it depend on the reason for flying in the first place, and the importance of getting to the destination? or would it be down to things like some flights being cancelled and some not, and there being a general feeling of doubt in the air. And of course, whether I was in my home airport or half-way across the world.
And then there is always that nagging feeling that if I decided not to take a flight, people would be cross with me or laugh at me, or even worse be upset with me.
And that might be harder to take than the thought of a scary flight.