Arrive Alive


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By Michael Furniss

Why you need this book...

You could pay less for your next air ticket.
You could triple your free baggage allowance
You will travel more comfortably
You will travel more safely
You will have questions answered and fears erased
It will entertain you en route
It will tell you how to recover your aircraft from hijackers
It will teach you how to land your Boeing 747


I’m here to tell you how to improve the quality of life when you are trapped in an aluminium tube crammed with sweaty humans seven miles above the level of your comfort zone.

Why should you listen to me? I’ll tell you why. I’m a New Zealander (who was born in India and raised in Africa, lived in Hong Kong, Singapore, Samoa and Auckland) – and Kiwis still each get more experience in long distance travel by air than any other nation in the world. We’re the experts because we had a problem in our corner of the world that no other area shared. Anywhere that we travel outside of the Antipodes involves about 10 hours or longer in the aluminium tube.

The RAF taught me to fly jets and I was a flight captain with Air New Zealand (and Singapore Airlines). Forty years and seventeen million kilometres later, I ended up instructing other airline pilots on flying Jumbos. I survived 40 years of the same sort of environment – I even thrived on it. I enjoyed flying. You will too after you read this book.

There are ways to improve your flying experience... for both the must-go business traveller and the budget-conscious tourist. The longer that you spend cooped up in the constricted confinement of a tin tube, the more you will need advice on how to ease your discomfort, which is not simply proportionate to the time.

The book has helpful advice, light to heavy, layered between entertainment and a little action. Take your pick and enjoy in any order you choose.


A host of subjects are addressed informatively – laced with humour and tips – from how you might pay less for your next air ticket to how to recover your aircraft from hijackers. Last but by no means least, are instructions on  how to land a Boeing 747.
Christchurch Press

This little 200-page book is a cracker. The NZ author offers the inside guff on how to survive a long flight, to complain, to enjoy livng in an aluminium tube crammed with 400 other sweaty humans, not to get the dreaded DVT, triple your baggage allowance, pay less for your ticket, the best bag and airline to use, and the not so good. We learn how to avoid Dengue fever, malaria, mosquitos, Delhi belly and jet lag. Then there is the problem of getting a god seat, overbooking, cabin service, getting an upgrade from cattle class to business class. But wait, there’s more... why you should tuck a $100 note into your passport in third world airports.
The book is entertaining, funny, serious and informative and essentially a survival bible for air travellers.
Hawkes Bay Today

Michael Furniss’s first job as a pilot was flying a winged tin can around Portuguese East Africa: the passengers were givcn food from a Thermos, the trip would take days and the pilot had to share a hotel room with the first officer. It was primitive, says Furniss, yet still gracious. But now, the miracle is whether you’ll avoid the seat next to the toilets, if you’ll get through security without having to disrobe and whether your bags arrive at the same place you do. “There’s no hint of graciousness left in the industry,” says Furniss. “The airlines jam 450 people on an aircraft, giving you a seat for an anorexic dwarf next to Olaf the Obese on one side and his sister on the other.”
Furniss feels so strongly about the matter that he wrote a book, Arrive Alive, about how to make the experience “less painful, by fair means or foul.” After flying for 40 years and teaching other pilots, he still enjoys the experience, despite the irate passengers and screaming children – Furniss says that his first daughter had 50,000 miles to her name before she turned one, many of them under the influence of a mild antihistamine. If people knew why things were done in a certain way, says Furniss, they might be less inclined to grumble. A plane might be delayed, he says, because the pilots have realised a storm is looming, and they need time to work out a different route and an adequate fuel level. Given most accidents occur on either landing or take-off, if you want to minimise the chance of being involved in a plane crash, says Furniss, take a route that involves as few stopovers as possible. Choose the largest plane from a well-known airline, and sit at the back: it’s usually the last part of the aircraft to reach the scene of an accident.
Don’t worry about those noises that sound like engines have cut out and the wheels are falling off about 30 minutes before landing, that’s just the normal noise of slowing speed and hydraulic pumps positioning the flaps and landing gear. As for industry changes, Furniss says a US senate subcommittee is considering installing a hijack button on 747s. If hit, it would shut down everything on the flightdeck and trigger the plane into a pre-programmed mode to head for the nearest airport and land. He questions whether it’s worth the amount of money, effort and worry to save, say, one plane a decade. He has written a guide to landing a plane for passengers to use in the event of a hijacking if the pilots are rendered unable to fly.
New Zealand Listener