Letter from Edinburgh - Friday 14th April 2017

Now admit it. Aren't you glad that United Airlines do not fly our air services? 

This week's video footage of a passenger being physically hauled off a plane in the USA was breathtaking. United, along with many US airlines, overbook planes as a matter of policy. People are then offered money and alternative flights if everyone turns up.

In some cases United force a long suffering passenger off the plane. In this age of mobile phone cameras and social media, the video is on the Internet in seconds. United'S handling of this was a stock example of how not to. First the company kept its head down and said nothing. Then a partial apology.

Only after most flyers swore never to fly United did the boss fully apologise but the damage has been well and truly done. One tweet said the company's new slogan was, "If we cannot beat our competitors, we beat our customers." Ouch! 

I have been in Sumburgh departures when the Loganair ground crew have the unenviable task of asking one or more passengers to come off a flight south. This is invariably because of the weight of the aircraft fully loaded with passengers and luggage is over the limit for take off. Mercifully it does not happen often but is difficult for all on such days.

Solving this needs excellent staff and some understanding from passengers. It is manageable if there is an alternative flight later in the day but a delay longer than that is difficult. But at least Loganair are not taking people off a flight because they routinely over book flights. That is an intolerable policy. If you are flying to the USA this year think carefully who to choose.

Over one of the breaks in the weather, I managed to encourage the younger children to spot dinosaurs in Michaelswood at Aith. The wood is expanding with 8 more acres at the top of the existing plantation. It is a great place for young and old alike.

I bumped into Rae and Betty Ferrie who explained the next phase of development. A new poly tunnel with picnic tables will provide a wonderful hot house for tea and snacks on a day when we have sunshine, showers and brisk breeze. In other words most days. Michaelswood is an inspiring place to visit. People help with voluntary support - this is what our community is all about. The wood is a great tribute to the Ferries.

Wet weather facilities are a topical subject for parents and grandparents through this splashy Easter break. Clickimin has been a regular refuge. The one obvious gap for me is a big shed full of play equipment and soft surfaces. They are called play barns or kinder gyms in many parts of the country and are a godsend on a day of rain.

Some enterprising crofter with a spare shed should diversity. Just remember to include a cafe serving great coffee and home bakes. I will make no observation about the need for a licence.

It is splendid that Maryfield in Bressay is up and running again. After some hard knocks for the island, a welcoming hotel is very positive.


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