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Air Babylon by Imogen Edwards-Jones

Air Babylon (edition 2006)

by Imogen Edwards-Jones

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2631543,310 (3.2)7
Title:Air Babylon
Authors:Imogen Edwards-Jones
Info:Non Basic Stock Line (2006), Ausgabe: New e., Paperback, 416 Seiten
Collections:Your library
Tags:2000er Jahre, Arbeitsalltag, Flughafen, Fluggesellschaft, Großbritannien, Roman, Satire

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Air Babylon by Imogen Edwards-Jones



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About four years ago I read Hotel Babylon, and upon learning of the existence of an Air Babylon I figured I would give it a shot. The idea behind the *-Babylon series of books is pretty much "look-how-stuff-works-behind-the-scenes-isn't-it-outrageous". Supposedly, all the events in the books are based on true stories told to the author by "Anonymous": people from within the industries whose names and employers cannot be divulged "for legal reasons". In Air Babylon all the events recounted to the author by Anonymous are compressed into a single 24 hour day of a single airport employee. Unfortunately this artificial intensity of weird stuff just makes everything feel a little absurd. This is a problem in a book that ultimately relies on being believable enough to 'shock' the readers with real-life events. The book presents itself as being a bit of an exposé, but ends up seeming like a collection of anecdotes about things that happen infrequently enough not to really be at all shocking, or even surprising.
The story itself necessarily becomes a contorted coat-hanger on which every juicy anecdote grapples for space. The reader follows an airport supervisor and his colleague, Andy, during a workday at the airport and then eventually onto a flight as they head to Dubai to celebrate Andy's birthday. Along the way they encounter a gallery of other forgettable caricatures. The birthday in Dubai becomes an excuse to emphasise all the drugs, sex, and apparently endless partying everyone involved in the airline industry gets up to all the time, something the reader is liberally reminded of throughout the book. Unfortunately this, and everything else with a racy angle to it, is emphasised to the point where it becomes annoying. Not quite to the extent that I feared, but still more so than I'd like. Oh, and on the off chance that anyone starts actually caring for the characters, there is also a laughably predictable love story that allows everyone to go home with a smile on their face.

I have to say though, Air Babylon isn't a terrible book. It held my interest, if only for the occasional airport and airline trivia which just about manages to hold its head above the frequent debauchery. Unfortunately it didn't come close to shocking or scaring me. There is plenty of stuff that probably should have shocked me, but it didn't. It's not even a matter of me doubting it's authenticity. Everything is just presented in a much too silly manner for me to take it seriously. Ultimately, I had relatively low expectations and the book met them. ( )
  clq | Jul 11, 2013 |
Edwards-Jones’ ‘Babylon’ books began with the now infamous ‘Hotel Babylon’ which subsequently became a popular British UK series a couple of years ago. This is the third book I have read, after Hotel Babylon and Beach Babylon. The books tell the story, hour-by-hour, of one employee in the industry.

I have to say, I hate flying. To me, there’s nothing enjoyable, pleasant or fascinating about it. I used to need a valium just for an hour long flight and I would spend weeks before the flight stressing myself to tears, and nearly cancelled several holidays, and one memorable time ended up in a pharmacy, hysterically begging for drugs and crying ‘I’ll never be able to go home!!’. Now, after many long-haul flights from Australia to the Netherlands, I’m not so hysterical, but I still hate flying with every fiber of my being. So was it a good idea to read this book? Maybe.

Air Babylon is told by a deputy manager in an anonymous UK airport. The stories are of baggage handlers, security staff and ground staff who work ‘on the front line’ in the airport, in addition to the stories of flight attendants (hosties) and to a small extent, pilots. There are some passenger stories, insights into the world of drug-smuggling, animal transport and what actually happens when someone dies during a flight.

There are some interesting facts throughout the book, which when explained by the narrator make complete sense, and others which have you shaking your head and thinking ‘WTF?!’.

Personally, I would have enjoyed more stories about the passengers, and a little less about the pranks and relationships of the airline staff (I don’t want to even think about whether some of these things are true or not!), and for me the ending was a little absurd and abrupt.

Overall, this is a fun, light read, but maybe not the best choice if a) you are a nervous flyer or b) about to take a flight (especially long-haul!). The characters are funny and realistic and the reading is easy. ( )
  katlb82 | Jan 27, 2012 |
This book confirmed everything I ever suspected about plane food and everything I knew about the service industry: always and under all circumstances be nice to the people who handle your food, drinks and personal belongings.
On my next holiday I'll remember to bring my own sandwich, try not to think too hard about the safety and try to avoid all plane and airport bathrooms..
  verenka | Jun 16, 2010 |
This was a fascinating expose of life in the sky. Interesting stuff that happens behind the scenes when you fly.

Back Cover Blurb:
Do you know the best place to have sex on a plane? Do you know that one drink in the air equals three on the ground? Do you know who is checking you in? Who is checking you out? Do you know what happens to your luggage once it leaves your sight? Is it secure? Are you safe? Do you really know anything about the industry to which you entrust your life several times a year?
Air Babylon is a trawl through the highs, the lows and the rapid descents of air travel. It catalogues the births, the deaths, the drunken brawls, the sexual antics and the debauchery behind the scenes of the ultimate service industry - where the world is divided into those who wear the uniform and those who don't..... ( )
  mazda502001 | May 17, 2010 |
I liked the last book I read by her, Hotel Babylon, because it was different, and had this sordid reality TV feel to it. This book was the same book in a different setting, and somehow, it wasn't nearly as interesting. There were some neat insights into the back end of airport life, and it felt like a reasonably fast read, but no, it didn't grab me. ( )
  kikilon | Mar 31, 2009 |
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'Air Babylon' is a trawl through the highs, the lows, and the rapid descents of the travel industry. It catalogues the births, the deaths, the drunken brawls, the sexual antics, and the debauchery of the ultimate service industry - where the world is divided into those who wears the uniform and those who don't.… (more)

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