I Flew to Brazil by Accident

Settling into my seat on the plane, I felt tired, ready for a drink and looking forward to getting home. As I sipped a gin and tonic and pushed my seat back, I remember thinking. ‘Only a couple of hours and I’ll be home.’ I’d phoned my girlfriend, Georgina, from Copenhagen before the plane took off to tell her I was on my way. She’d said she’d pick me up at Heathrow Airport but I told her not to bother. After another drink, I snoozed until I heard a flight attendant announce, ‘We will shortly be landing at Heathrow.’ ‘Better get my things together,’ I thought. And that was it. I honestly don’t remember another thing until I woke up again later on. For a couple of minutes I sat wondering sleepily if we were still on our way down to Heathrow. Then I began to realize something funny was going on. The two seats next to me had been empty when I fell asleep. Now a man was lying across them sleeping. There’d been a little girl in front, who’d kept grinning at me over the back of her seat. She had gone. And, weirdest of all, all the lights were off and everyone seemed to be asleep.

Slowly it began to dawn on me what had happened. I simply couldn’t believe it and felt increasingly horrified. The plane must have landed at Heathrow, let off some passengers, taken on others and set off on the next part of its journey. And I knew where that was to – Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil.

What on earth was I going to do? Poor Georgina would be wondering what had happened to me, and by now she was probably frantic with worry. And I was stuck on the plane with no ticket. Would they believe it was an accident? Had I really fallen so deeply asleep that I’d completely missed the plane landing and taking off again? I’d certainly been tired but this was ridiculous!

Not knowing what else to do, I went to look for a flight attendant and told her what had happened. I found out it was about 3 a.m. and we were several hours into the 11-hour flight to Brazil. The flight attendant thought it was very funny and told me not to worry. There wasn’t much anyone could do, anyway.

We landed in Rio at lunchtime on the Saturday. I was slightly worried that I might be hauled off the plane and locked up as an illegal immigrant. In fact, they took me straight to the departure lounge and told me that I had to sit and wait for the next flight to London, which was at 10 o’clock.

The first thing I did was call Georgina. She was furious because she had convinced herself that I’d been in a plane crash which she’d heard about on the news.

Once I’d made the call, I decided it would be a shame to be in Rio and not see any of it. So, slipping out of the airport, I jumped into a passing taxi. It was surprisingly easy! The driver took me round Rio and down to Copacabana beach. It was great! There I was, sitting on one of the most exotic beaches in the world instead of being back in gloomy England, hard at work. The thought of work and the valuable contract I knew I had now lost depressed me for a moment. But then I decided than since I couldn’t do a thing about it, I might as well take in the sights.

In the late afternoon I headed back to the airport. I had to confess that I’d sneaked out. The airline staff were not at all pleased and gave me an escort to watch my every move. However, I wasn’t planning on going anywhere else – I wasn’t going to miss the plane home. Fortunately, there were no problems or delays and we landed at Heathrow at lunchtime on the Sunday. I’d set off from Denmark 48 hours earlier and had spent most of that time in the air, I’d travelled an unbelievable 11,000 miles across the world and back, had a quick paddle in Brazil and landed back home again, tired, fed-up but none the worse for the experience.

Georgina recovered from the shock and was able to see the funny side of it, eventually. As for me, I still haven’t worked out how I slept through a whole landing and take-off.

Points of view

If you flew somewhere by accident, where would you like it to be?

If you only had time to do one thing there, what would you do?


Read the questions, then read the passage again and choose the correct answer or ending.

1. What did Nigel do during the Copenhagen to London Heathrow part of the flight?

a) He had something to eat and drink.

b) He talked, drank and slept.

c) He had a couple of drinks and a sleep.

d) He slept the whole time.

2. How did he first feel when he realized they had left Heathrow?

a) amused

b) shocked

c) excited

d) frightened

3. When he arrived in Rio, he was

a) arrested for illegal entry.

b) fined because he hadn’t got a ticket.

c) ordered to stay in the departure lounge.

d) offered a flight home the next day.

4. He spent his time in Rio

a) sightseeing.

b) sunbathing.

c) worrying about work.

d) taking photos.

Pre-reading task.

1) What for you is most important from an airline? Put the following in order of importance:

¨ safety

¨ comfort

¨ punctual departures and arrivals

¨ good food and wine

¨ attentive cabin staff

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