A sickbag and story - part 1 - Panda Jenn/Lao Aviation

As most of you know, I collect airline sickbags. I have done so for a while, as I travel all over the place, and other people bring me back sickbags from their travels.

I tend to treasure those sickbags that come with a great story attached, so I thought I would share my collection and their stories with you lot.

Today, a rare Lao Airlines sickbag that Panda Jenn picked up this summer in Lao and gave me when we met in London and went to London Zoo to see the Giraffes.

"I booked this flight from Vientiane in Laos on Lao Aviation," said Panda Jenn as she handed over the immaculately preserved sickbag, "cos it was cheap."

"Then I realised why..."

A quick search on google for Lao Aviation's safety record gives us a pretty good impression of where she was coming from...

There are concerns about the safety standards and maintenance regime of Lao Aviation. The U.S. Department of State evaluates official domestic travel by its personnel on a case-by-case basis to limit the risks of travel. In the last decade four aircraft have crashed in remote mountainous areas of the country, usually due to severe weather conditions and pilot error.

The Foreign Commonwealth Office gives it an equally ropey report.

Prospective air travellers should be aware of doubts about the maintenance procedures of internal flights. Travel by Lao Airlines is strongly discouraged except on the ATR 72 aircraft and the Airbus 320. Yuen-7 and Yuen-12 aircraft should be avoided whenever possible. Since 2000, there have been several deaths as a result of domestic air accidents on Yuen-12 aircraft in Laos.

With the Aviation Safety Network reporting 27 fatal accidents and 371 fatalaties in Lao, she set off with less than a spring in her step. In fact she was shitting herself.

As she boarded the flight, it all became too much and she burst into tears and spend the rest of the flight with her head between her knees crying and trying not to be sick.

"I had to stop myself from saying to the hostesses

'You must be new to the job'.

'Why do you say that?'

'You're still alive'"

By the end of the journey in Kunming, she was so relieved to have been alive that the sickbag she was clutching onto had gained some significance. Both had travelled Lao Airlines and lived to tell the tale.
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