The Hotel Fire

Captain Harry Biggun
Chief Pilot, Chicago Domicile

RE: The Hotel Fire

Dear Captain Biggun,

I received from your office recently a rather icy, indeed hostile, telephone call requesting a report concerning the alleged proceedings, during the layover, involving my crew following our airlines inaugural Chicago-Tokyo flight. As the reports from the local authorities and the head of the Japanese ligation were undoubtedly a complete fabrication, I take the opportunity to put the truth of the matter in proper perspective.

Scene: Gate 4 – Block-In – On time arrival, Narita International Airport, Tokyo

On arrival, after 14 hours and 23 minutes in flight, the crew found acceptable the airline managements kind offer to “buy the inaugural crew around of drinks.” Certain members of the crew, while still onboard, decided to upgrade the status of the event. So, in a festive atmosphere, appropriate quantities of libation and left-over snacks, were with permission, borrowed from the food and beverage carts. The celebration would be held at the layover hotelgenerally and my room in particular.

An enjoyable evening ensued but insufficient supplies had been obtained, so several crew members voluntarily departed to obtain further refreshments. Fortunately, there was a Karaoke Bar just down the street. In a truly fine gesture, seven bar girls from the establishment helped carry the newly acquired lubricants back to the hotel. To demonstrate our appreciation for their assistance, we offered them some drinks. Their offer to entertain us with some local culture was unexpected. And, in order not to offend, we allowed them to perform a few native exotic dances.

The simple coincidence of security arriving just as we stood the double bed on its side, across the door, to make the dance floor bigger is obvious. The banging on the door of my room had, by then, quite honestly, become invasive. I have no doubt the sneak who called security was the sister of the Minister of Police, whose room was unluckily right next door. I personally heard nothing of my co-pilot’s threats, claimed by her, of what life could be like in a Japanese internment camp.

The major damage to the room occurred when a group of party crashers, whom we could not have known were hotel security, forced their way in just as most of us happened to be leaning against the bed watching the performance by our invited guests.

Subsequent events in the foyer of the hotel are an equally vicious distortion of facts. As I was explaining the importance of the inaugural celebration to the hotel General Manager, I noted that other guests were fabricating stories of noise, drinking and singing at his establishment, when first Officer Rogers and several other healthy-living enthusiasts, in keeping with their almost monastic pursuit of health, organized the race up the drapes which hang along the foyer wall. It says nothing for the workmanship, construction and installation, that the fittings were torn from the wall before most of the crew were half way up.

At this stage, in an amazing display of international posturing, the Governor of the city, who was attending the National Fuji Day cocktail party in the foyer, cast some denigrating remarks about U.S. culture. Although he misunderstood our gestures of greeting, one of our female flight attendants, I will refer to as Gigi, rescued the situation with her depth of knowledge of local culture.

Her rendition of “A Maidens Fertility Dance” in the foyer’s “Pool of Remembrance” was nothing short of breathtaking. Normally, this dance is performed in just a sarong skirt – so, her extra step to nature was a bold leap forward. Unfortunately, during one intricate turn, Gigi slipped and fell beneath the fountain, we were lucky the co-pilot, to avoid getting his uniform wet, had the presence of mind to strip before leaping into the pool. That the tiles of the pool were slippery is beyond dispute, as it took nearly ten minutes of thrashing about before he could actually complete his rescue. Such concern was there for these two exemplary crew members’ safety, that the restof the crew were forced to assist, and I deny that this massed altruisticrescue attempt could be construed as a game of “Water Polo.”

Order had nearly been restored when the fire started.

I prefer my Second Officer Roy’s version of events that the drapes had caught fire from being accidentally placed against a light fixture and that he dropped his cigarette lighter while trying to escape the flames. Had the host management fulfilled their responsibilities and used fire retardant material instead of velvet, the fire would not have spread to the rest of the hotel.

The responsible attitude shown by my crew in assisting the bar staff to carry out drinks from the cocktail party is to be commended, not condemned, and the attempt by male crewmembers to extinguish pockets of fire using natural means has been totally misrepresented in some quarters. I can not overstate how strongly I resent the assertions made in the Chief Fire Officer’s Report. His Security Cam videos are inconclusive as there were vast quantities of smoke in the parlor. Plus, the photos presented are out of focus and should not have been presented as evidence.

I made an official protest about these matters when the head of the Japanese Legation visited us at the Police Station the next morning. However, not only did our Ambassador not attempt to refute the preposterous allegations made against me and my crew but also failed to secure our immediate release, resulting in our subsequent scheduled departure delay. I was not informed his Holiness the Dalai Lama was to be aboard the departing flight, but I am sure his extended 12 hour visit was appreciated by local dignitaries.

Finally, not since High Buttoned Shoes and the DC-3 Sleeper, has the Hotel and our airline been mentioned in so many newspapers. I trust that now that I have outlined the correct version of events, we may allow ourselves a discreet smile and put all of this behind us. As far as I am concerned, my crew carried on in the finest of our airline’s traditions.

With utmost Respect and Gratitude
Sincerely Yours,

Captain Dick Gorejuss
MD-11 Int’l, ORD Domicile

* Credits for above sequence of purported events belong to Captain Dave Temples, American Airlines retired.
Paraphrase edited assistance by Captain Ron Hart, American Airlines, retired.


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