February 2019: Cabin Pressure from the Minister
One of my Christmas presents this year was a pair of tickets to go and see the new Concorde Museum in Bristol. I was never fortunate enough to go on a flight on the supersonic jet but I did see her make a very low pass over Preston Guild in the 70’s before she went into service. In North Devon we saw her distinctive shape pass high above Exmoor many times over the years. Most nights you could hear the sonic boom as she came out of supersonic speed to begin a slower path into London. Some nights you could just hear the same effect from the Paris Concorde.
The British Airways planes periodically came back to Bristol for maintenance and prolonged safety checks and the jets always used to draw a crowd. When I was a Wesley College it was always worth seeing the arrival and departure of these incredible airliners. I have been given books and seen a couple of programmes over the years and she was very special.
Of course British Airways and Air France struggled for a long time to make them pay and their famous drink problem (the fuel), noise and pollution did not make them the most welcome visitors around the world. Things got so bad that BA gave a deadline for improvement and made one of the Captains chief of a dedicated unit. He had written quite a few letters to the Board with ideas so he seemed a good person to blame if it didn’t work out. Captain Brian Walpole got another ‘driver’ to come and help him and they set to keeping the dream a reality. The losses were staggering and yet the solution was so simple you would think one of the well paid directors would have thought of it.
The Captains made enquiries using an agency and found that most of the people on the half empty flights did not know the cost of their seats. They were businessmen or people on media contracts, their PA’s booked everything. Previously, to fill the planes some bright spark had cut the fares adding to the losses. So when the passengers were asked how much they thought their seat was worth they all came up with a much higher sum and it was more of less the same across the aisles. So the price was doubled to $7000.00 and everyone kept flying and BA was told to use the planes in all the adverts. The Captains never looked back.
The passengers thought the privilege of a day trip to New York (some did it), no jet lag, sleeping back in your own bed and the possibility of sitting next to Joan Collins was worth every penny. It was all one class so even little old me could have sat next to a Diva for a couple of hours. And before and after the price hike the cuisine and wine list was superb.
My reason for telling you this interesting tale is quite simple. The passengers appreciated and loved what Concorde could do for them. They were willing to pay a premium to keep something so special. So what do we value in life and do we really want to keep the privilege of those things which come at a cost. Not everything has to roll out of the bank account to make this happen of course. Family, Friendship, Community, Faith, Church and Lent all require a little sacrifice. They warrant our love; our energy and our care. They are worth our interest and sacrifice. All these things are a privilege and there is cost if we wish to get the best from them and sometimes we need to make a sacrifice to have their benefit. In Lent we remember Jesus fasting forty days and forty nights in the wilderness, none of us would manage that but we can mark it in other ways.
That said, Christ and the salvation he provides is worth far more than we often make available. His love, his Kingdom and his World are worth so much more than any of us could offer but that should not lead to a free ride. What is a relationship with our Father God worth? It is worth everything.
There are the most amazing stories about Concorde. British Airways and the British were rightly proud of her and BA showed off the Concorde around the world. We need to show our faith more and show it is the most valuable thing in our lives. Lent should be another facet of that action not another opportunity to underrate discipleship or take Jesus for granted.