Fly the smoggy skies

This is your Captain speaking. It’s 4:30 p.m. local time, March 6, 2024, and we’re beginning our descent into Beijing, although you could never tell by looking out the window. Visibility is at 5 feet and shrinking. The weather forecast calls for cancer-causing smog, followed overnight by acid rain.

Masks will be dropping from the ceiling in the next couple of minutes, but don’t be alarmed. If your final destination is Beijing, you must put on a World Health Organization-approved pollution mask before leaving the airport. If you’re traveling with a small child, please make sure their mask is properly secured before putting yours on.


Beijing, from 20,000 feet.

Our cabin crew will be going around in a few minutes to hand out anti-acid tablets. Unlike the masks, these aren’t required, but I highly advise taking a few just in case that lamb meat you order for lunch turns out to be diseased rat. That actually happened to me once, and I got so bloated that I looked like a woman pregnant with twins in her third trimester.

Pollution masks fall from the ceiling. A few people who were asleep during the announcement scream, but quickly calm down after they realize the plane hasn’t lost cabin pressure; they’re just landing in Beijing.

A few more things to tell you while we prepare for landing. Recently, there have been scandals involving baby formula, bottled water, fruit and vegetables containing high levels of pesticide, recycled cooking oil … (turns to co-pilot, voice barely audible: Bob, I know I’m forgetting something) … oh, and fresh air in a can. If, like me, you have a pulse, then you’re probably concerned about at least one of these things. However, all of these items are for sale in our duty-free catalog and can be purchased using Mastercard or Visa.

One more reminder: if you’re outside and your mask gets undone, don’t run. Just lie on the ground and dial 120. Medical personnel with oxygen tanks will respond within minutes to assist you.

It’s been a pleasure having you on board, and we hope you enjoy your stay in Beijing.

6 thoughts on “Fly the smoggy skies

  1. Great post! You really capture something there. Your post makes me think of an article in the South China Morning Post about how Beijing’s pollution it ‘almost uninhabitable for human beings’ (
    I spend most of my time in Guangzhou where there is cadmium in the rice and where the pollution is only ‘unhealthy’ and has never reached (yet) the airpocalyptic standards of northern China.
    And my friends keep asking me why I live in China …

    • Thanks! I tried to poke a little fun at the situation, but for the people who have no choice but to live here it’s a pretty serious issue. I’m familiar with that SCMP article. I’ve lived in Beijing almost 4 years. It’s a fun city, but I don’t think I could live here long term because of the pollution. As for why China … I think it’s the jobs, right? I’m from the US and work in the media, and there are still a lot more opportunities here than back home. Anyway, thanks for reading my blog.

      Take care


  2. The summer camp I worked at was near a place called Carollton in Carol County. Not sure if you’ve ever heard of it. We went to Louisville quite a bit at weekends. Yes, It really is a beautiful state. I enjoyed my time there a lot. I am enjoying Beijing, apart from the infamous pollution of course. Otherwise it’s a lot of fun!

    • Yep, I’m familiar with it. I used to hang out in Louisville a lot. Cool city … it has some really nice artsy areas. Glad you’re enjoying Beijing. I hope you have a chance to travel while you’re here. I went to Dali in Yunnan province last year and highly recommend it.

  3. Well luckily we haven’t needed those pollution masks for the last couple of days. It would be a good idea if we really did all get provided with them when landing in Beijing though ha. Just saw on your ‘about me page’ that you worked in Kentucky. I have a lot of love for Kentucky after working at a summer camp there years ago! A bit different from Beijing… 🙂

    • I’m actually from northeastern Kentucky, a small town called Morehead. Kentucky is a very beautiful state. I’m glad you had a good time there. What city did you work in?

      I hope you’re enjoying Beijing.


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