If you've ever heard the words 'Jim Wilson' while travelling on a plane, you might be surprised to know that the speaker wasn't referring to a passenger.
Unless, of course, your name actually happens to be Jim Wilson, in which case they were probably just referring to you. For the most part, though, when there are no real Jim Wilsons on board, those two words apparently have a much more significant meaning.
The name is thought to have come from a manufacturer of air trays - a special container specifically designed to protect and hold dead bodies during transport. In case you can't see where this is going, just bear with me.
It seems the manufacturer of these trays inspired airline staff when it came to coming up with a secret way to referring to the fact that there is a dead body on board; so much so that American Airlines dubbed its dedicated help desk for funeral homes the 'American Airlines Jim Wilson Service', according to US Funerals Online.
The site explains that where Delta had the 'Delta Cargo ‘Delta Cares’ service & Fallen Soldier Program' and Southwest had 'Southwest Airlines Cargo', American Airlines had the 'American Airlines Jim Wilson Service: Dedicated help desk for funeral homes, offering scheduled service to 250 cities in 40 countries, special ramps at larger AA Cargo facilities & shorter drop off times.'
One passenger spotted a 'Jim Wilson' in action back in 2005, when they wrote on the website FlyerTalk that American Airlines ramp workers loaded a 6'x3'x2' white cardboard box with the AA logo on it that said 'Jim Wilson Air Tray' on all sides in print (as opposed to handwriting).
They continued: "Now I'm pretty sure I know what was inside, but is that the entire title of the thing, or is that the name of the unfortunate cargo hold passenger? Seems like an expense to actually have the name machine-printed onto the box..."
American Airlines regularly transports dead bodies in the cargo of the plane. Each of these bodies is called "Jim Wilson" by flight crews.— Facts In Your Face (@FactsInYourFace) March 2, 2013
It's unclear whether the Jim Wilson service is still in action at AA, as the airline's website now appears to refer to the service under the name "TLC".
The site explains: "Suffering the loss of a loved one is one of the most difficult and trying times in life. You can rest assured that we are serious about the care and sensitivity of transporting departed loved ones to their final resting place. Our TLC specialists are available 24/7 to work directly with funeral homes and mortuaries, and to assist with the advance arrangements required to ship your loved ones."
Hopefully you'll never hear the words Jim Wilson on your flight - again, unless that is your name - but at least now you know what you're dealing with if you do!
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
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