"..a bardy view!"

Flight Night……

I've begun to develop the heeby jeebies about flying. Well it's not the flight actually, but the pre-flight nerves. They get worse every time. There was a time when you just turned up at the airport, joined the line and checked in. But it is all much more complicated nowadays, and not because of all the extra security.

Most flights these days are arranged on the internet. Which means pages of instructions and form filling, which are then followed by pages of emails acknowledging and confirming the booking. I never know what to print and what not to, and finding the e-ticket out of all the virtual paper is a confusing chore. Print the e-ticket, print the invoice, print the schedule, print the small print, print the fingerprints etc etc. I made the last bit up – but who knows, we already have biometric passports, and iris recognition could well be a built in requirement of online booking in the future. Somehow.

Anyway, 24 hours prior to departure will permit online check-in. Name (as exactly on passport), passport number, date of birth, gender, expiry date, (did you pack your bags yourself? Did anyone assist you?) And then you can reserve your seat. All of this is designed to facilitate a smooth passage.

And yet – still the luggage must be checked in and weighed, still you must join the queues, still, you must have your passport checked, and still you must prove who you are. Still you must have your hand carry luggage analysed and prodded and god forgive you if your dimensions exceed the overhead locker space.

As you progress you will be subject to personal body checks, have to remove your shoes and belts, open your laptop, and throw all metals into a plastic tray. No matter how many times I do that the alarms go off, and I never know why (and nor do the security staff either). I was so frustrated about this passing through Heathrow on one occasion that I just told them I had a pace maker. I'm sure they knew I hadn't, but I assume they were as frustrated as me.

Because of the threat of terrorism, it looks like things are going to get worse before they ever get better, and whilst I want to be comforted and snug on my flight, I question the rigmarole which begins from the moment the keyboard is hit.

There is nothing convenient about online bookings or check-in, especially when some airlines can charge silly money just for making a typo. Nor am I impressed by airlines who are generous (or otherwise) with baggage allowances, yet expect you to have an industrial digital weighing scale in your kitchen in order to ensure you keep to the limit. Excess baggage charges can be a great money spinner. The average being £35 for every extra kilo.

As a frequent flyer but not loyal to anyone, I object to the patronising and moral superiority of cabin crew. Many of whom shift between check-in staff and pretentious aisle walkers.There are some gems on board, but increasingly I find them less and less agreeable. Maybe I am equally so. Maybe they have made me this way.

However I am paying several hundreds of pounds for the privilege of their company for what seems like an equal number of hours, and I object to being treated like a sardine in trawler class, when just up front their are a half dozen business class passengers lauded and feigned over. I would like to remind these long-haul prima donnas (male or female) that it is I and the rest of the shoal which keeps them in their jobs and their airlines flying. I may not be the pilot, but he could not fly without me.Think about that next time you're at 30,000 ft.

Although it may be wise to tell him your thoughts after you've landed!


November 6, 2010 - Posted by | Culture, Current Affairs, Education, General, Travel, United Kingdom | , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. The Yanks are going mad about this at the moment if you would ever give Facebook a slight browse. Body searches and all the groping is against the fundamental rights of the constitution, apparently? No sir, no way is a loyal American a terrorist. The question is, where do you draw the line?


    Comment by Spook Moor | December 3, 2010 | Reply

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