I have to travel a lot in my job which means I have to fly a lot. I have never really liked flying and I admit it has always made me a bit nervous. But it is something I have to do so I live with it.
Most of my flights are fairly short flights around Europe, usually beginning or ending in the UK and seldom more than three or four hours long. Having said that, if you include the time spent in airports and the time of my onward journey, the total time of most of my trips is about eight to ten hours and they often start at some unearthly time of the morning.
Anyway, while waiting at the gate for a delayed flight the other day I came up with a list of the things I really hate about air travel. (Some a little more serious than others).
- Ryan Air. A few years ago I respected them for making cheap air travel in Europe possible, but by now I hate them with a passion. They don’t treat you as a human being at all. You spend more time standing in queues than actually flying. If your baggage is half an ounce over the measly 15kg limit you have to pay the pilots wages for the next month! Nobody on the flight crew speaks English which doesn’t bode confidence if they had to react to an emergency. They pack their planes with passengers as if they were sardines. Their airports are never actually in (or even close to) the city you are supposed to be flying to. The interiors of their planes are crampt and uncomfortable and are clearly designed more to house their advertising slogans than to house passengers. Occasionally my office still books flights with them because they are cheap, but left to my own devices I would never fly with them again.
- Airport Security. Okay it is a good thing and I appreciate that it has to happen; but isn’t there a way to speed up the process a bit. The UK is usually the worst place for queues and delays at security and immigration control and the situation could easily be improved by employing a few more people and keeping a few more lanes open.
- Airports with too many shops and not enough places to sit down and relax.
- Airports that make little or no provision for smokers. We are human too you know! And since everybody knows that air travel can be stressful would it really be so much trouble to have a few easily reachable, well ventilated areas where we could sit down and relax with a cigarette and a cup of tea (or something stronger)?
- People who aren’t organised to get to the gate on time. What gives? Do they realize that while everybody else on the plane is waiting for take off and they are loitering in duty free; the captain is having to have their bags taken off the plane in case they don’t show and make a new flight plan;- meaning that we are all going to be late?
- Parents who can’t control their kids. Listen I like children. I understand that sometimes babies will cry. What I hate is children who are loud and naughty for the whole flight, disturbing all the other passengers while their parents quietly pretend they don’t belong to them. I think there must be a special corner of hell reserved for such parents.
- People who try to put everything including the kitchen sink inside their carry on luggage and then look completely shocked when it is ten times over the weight and size limit. They always cause delays because of course their bags will never be allowed in the cabin… And if they were and their bag fell out of the locker and killed somebody during turbulence, would they care?
- Women who think they can get their overweight bags on-board if they flutter their false eyelashes and hitch their skirts up higher.
- Men who think they can get their overweight bags into the hold if they shout loudly at the assistant. Okay 8 & 9 sound a bit sexist but they can both be applied equally well to the opposite gender!
- Sudden turbulence.
- The smell of vomit that hangs in the air after a period of prolonged turbulence.
- Pilots who don’t tell us what is going on if things are getting a bit strange or uncomfortable.
- People who think it is “OH SO FUNNY!” to make loud jokes about terrorists, bombs and air-crashes. And you always know that they are the ones who are going to lose it first in an emergency.
- The gap between take-off and the first G&T hitting the back of my throat… Or perish the thought, flights with no Gin and Tonic or not even any wine! In which case drugs should be provided!