I thought I would bring a little light heartedness to these pages and take the opportunity to entertain you with my grumpy old man persona. Over the next few paragraphs I’m going to get a few things off of my chest in relation to the frustrations I have with the process of air travel, or to state it more accurately, some of the people one encounters as a part of this process.
People fascinate me generally. I’m often left with the feeling that hardly anyone seems to know how to behave appropriately in public. Nowhere is this feeling more intense than at the airport and then on the plane. We are thrust into close proximity with hundreds of strangers for hours on end, often requiring cooperation with one another to achieve mutually desired goals. For intelligent, moral beings this ought to be an easy, pain free exercise. If only!
Now listen carefully – it’s the same every time. You will be required to put your liquids (no more than 100ml per bottle) into a transparent plastic bag and place it outside of your carry-on luggage. Please prepare the bag before you enter the security line and have it to hand when you reach the front of the queue.
You will also have to empty your pockets of all their contents and place the items in a separate tray on the security conveyor belt. My recommendation here is to avoid this altogether. There are no shops in the security line, so you do not need your credit cards or cash, and you do not need to show your passport or boarding pass. You definitely don’t need to make or take a phone call! So I suggest keeping one of the side compartments of your carry-on luggage empty when doing your packing. Then, before you enter the security line, you can empty your pockets into this side panel and return the items to your pockets when you come out the other side.
Finally, laptops will need to be removed from bags and placed in a separate tray. I don’t expect you to hold your laptop whilst queuing, but at least be aware that you will need to access it when your turn arrives – so make sure you can do so quickly.
If these suggestions I make are adhered to, no one should take more than 30 seconds to clear security, random searches aside. However, almost everyone who reaches the front of the line seems to respond as though the whole scenario is a total shock to them. Much rummaging and panic ensues. Three or four minutes pass. The will to live begins to drain from me as I look on. Believe it or not, I would much rather be sat in departures with a coffee and a newspaper than standing in line, holding my bag, whilst I watch the contents of your bag spill all over terminal one. Please prepare. It’s the same every time.
I’m 6’5” (that’s about 194 centimetres in new money). I can’t fit into economy seats without suffering great pain. So on a long haul flight, if I am not lucky enough to get an exit seat, I will have no choice but to extend my pins into the aisle. When you are walking down the aisles, please take a little look where you are going. This is good advice generally, even outside of an aeroplane environment, but definitely when you are on a plane with me, please take care not to kick my shins whilst I’m sleeping.
The Exit Seat Window
This window does not suddenly become a public free-for-all just because there is not a seat in front of it. If it is dawn or dusk, and the cabin is in ‘night mode’ so that passengers can sleep, please do not enter the exit seat window area and open the window shutter so that bright light suddenly shines directly onto me and wakes me up. This is the exact equivalent of me leaning across you in your regular seat and opening your shutter. You know this would be outrageous. It is also outrageous to do it in an exit seat area.
Reclining Your Seat
To be honest, whilst the general public ought to be able to navigate this without assistance, airlines could easily solve the problem by simply removing the ability to recline. There is absolutely no need to do it and it is so rude and inconsiderate that words (almost) fail me. Anyone who reclines their seat is either stupid or selfish because they either do not realise they are crushing the person behind them or they simply don’t care. I once witnessed a very amusing response to such a person and I want to recommend it as action to be taken by anyone who should fall victim to a seat recliner. Essentially a lady was visibly (at least to me – the people watcher) distressed at being crushed by the man in front of her who had taken his seat the whole way back. She couldn’t even bring down her tray to place her drink and book on. Her response was possibly inspired, certainly assisted by the fact that the guy suffered from male pattern baldness but it would work even if that wasn’t the case. Being as it was, his balding crown was basically right under her nose. I watched with glee as she ever so gently began blowing into the middle of his bald patch. This went on intermittently for a couple of hours. The man was relentlessly swatting his head as though he thought an insect was crawling on him and then looking up at the air con unit and adjusting it, thinking a draft was the cause of his irritation. Genius! What a brilliant and harmless way to fight back!