Last week’s holiday was the first time I flew anywhere since February 2004, which means the first time since all the new security restrictions were imposed.Â I had forgotten just what a joyless experience flying has become now.Of course I was spoiled for a while, going away maybe twenty times a year for a few years in a previous job and with so many scheduled flights you are bound to get the odd half-empty plane.Â I can remember actively enjoying some flights whether it was looking down on the lights of London while listening to Comfortably Numb on a walkman or being able to see through the cockpit door and through the front windows while the plane was banking.Â I really like all that.
Sometimes I would turn up at the airport 10 minutes before a flight was due to take off and have to rush through the terminal to catch it, although that was down to the Piccadilly Line rather than through choice.
Now you have to be there at least two hours before the flight to check in, effectively adding 90 minutes to a journey.
This time around the whole trip was a pain. Literally.Â I don’t think that anyone at the airport or on the plane did anything wrong, its just the way it was.Â Â Almost as soon as I sat in the seat I had a stiff neck, and knew it was not going to get any better after two-and-half-hours sitting there.Â I had an aisle seat, which did not help either.Â With such narrow aisles everybody who goes past nudges you, and the staff are backwards and forwards all the time.
Jayne had it even worse.Â She was in the aisle seat opposite me and had a couple of incontinents sitting next to her so she had to keep getting up to let them out.Â Charlie really drew the short straw coming home: he ended up next to a screaming baby.
Fortunately I wasn’t interested in watching the in-flight movies.Â I think I would have been very frustrated if I had.Â The films were shown on screens hanging from the centre of the aisles.Â Every so often the film would freezeÂ whenever there was an announcement to be made.Â When it came to meal time the trolley was parked by our seats while the crew dished out meals: had I been trying to watch the film, I would have been unable to see it for about fifteen minutes.
All in all the flight is now something to be endured rather than enjoyed.Â I’m certainly thinking that my next holiday is going to be either in Britain or via a ferry or the Eurostar.Â Â The ironic thing is that so many people still see air travel as a luxury, when it is no better than any other form of public transport.
The only upside was that the new futile security restrictions (futile because they only address the last terrorist attempt – not the next one) do mean a more stringent approach to hand luggage.Â Even when I was only going somewhere overnight I would check a bag in with everything in it so I could travel very light.Â Meanwhile anybody else going overnight was trying to carry everything on the plane with them.Â They were coming on with suit carriers, suitcases, all to save a few minutes by not having to go to baggage reclaim.Â It meant that I could hardly find room to put my coat in the storage because it would be full of luggage…