Yellow stained clouds
Its August… the long drawn out days of summer and I am jealous of those going away to some far flung part of the world. I have nothing planned until we start heading back into the crisper colder months, summertime stillness for now. Whilst reading consider this post might just be an emotional lashing out, I can’t wait for the first leaf to fall this year.
I say, jealous of folks going away, but that’s not to the word true. I don’t like going to different places, I just crave being at different places. The trip’s relaxation doesn’t start until you can dump your stuff on the floor of a hotel room. Although at this point, I’ll add that using whatever public transport option available, to get from the airport to the city, is part of the fun…usually (Looking at you Cologne, Germany).
You would be hard pressed to find a blog or much else bestowing you with their delight of a flight to anywhere. Its all about the journey not the destination? No sir, when you travel you’d rather not have the journey. In perhaps one of the most pleasurable, enlightening and rewarding experiences we can do as humans on this planet. Its struck down by the curse of being sandwiched between an experience which irritates the mind and numbs the body, airports and those economy seats up in the skies.
It is possible to have comfortable travel, the option of first class is there, you know, if you can casually throw around a house deposit on a couple of tickets. If you can afford to do that, more power to you, enjoy it. However for many others, the only way is the economy way. Some of the short haul traveling me and the lady do, it’s all budget airline, let me walk you through the process of just the airport experience alone:
- Look at skyscanner for cheap flights to places we wanna see.
- Find one, lovely, always wanted to go there.
- Book the flight that leaves at 6am. Extra to pick seats together
- 6am. Christ
- Wake up at 2am
- Get to the airport for 4am
- How are there so many people here at 4am.
- Get to security
- Lady gets beeped at security
- Wait for the lady as she gets patted down. She always gets beeped at security.
- Maybe she’s on a watch list.
- I’m going to get put onto a watch list because of her.
- Get passed security, if there is time, eat away the watch list paranoia with breakfast.
- Get to the gate.
At this point, the budget airline of choice takes over, you all line up for boarding. Look at your fellow passengers, scan for loud creatures and babies, fingers crossed you aren’t sitting near them. Your boarding line moves a little bit down into the corridors, it will stop before you can actually get out to the tarmac, so you all are packed in there like pickles in a jar. At least you didn’t fork out on priority boarding!
Get on the plane, lodged into seating just with enough legroom for a fully grown hobbit. Just try to sleep through it, it’s a 2am start at least you can sleep! This effort is sabotaged by a constant flow of announcements for food, drink, scratch tickets, perfume, watches and end of the world prophecys. Alright, that last one might be a lie (might), but you get the point.
Hopefully you get a smooth landing and at that point you experience arguably one of the strongest desires of that human experience, up their with love and hate. The desire to get out of your flying can prison. In which, regardless of how long the time may be from landing to doors opening, that desire always makes it feel like a lifetime. On the flip side, the time you are most excited to see any country is when you are stuck on a plane in one of its airports. With those plastic doors flung open you are liberated from the clutches of doom! Or your errm, flight to be less theatrical about it.
All of that is a flight experience that assume no delays, cancellations or seat double sells.
Its not enjoyable, cattle class, dont even call it comfortable, the best you can hope for and what the likes of Ryanair or Easyjet aim for is tolerable. Only just, mind you. Its the modern battle of the skies, both combatants on the same plane, passengers v airlines, us verses them. It all started out so harmoniously, both sides wanted to make flights affordable. As time marched on and we lost each other in the fog of the skies.
In the current situation, we find airlines trying to squeeze every bit of wallet they can from each flight. Measure success by the passenger numbers and by the centermetires it takes to jam em all in, oh and oversell by a few seats too, that shouldn’t ever go wrong….
Fly or die
As passengers we currently have two things to do in response. Nothing and like it. Its not like other industries, restaurants for example, if you are put awfully close to another table and your service is awful, walk out and go to another place across the road. Its a weird dynamic, airline marketing presents a friendly service trying to make the flight as comfortable as possible. However both sides are quite aware of the unspoken reality; “Just be glad you are let on this thing and you get there”. Truth is, it’s them or no going away, unless you have time and money go by boat or car.
So what’s the future? Once again I ask you to consider to look at the food industry. In supermarkets it was all about a race to the bottom for the most bang for your buck, pound, euro, yen whatever your coin may be, in that regard it was similar to the airline industry. In more recent times food has been more about the quality, still cost sensitive, but we now desire a step above consumable crap, which is where airplane tickets for economy are currently at.
Admittedly a tub of organic yoghurt is slightly different to a plane ticket, but still, I hope the demand goes that way. Hopefully, future generations look back and will see how we were all crammed together and the occasional passenger was dragged off the plane. They will be as equally grossed out as we would be, looking back at 1800’s sea voyaging.
Despite not going this summer, it does give me a wry smile to see on the news the annual holiday airport delays and queues. First rule of travelling. Don’t go peak season.