The hardest thing I find about planning a holiday is having the wherewithal to actually go online and book a flight. I think my procrastination is due to the dislike I have of flying itself.
Not because I fear the plane falling from the sky or being propelled through the stratosphere in a machine that’s fashioned from little more than tin-foil and plastic. A flying cigar case as it were.
No, it’s the tedium of having to face the rigmarole of airport security and deal with with the ever increasing numbers of the ‘great unwashed’ who use air travel as their preferred means of transport.
I make no apologies to those whose sensibilities are so refined they find the above statement offensive. Instead, I would invite them to cast a discerning eye over the vulgarity that is fast becoming the majority of the airborne public.
Once on a flight out of Singapore, I sat next to a young man wearing board shorts, rubber thongs and a T-Shirt. “What’s wrong with that?” I hear you ask. After all, it was 32 degrees outside and with the humidity at a debilitating 90%, why would he wear anything else?
Our destination just happened to be Amsterdam. And when I consulted my iPhone for an update on the weather expected for our arrival, it said we were to anticipate a balmy minus 1 degree! We were flying into a brutal European winter.
When I drew his attention to the shocking disparity between his mode of dress and the alarmingly inadequate protection it offered against the vagaries of a freezing Dutch winter, his response can be only described as brave, if not, in my opinion, foolhardy.
“She’ll be fine mate. If it’s brass monkey weather, I’ll just chuck on the wet suit,“ he boldly proclaimed. The broad flattened vowels revealing he obviously “still calls Australia home.” I’m confused and having no suitable riposte, nor indeed any clear idea how a wet suit would help with his dilemma. Perhaps used as a pair of long-johns. I smile apologetically and seek refuge in my book.
While I’m prepared to overlook inappropriate dress – although it has to be said, boarding an international flight wearing apparel more seemly for the beach is quite discombobulating – I can’t employ an equal sans souci approach towards personal hygiene.
The reality of modern air travel is it’s relatively inexpensive and as a consequence, the airlines pack us in as one would sardines in a can. More often than not, you’re sharing a space with a perfect stranger in proximity more intimate than if you were sharing a bed with them!
And if that person is less than particular regards personal hygiene, you find an already uncomfortable situation made so much worse by the presence of acrid and pervasive body odour. Should anybody begin a journey already ‘on the nose’, you can imagine how hellish it is for the poor soul seated next to them during an extended twelve hour flight.
My friend Hebe is quite dismissive of such niceties. “Darling, the solution is obvious. Travel first class“. This magniloquent observation from Hebe quite puts my teeth on edge. In fact, it makes me so angry my cheeks hurt.
But before I can present a compelling argument, Hebe is quick to deflect any boring bleatings about affordability, by interjecting with the helpful suggestion, “Just take a sleeping tablet, perhaps two, with a vodka soda. In ten minutes you’ll be out like a light.”
I protest: “I can’t do that! You know how alcohol and barbiturates cause me to snore. So explosive is my breathing, I would disturb the entire cabin.”
“Darling, if you’re travelling companions are, as you say, smelly, badly dressed vulgarities, I suspect they shouldn’t mind in the least!”.
There are few occasions when Hebe’s teases don’t elicit a laugh and while I appreciate the joke I can’t help but feel a trifle envious at her expectation that one ought to travel First Class or not at all.
I, of course, can’t entertain such lofty ideals, for to do so would mean always having to stay at home.
So for me at least, the excitement of contemplating an overseas travel is always tempered by the awfulness of using air travel as the modus operandi to arrive at my holiday destination.
- Air Travel Etiquette, What Happen to the Good Old Days? (plananevent.org)