Long haul: Econ­omy all the way

Ian's Ru­ral Ram­blings

The McLeod River Post - - Points of View -

I guess I’m no reg­u­lar trav­eler but I have done the cross At­lantic flight dance eight times now in the last 11 years. I did it again re­cently but am in no hurry to do it again. In my book econ­omy sucks. How­ever, the re­al­ity is that mere pe­ons like my­self can rarely af­ford those ex­tras, like more legroom, bet­ter meals, a more com­fort­able seat and pref­er­en­tial ser­vice.

We flew from Calgary. Check­ing in was odd. We had to load our own bags on the con­veyor. Se­cu­rity was a con­fus­ing queu­ing af­fair with lit­tle in­for­ma­tion con­ducted by bad tem­pered staff. One lady told me I should turn right at the door, when I did an­other ac­costed me and told me I shouldn’t. OK, just a process I thought, I’ve done this be­fore.

Next, try­ing to make sense of pic­ture in­struc­tions. Take the lap­top out and put it in a tray. Good. Then hav­ing space there I put more stuff in the tray. Oh no. I’m in trou­ble again. The lap­top has to be by it­self. Well DUH, what am I? A mind reader.

Some peo­ple were tak­ing their shoes off. I was never asked to. Pre me­tal scan­ner my broad hunt­ing belt was ques­tioned un­til I said it was plas­tic the se­cu­rity lady mut­tered some­thing un­in­tel­li­gi­ble and scowled. I left my belt on and walked through the scan­ner for­get­ting to re­move my large me­tal watch. The scan­ner never peeped once.

I watched my carry on go through the scan­ner with in­ter­est. I’m on med­i­ca­tion so I du­ti­fully got three months sup­ply and packed the lot in my carry on along with the pre­scrip­tions. It must have shown up on the scan­ner. Yet ap­par­ently con­tain­ers of hun­dreds of tablets never raised an eye­brow with se­cu­rity. I was quite ready to show and tell. I had be­fore on pre­vi­ous oc­ca­sions.

I as­sem­ble my walk­ing life and pro­ceed to the de­par­ture gate. The air­line starts to call for pas­sen­gers that either have pri­or­ity or are med­i­cally frail. That’s nice I thought. Fif­teen min­utes later, not so nice, they were still stand­ing there. Some looked on the point of col­lapse by now. Even­tu­ally they board.

My turn comes and I board too. The Air­bus is pretty new but space is at a premium. I can barely walk down the aisle to my seat, which of course is on the aisle. The seat is cov­ered in cheap plas­tic and filled with poor qual­ity foam. To me it feels like I’m sit­ting on the road.

Through­out the nine hour flight ev­ery­one with­out ex­cep­tion barges my left shoul­der, in­clud­ing the me­tal serv­ing trol­lies. By the end of the flight my shoul­der is pretty sore. Oh and a stew­ardess poured boil­ing hot tea down my chest. Cou­ple that with ex­treme tur­bu­lence, not the air­line’s fault, scream­ing kids for nine hours and my rear end feel­ing it’s been beaten with an oar, I was less than happy and very tired when I reached the UK.

Head­ing for cus­toms with the rest of the vic­tims of the flight I was some­what sur­prised when the dou­ble se­cu­rity doors in the walk­way closed in my face. Even­tu­ally a mem­ber of staff showed up and punched in the codes and I was off again. I queued for bor­der con­trol. My pass­port was ex­am­ined by a very po­lite gen­tle­man who asked a few sim­ple ques­tion then said, “Wel­come home.” I felt ten feet tall.

Ian McInnes

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