Long haul: Economy all the way
Ian's Rural Ramblings
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.