Posts Tagged ‘hand luggage’

I know people who love flying. They even get to the airport extra early to soak up the air-conditioned atmosphere.  How anyone can enjoy partially undressing in public and stuffing all 51DnwMhVBqL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU02_[1]their possessions into a plastic tray to be filtered through an x-ray machine while being frisked by surly ground crew is beyond me.  Once through this ritual humiliation it’s time to mill around a glitzy designer shopping mall looking at merchandise you are never going to buy, avoiding hundreds of other displaced persons with wheeled cabin baggage, the size of which is a contentious issue when you get to the boarding gate. Once there, you’re fixed with an icy stare from mission control who tells you smugly that your miniscule handbag, worn slung across your body, counts as a piece of hand luggage and  must be put  inside your case. A mental note is made to ensure that on the return journey, however hot the temperature at the foreign airport, you will wear your Pac-a-Mac with pockets jammed full of handbag essentials.

Once on board and the scramble for seats established, it’s entertainment time in the form of the safety procedure run through. The phrases, “In the unlikely event of the plane landing on water” and “do not inflate your life-jacket until outside the aircraft” never fail to amuse. The first, assuming the plane makes it across the channel and is not travelling further than the south coast of mainland Europe, displays either blind optimism or complete ignorance of the geographical features below. The second presents the comedic image of a plane load of passengers wearing inflated life-jackets bobbing into each other like crazed particles at a Michelin Man convention.

The only advantage to being claustrophobically encased in the body of a jet aircraft is that it allows you to read solidly for a couple of hours during the day without feeling the least bit guilty. It also forces you to read the book you’ve decided to take on your travels, which, after the first few chapters you realise that were you at home you would have chucked in the recycling and opted for something else.

While struggling to keep focussed on the less than enthralling “thriller of the year” William, aged around two, sitting behind with his two siblings, continually kicks your seat, or, when not doing that, he’s standing on his fold-down table, wiping sticky fingers on your paper headrest while his oblivious parents are sitting on the opposite side of the aisle knocking back their duty free gin and tonics.

The two protagonists in the book you are reading, who alternate chapters and are both despicable, unreliable narrators, are beginning to make you lose the will to live when that numbing blocking-of-the-ears sensation lets you know that the descent has begun and there will soon be an end to this misery. This is when the seats you have chosen for their proximity to the front exit, thereby ensuring first in line at the car hire queue, prove futile as the doors refuse to operate and you are forced to leave the plane by the rear exit.

Eventually beyond passport control, the words “bienvenue, monsieur, madame; we’d like to upgrade your car today, free of charge,” are music to your still throbbing ears.

Having a wonderful time – wish you were here…

Picture: Usborne Books

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