Apart from the obvious environmental repercussions, the stress that can accompany airline travel makes me wonder why I persist. Not every flight is stressful but say, on average, 3/10 do mad things to my blood pressure and 1/10 makes me seriously consider never flying again.
There’s the queuing system – or the lack of it – or worse still, the complete disregard for it. I’ve travelled on planes to and from Hungary for too long now to still let this bother me. I have schooled myself to tolerate those who blatantly ignore the fact that others (perhaps in their stupidity) have been standing in line for 30 minutes waiting to board the plane, and just cut in, impervious to the looks of incredulation that turn to muted anger and often end up in loud declamations of ‘The nerve of some people!’ All ignored with an aplomb that varies by nation.
On a recent flight to Georgia, however, it bordered on the ridiculous. The flight leaves at 23.55 pm on a Friday night. Ours was one of two flights still to depart. The airport was empty. People lolled around in seeming indifference. All very relaxed. And then came the boarding call. We were on time and wondering where everyone was. It seemed like we would have the plane to ourselves – or as good as. And then they came, in their droves, pushing their way to the front without so much as a by your leave. The priority doors opened and we went outside. For a brief moment, I was first and then the group broke around me, pressed to the cordon, like horses in a starting box waiting for the starter’s cry: And they’re off. The attendant knew enough to stand back quickly lest he get caught in the stampede.
I check baggage allowances. I’ve fallen victim too often to the vagaries of airport personnel. I make sure I’m on target. One piece. 15.6 kg max. And if I need more, I pay for it. When the minimum luggage allowance is ignored on some flights and strictly enforced on others, I wonder how many prozac prescriptions could be laid at the door of the likes of WizzAir. Some had three and four bags and not an eyelid was batted. One girl had to have help carrying one of hers, it was that heavy.
I pay for an aisle seat with extra leg room. I pay money. Good money. And when I’m asked to move because the airline sold the window seat in the emergency row to someone who didn’t meet their criteria to sit in that seat … my blood pressure rockets. Why should poor planning on their part constitute inconvenience on mine?
The return flight was worse. Kutaisi airport has been open just six years and has yet to master the basic pleasantries of airline travel.
- If a flight is delayed two hours, tell the people why. Consider doing the same even if it’s only delayed an hour.
- If you don’t accept pdf boarding passes, tell your passengers that they have to queue up at check-in even if they are not checking in bags.
- If you have people being battered and pummeled in the queue, stick in a few ropes. Ropes work.
It was bedlam. Bedlam. Absolutely NO regard at all for common courtesy. It was every man or woman for themself. Anger that has been a stranger for years returned with a vengence. I could have swung for the woman behind me – and the one to the side of me – and the one in front of me.
Queuing for security, you had to completely finish and go through the metal detector before I could even approach the desk. So we had two queues – the queue for security and the queue for the queue for security. Madness. [Aside: the new system at Dublin airport, with its four bucket stations is great.]
On the plane, the same havoc ensued. Some with seats up front, boarded through the rear cabin door, causing major traffic jams. I put this down to them being infrequent flyers. Bags were being piled in the overhead bins anywhich way. Again, perhaps they knew no better. Annoying but it can happen. What cannot be excused is the complete ignorance and lack of common courtesy shown when attempting to retrieve bags from the overhead bins. They simply would not move so I could reach over. All they had to do was to step back into their seat for less than 10 seconds – but no. They stared blankly ahead in muted defiance to the point where exasperation gave way and I screamed: ‘You are the rudest women I have met in years.’ Not loud loud, but with enough projection to blow them back a few paces and let me in to get my bag.
That return flight to Georgia ranks right up there on my WORST ever flight with WizzAir, knocking a trip to Venice some years ago from the top stop.
So what’s to be grateful about, you wonder? Well the flight was going to Kutaisi, Georgia. An absolutely stunning place, with lovely people (who have yet to be corrupted by air travel or perhaps have mastered the niceties thereof), fabulous food, and a wealth of new experiences. More on all that this week.