Musings of a Reluctant Traveller
It is said that it is better to travel than to arrive, to which I say,
As I sit and look out of the window of a tube travelling through the air at over 500mph at a height of over 36,000 feet with 250 other ‘souls’ I’ve got to thinking about how daft holidays really are.
To start with I made a promise to my family that this year, 2014 I’d spend more time and attention on them and our friends who like many others with their family and friends say “we must get our diaries together” and then don’t.
I always vowed having been in the Royal Navy for over 22 years that I’d never go on a cruise but with this being a big birthday year for me and Liz I relented and agreed to go.
The problem is I don’t like flying.
Not that I’m scared but simply because I find any that any flight that last longer than 3 hours drives me ballistic so the thought of 8 hours on a plane was something I faced with dread.
In fact the whole business of going on holiday and the faffing about just to get to a destination turns me into a grump.
Let’s start with the first problem, who is going to look after the house and more importantly Barney the dog.
It’s a question that in the past has resolved the problem of going away because there wasn’t anyone and I didn’t want to put Barney in kennels.
Could I use it again?
Not a hope, Liz had already lined our daughter up to move into the house.
Talk about taking sides.
Now I know who her favourite parent is.
Of course the next hurdle was how much luggage can you take with you and at 23kg or 50lb each in the proper Imperial Weight system I thought would be ample.
How wrong could I be, arguments raged on what was essential and without meaning to be in any way sexist just how many pairs of shoes, shorts, tops and dresses do you need for a fortnight away?
As always we reached a compromise, Liz packed everything she wanted to take, we weighed the suitcases and I then made up the difference.
It may to some not be a compromise based on equality but I take the view that it was one based on 32 years of experience together.
I’ll skip the fact that for a flight at 0930 we had to get up at 0430, drive to Birmingham, park the car, get on a coach to the airport to be there three hours,
Three bloody hours before the flight!!! to book in.
I said I’ll skip it because the pain is too great, but it brings me neatly to booking in, and especially our luggage.
Now I have no problem with staff that after all are only doing their job, but for pity’s sake.
One ounce over the 50lb limit and you would have thought that we’d declared war, the fact that the combined weight of two suitcases was less than the 100lb limit is dismissed so you have the ridiculous situation of people having to move stuff between their cases to ‘even them out’.
What is the issue, at 187lb I wasn’t classified as too heavy to get on the plane, and certainly looking at some of the passengers who were clearly obese and nearly twice my weight why weren’t they threatened with being charged for excess baggage?
In the interest of fairness and why weren’t those who were smaller and lighter than me given a discount?
Which brings me to the whole issue of hand luggage at 11lb each which has to be one of the most ridiculous things ever?
First of all the size of the hand baggage has to be proven to be the correct size by placing it in a specially designed rack and then it has to be weighed and heaven help you if it is over.
So here is my solution,
Take out anything that puts the hand luggage above the 11lb limit and carry it or put it in your pocket until after the bag is weighed then you put it all back in the bag?
It is farcical because even if your hand luggage is under 11lb as soon as you get through security to the duty-free shop you can buy as much as you can carry, which is exactly what Liz did: I’m not sure if it was all needed or just a show of defiance.
As for the bag measuring rack, why not make one for people and if they are ‘oversize’ charge them extra or let the other ‘undersize’ passengers carry the equivalent difference in luggage allowance.
I’m now 5 hours into the ‘HOLIDAY’ and we’re still in the bloody airport in Birmingham.
THAT’S NOT A HOLIDAY, IT’S A PUNISHMENT
If there is one thing guaranteed to drive me over the edge it is having endured the faffing about and eventually boarding the plane we then have to wait for the ‘latecomers’.
Message to all those who run airlines,
DON’T BLOODY WAIT,
If people are willing to pay to go on holiday, and let’s face it, it isn’t cheap; if they are willing to arrive at the airport three hours early then it’s their fault if they miss the plane.
Would they expect a train or bus to wait for them?
It is now 0950, twenty minutes late the nose of the aircraft lifts into the air and whoopee we’re off so that is that then eight hours of boredom (except for this blog) and tranquillity as we benefit from the work of the inventors of air travel and gas propulsion.
Note to PILOT.
Just after we got airborne you came on the speaker system and introduced yourself by saying,
“Good morning and welcome aboard this is captain xxxx. We will be flying at about 36,000 feet crossing Cornwall and then into the Atlantic”
First thing, Captains are in charge of ships that sail on the sea, you are not the captain you are the pilot.
Second thing, “and then into the Atlantic”
NO, NO, NO and BLOODY HELL FIRE
We want you to stay as far above the Atlantic as possible for the next 8 hours.
We’re going on a cruise, that’s a ship that sails on the sea,
You are a pilot of an aircraft,
Stay out of the sea and in or above the clouds please.
The possibility of tranquillity has of course been destroyed by the family who have brought their young children with them.
Now I have no problem with children and recognise that 8 hours on a plane, with nowhere to escape too is going to lead to problems for them unless that is they are either anesthetized or put in the hold.
Eight house with young kids asking “why” what’s that” is nothing short of purgatory, it’s bad enough with Liz asking “are we there yet” and add to that a baby who seems to be constantly crying and in need of their nappy changing and I’m considering stepping outside, 36,000 feet or not.
I should add at this point that this is being written in ‘real time’ and it is now 1530 hrs. UK time so we’ve been on HOLIDAY for 11 hours with still another three and a half hours before we reach our destination.
I told you I’m a travelling grump and now it has just been compounded by of all things a cup of coffee.
I expect, and by the way I’m on a Thomson Flight, as we all do in the modern-day to have to buy a cup of coffee which isn’t a problem usually and anyway I needed a caffeine fix.
The problem is Thomson has a franchise, or I presume it is a franchise/partnership agreement with Starbucks.
Yes Starbucks who don’t pay the tax they should in the UK and who on a matter of dogged principle I refuse to go to at home.
What is even worse is that they claim on thief (sorry ‘their’) cups and in the In Flight, (Pilot take note IN FLIGHT) magazine that the coffee is made with 100% Arabica beans from Columbia that have been ‘ethically’ sourced?
Now and it is only my opinion but ‘Starbuck’s and ‘ethically’ are two words that don’t seem to sit easily together, plus,
Ethically sourced in Columbia!!!!!
As Jim would say “Ethically sourced my a**s”
Pay your bloody taxes I’ve just paid £2.60 for a cup of your coffee.
How grumpy can you get on 8 hour flight?
Well there is only another 2 hours until we reach Barbados and if I don’t complete this and on the news there is an unexplained air crash it will be down to either,
The pilot was true to his word “into the Atlantic”, or
I have experienced unexplained internal self-combustion and taken the plane with me.
A meal is about to be served so time for a break methinks?
OK Flight meal over and just to show I’m paying attention they gave us a carton of still water from ‘thirsty planet’ which had the slogan YOU HYDRATE, WE DONATE followed by
“This cup of still water has helped to donate over £1.5 million to Pump Aid, helping to build over 8,000 water pumps in rural Africa”
What a great initiative.
Just one curious question, it says on the carton Best Before 10th September 2014, but even more curious is the accuracy of the Best Before. 09.41?
What happens to it at 09.42?
Whew, the pilot has just announced that there is 1 hour to touchdown in Bridgetown which of course means that all of the usually stoical and polite Brits are shuffling about in preparation for the stampede to get their hand luggage and be first off the plane.
Why do people rush like mad to get into a queue?
and is it only the Brits that do it?
We are now coming in to land and throughout my musings, some may call it a rant, you may well ask where Liz has been during the flight.
Simple, she has either been asleep, reading her book or complaining that I’m a grumpy bar steward,
at least I think she called be a bar steward I couldn’t hear through the deafening sound of blood pounding in my ears.
This has been written on Saturday 4th January 2014 and will be published on Sunday 5th January 2014 providing I get through Barbados customs alright.
NOTE FROM LIZ.
Mr Grump’s grumpiness’ magically disappeared about the same time as his second ocean-going gin and tonic.