Air Travel

Flying is fun, definitely, especially long distance flights. The recommendation is to be at the airport three hours in advance. So you do, facing many different challenges. First you need to find the place where you can drop your suitcase. Well, luckily those places are ordered by airlines. But then the fun starts. Some airlines force you to check in by using one of the check-in-machines there. How does this guy work? Try-and-error and after some time you’ve got your tickets printed out of this machine. But you are still having your suitcase. So you need to go to the counter to drop your package anyway. So why did I spend so many minutes talking to a machine then? If I have to go to a counter, the lady there just could have printed my tickets as well. Anyway, finally you got rid of your suitcase and saw it vanishing in the underground of the airport. Good bye suitcase, would be nice to see you again soon.

Next challenge, security check. There are many different approaches here. But in most of the cases you need to get rid of all your adherent belongings. The laptop has to be removed from the bag and scanned separately. You need to empty your pockets and to remove your belt. In some cases even your shoes, which results in a sweet smell in the entire security area. Then you’ll be scanned while walking through a funnily peeping frame. Last time I could keep my shoes on, but the frame decided that I need a closer body check. So the cute security girl stepped away and a big guy pushed me into a corner where he started to search weapons on me. And he searched everywhere. Finally I had to remove my shoes and he even checked the lower sides of my feet. Very funny. And then you need to hurry up to collect all your belongings, which have been scanned separately. Apropos scanning, the new full-body scanners are very interesting. There you need to step into a tube, lift your hands and then the scanner moves around you. This scanner makes you almost naked for the person in front of the monitor. Poor guy actually, I don’t wanna know what he has to watch all day long.

Finally, inside the security area. There are many shops, but mainly alcohol, chocolate or perfume. Some expensive watches and overpriced food. I try to get a coffee and free wireless and throw myself into one of the chairs. Reading becomes boring and after some minutes I do what everybody does here, watching people. That’s very interesting. Everyone is dealing with different issues or problems. Some are searching frantically for the right gate, some try to sleep and half of the crowd is busy staring into a smartphone.

Boarding, that’s the name of the process to get people into the plane. Different airlines have different approaches here, but first class passengers board first. And this is what they do, they swagger proudly towards the plane and make sure everybody can recognizes that they are first class passengers. Second round are the business class passengers, usually business men and usually stressed. But then the battle starts. There is already a long queue. Everybody wants to get in the plane, at the same time. The airlines try to order this approach, e.g. with boarding in groups pointing to the group number printed on your ticket. Others board depending on the seat rows. But whatever they do, nobody really cares and everybody tries to get in first. Especially people with huge hand luggage or two or three pieces of hand luggage. No idea why the airlines allow this, but they do. And it’s clear why those people want to get in first, since they need the space in the overhead lockers to deposit all that huge stuff. And all others? Well they want to get in before the huge-hand-luggage-people to find some empty space on the overhead lockers.

What a fun, the crowd drags you with them into the plane. And of course the overhead lockers are full already when you reach your seat and the owner of all this stuff is looking at you bored. And when he realizes that he has to get up to let you through to your seat, the bored facial expression changes into annoyance. Very nice. And then you realize the tragedy of the late check-in. The plane has for whatever reason a 2-5-2 seat arrangement, and know what, your seat is the one in the middle of the fiver group, jackpot. To make the experience complete there is a little child next to you which hammers at your entertainment screen. Positivity is a choice, so you keep smiling and just turn your head towards the other side. And there he comes, a 200kg boy, sweating like a monsoon rain and he is heading towards you. Of course he has the seat next to yours and of course he almost does not fit into that seat and swells over the armrest into your seat. No idea how he ever will be able to get out of this seat again. Luckily the human nose adapts to smell and after some time you do not smell it anymore, that intensively.

This middle seat is really annoying actually, because then the board service can come from both sides and you always have to watch which steward is currently talking to you, left or right. And due to the distance he does not understand you. There are two seats between you and him, not considering the mountain of guy in between or the permanently talking or crying kid. And yes, steward, male. The stewardess vanished to feed the first class passengers. However, lets focus on the entertainment system. Prehistoric of course, tiny screen, smartphone size, a handful of movies which start every 15 minutes and you have to wait or jump into a running movie. Obviously the kid broke something at your tiny monitor in front of you. The picture is flickering and switches into black and white at times. Anyway, there are 1-2 movies I haven’t seen yet. And what happens then? After one hour some issue with the player and the entertainment system tells me there’s something wrong and switches back to main menu. WTF, now I have to watch this one hour again to see the end. Well, since I don’t have other plans now (except moving the head of the sleeping 200kg guy back to his seat), I start the movie again. And know what, one hour later same problem. It becomes difficult to stay calm. But hey, there’s another movie, lets give this one  try. I ignore that this one doesn’t start at all and switch immediately to the third one. This one works … for approximately one hour!!! Then same issue, abort and back to main menu. Now I am angry enough to wake Mr 200kg to let me out for a walk to the restroom. I knew I should have taken my shoes with me, remembering the turbulence some time back.

I give up the movie business and switch to radio. I didn’t expect much and this was a good strategy, only one channel worked actually, called ‘easy listening’. So I listened easily until I got food. A tray full of plane food and I even had a choice, pasta or chicken. I want MEAT! Okay, chicken is close enough. And meanwhile I think the pilots do this on purpose. Exactly with the meal turbulence start again. The entire plane is shaking while I am trying to hit my mouth with the only tomato I found in the tiny salad. I was lucky that the plastic fork did not break while trying to spear the tomato. The bread has the consistence of a brick and the chicken surrounding vegetables the consistence of baby food. But hey, food. And luckily I can move at least my hands at my middle seat, well as long as the guy next to me doesn’t move. Meanwhile the kids started to throw peas at me. Live is wonderful.

10 hours later the pilot announces that we should please switch off all electronic devices since we need to do a landing with autopilot. There is a lot of fog down there and he can not see anything. Well the autopilot usually ensures a smooth landing. Not as the last time when the pilot threw the plane at the landing runway. But a little bit later we touch ground. The big guy next to me starts applauding and the little kid cries. But I don’t care, it’s over, almost. The usual announcement to stay seated until the plane reaches the gate and as usual some people get up nonetheless, hoping to be able to leave the plane before it docks at the gate. Then the seat belt sign switches off and suddenly everybody jumps off the seats, pulls out the hand luggage and then? Nothing. Stuck at the aisle like everybody else. Humans are a strange species actually. They know de-boarding can only happen one after the other, but well, maybe there’s a chance to be faster than others, who knows. Everybody wants to get out as fast as possible, to wait a little longer in the baggage claim area. And since I know my luggage comes out last there anyway, I am not in a hurry. Easy, I need some time to unfold my legs anyway. Not to speak from the countless approaches from the guy next to me to get out of his seat. And so what, I’ll spend two hours at the immigration anyway.

Travel is such an adventure, even today. Isn’t it?