I recently had to be somewhere else in a hurry, and the only way of achieving that is, of course, by flying. It’s been a while since I had to travel by aeroplane, and I had forgotten just how dreadful an experience it is.
First one must face the ritual humiliation of “security” where in addition to having your possessions inspected by a clueless but officious 12-year old you have to submit to various personal indignities including stepping into a little booth which transmits an image of you, naked, to someone in an unseen room.
This is harmless enough, but I resent not being able to enjoy the look of pity and disgust on the operator’s face when my image appears on the little screen. I’ve seen myself naked – accidentally of course – and it’s not something you’d want to do immediately after lunch. If you refuse to be pictured nude you are subjected to a sort of organized fondling, something I enjoy much more when I’m paying for it.
The point of this all is… no, it’s totally pointless. It’s play-acting, the mere illusion of safety. For example, no part of the process searches body cavities (thank God) so any determined terrorist could simply shove some Semtex up his bottom, board the plane, eat some of the dreadfully indigestible airline food, wait half an hour then head to the washroom with a cigarette lighter: Job done (if you’ll pardon the expression.)
Having had your toiletries confiscated, you are herded into a communal waiting area wherein you are expected to loiter for at least twice as long as your flight. The seats are small, hard and uncomfortable, which is deliberate of course; it prepares you for the sheer agony of what is to follow.
Eventually you line up to board, whence begins your final humiliation. The important business-class people are allowed to get on first, in case we leave without them. The rest of us plebs are then forced to walk through a business-class cabin filled with sneering one-percenters smugly sipping gins and tonic from real glasses. Personally I always try to express my disapproval of this flagrant unfairness by stealthily passing wind as I move among the chosen few, something I believe some cabin crew refer to as “crop dusting.”
I’m not sure what the statistical probability is of being seated next to a snoring fat person or a screaming child, but it seems to happen to me every time. Can we not group these annoyances together at the very back of the plane? Behind some sort of sound-proof partition?
Better still, here’s an idea that would make flying tolerable for all of us: anaesthesia. When I arrive at the airport, put me in a chair and knock me out. “Security” can perform all the abominations it likes upon my sleeping person, even probing me for hidden toothpaste if that’s important. Wheel me onto the plane. Stack me, I don’t care. Let the snorers snore, the kiddies scream. At the other end, cart me off, put me into another comfortable chair and give me something to wake me up.
One of those gins and tonic from business class will do.
— Grumpy Old Git is the old guy kicking your seat in economy class.