I’m old enough to remember when flying had a faintly glamorous air about it. Going to the airport was a novelty, primarily because you could spend so much time browsing around, taking in the whole slightly surreal “international zone” air of the place. As Billy Connolly once pointed out, there was a time when people actually dressed up to fly.
Flying to and from Stanstead last week was not glamorous. Ryanair do what they say they do: They’re normally cheap and they get you there, but it is an unpleasant experience. For the right to actually book your seat, and not get into a fight over trying to get your bag into the locker, I’m willing to pay extra, which I do with Aer Lingus normally. It saves me the hassle of queuing forever so that I don’t get a middle seat, which I hate.
This flight was particularly awful, although not Ryanair’s fault, in fairness. I ended up behind a group of surly teenagers (20 odd in number) who were so self-obsessed that they kept forgetting that they were in a queue, and stood talking to each other as the queue moved on very significantly. After the third incident, I just walked around them, much to their disbelief. One of the benefits of having a beard, I find, is that it, accompanied with a cold glare, tends to intimidate people. Which is handy in situations like this. When we reach the security check, I watched as they got savaged by security staff for a) taking pictures of the security area, b) not being actually ready (they don’t have their liquids and stuff in bags) and c) getting teenage surly with the staff, which is the airport equivlent of picking a fight with the bouncers. Always a loser.
I get to the gate, just in time to see the woman in the queue behind me get into an argument with the flight attendent as to why she has to show her boarding pass to get on the plane (?) and also to watch a group of people with enormous bags argue with the staff as to why they should pay for them whilst one of their number (I’m not making this up) physically beats his bag (with his fist) into the metal frame thing they use to determine bag sizes, and then gets into what can best be described as a fight with the frame to get his bag out of it again, having wedged it in. All as the Ryanair hostess calmly tells him that he has to pay for the bag. The group, by the way, insist on standing around him watching, blocking access to the plane for everyone else until the Ryanair people order them out of the way.
Glamorous it ain’t.