I recently had the pleasure of spending a few days in London with my girlfriend and our friend, and it got me thinking about the whole airport and flying process. Here is my official(-ish) guide to flying.
Ah, the airport. Thousands of people from all around the world, speaking exotic languages, wearing different clothes, all sharing the same experience: being annoyed at the airport. It really is a nice reminder of our shared humanity and how alike we all are that nearly every person at the airport looks as tired, frustrated, and miserable as the rest of us. If you ever want to feel like you’re not alone in the world, sit in an airport for a couple hours.
But why is everyone tired and annoyed? Well, it may just be due to the fact that for some reason you are told to arrive two hours before your flight, even though you never need that long. Which means that, if you’re like me and need to take a two hour bus to get to the airport, a 7:00am flight actually means getting up at 3:00am. Tell me the last time you’ve gotten up at three in the morning and been a ray of sunshine and bunnies.
Airport security. I dislike airport security for mainly one reason: belts. Yes fine, I’ll remove my phone and change and artificial hip, but forcing me to take off my belt, walk with slightly loose trousers for two minutes, and then put it back on? Madness.
Walking to the gate. There are few things in life purer than the smug joy you feel as you watch the people who chose not to use the travelators. Look at you – that’s right, use your legs, peasants. Conversely, there are few things more annoying than seeing the travelator is full of people and deciding that simply walking will be quicker, only to realise your life is a series of failures as you are left behind and the Wise Ones ™ look on triumphantly.
Waiting for takeoff. You know that annoying period of time between getting on the plane and taking off? God that is just the worst. Damn safety precautions. How dare they make sure I won’t die. Maybe I want to die, they never thought of that, did they. Besides, it gets to a certain point where I’d rather take the risk than spend another minute sitting on the ground. Usually after about ten minutes.
Airplane mode. Planes are marvels of engineering and science. It really is amazing how we have figured out how to levitate an immensely heavy tin can full of people, reaching incredible speeds, but if you receive a dick pic on Snapchat it will cause it to drop out of the air. Thanks, uncle Jack.
The safety demonstration. I love the safety demonstration purely because the air hostesses always look like they hope the plane will crash and kill us all so that they never have to give another one of these demos again.
Urinating at 30,000 feet. The first plane was invented more than 60 years ago, and since then they have only been improved upon, every iteration being more advanced than the last. Yet in all this time, they still haven’t figured out how to keep the bathroom’s “occupied” lights in working order. Nothing like waiting for half an hour for whoever is taking so long in there, knocking on the door to find out if they’ve flushed themselves out of the plane, and discovering no one was ever in there and the light was simply broken.
The trolley walk. If you are one of the unlucky ones, you’ll leave the bathroom to find the food trolley slowly making its way down the aisle between you and your seat. There is nothing you can do but waddle behind, one of the rare instances of an actual flying penguin. And of course the air hostess must stop and ask every single person if they want anything. All you can do is pray that most people have the sense not to pay for airline food. Four euro for some Pringles? No thanks.
Turbulence. I love turbulence. I know a lot of people reading this may think I’m insane for that, but I do. It’s just so exhilarating. It’s like during a storm when you hear and feel the rumbling of thunder. Besides, if the plane were to actually crash, there’s nothing to be done, and it will be a pretty definitive death, so no point in worrying about it. (You’re welcome, anyone with a fear of flying.)
The view from up there. There is something that stirs deep in the soul when you are up there among the clouds. It’s an entirely new world. It’s like a fluffy, magical kingdom, high above your entire life. Maybe it’s how much of a testament it is to human ingenuity and perseverance, maybe it’s the fact that from up there you realise just how small everything is in the grand scheme of things, or maybe it’s the simple fact of looking down and seeing something which by all rights should be up. It’s incredible and humbling that for the price of a few pints, you can have the privilege of visiting this place.
Returning to Ireland. In the airport, they check your passport and boarding pass several times. You are 100% not getting on that plane without a passport and boarding pass. Which is why I find it hilarious that when you land in Dublin Airport, you are again checked against your passport, I assume to catch anyone who made their way across the Irish Sea by clinging to the tail of the plane.
Back home. Even though I really enjoyed London, there is something just so comforting about that first step you take on your home soil after being away. It’s like a gentle hug saying “Welcome home, we missed you”. It’s where your whole life is, and it’s like seeing an old friend again.
This has been an official(-ish) guide to flying. Thanks for reading!
Your friendly neighbourhood,
Sean (With a Fada)