Tuesday, April 16, 2024 | Shawwal 6, 1445 H
broken clouds
29°C / 29°C

Flying: Fun and games isn’t it?

Arrival at every airport’s departure drop-off zone is frustrating due to too few parking/drop-off spots, or forces you into a pay zone

Flying... it should be fun, shouldn’t it? But I must say, security considerations apart, it’s often an exercise in frustration. Although considering I travel frequently to faraway New Zealand, I suppose masochism is a more appropriate adjective.

In an ideal world, we should be able to purchase our tickets, which should include chosen seats, our baggage options, arrive at the airport maybe 90 minutes prior to flying, hand over all luggage, and go and do some duty-free shopping prior to boarding, and enjoying a leisurely relax into flying mode? But no... it’s never so simple. Arrival at every airport’s departure drop-off zone is either frustrating due to too few parking/drop-off spots, or forces you into a pay zone, like many airports around the world where it’s free to drop passengers off, but then you must pay to get out! For what? About a minute, or two minutes.

You have been delivered, so then you make your way to your check-in area, and this I have never worked out... At home, I have been encouraged to do online check-in, which I do... Yet every time I have, I have still been asked to produce my passport, for whatever checks, as the online check-in has already confirmed my identity and documents. My luggage, scrupulously weighed and re-weighed at home to ensure its compliance with the ‘rules,’ is weighed again, tagged, boarding passes re-issued, because my A4 paper is not good enough, and we are free to go through to passport control and security.

As I have been going through this charade, my only saving grace is that the poor travellers who did not check in online, are shuffling through an endless maze of queue tape, in the slowest conga imaginable. Poor sods! Onwards then to passport control, the most cursory of inspections, and through to security screening. Look, I know, security is a must. However, being able to put your phone, watch, wallet, house keys, and small change in a tray, and remove your laptop from its bag putting them in a second tray, whipping the belt out of your pants, and yanking your shoes off... should become an Olympic sport... It’s such a challenge...

But then, relieved, with nothing left, you step through the scanner, which sounds its alarm... and everybody stops. You stop, you look around at everybody else who is looking at you, assessing you... You can see their unspoken questions. Is he a thief or a terrorist? Has he got a bomb or a gun? And... I think I know that guy... surely not. You are snapped out of this by a kid half your age trying to sound macho, and whose voice goes into ‘robocop’ mode... “Step this way please.” He waves his magic wand around me, and it beeps again... but I can’t think what it might be. The kid rubs his sterile glove from whence the beep emitted, and satisfied, simply steps aside, indicating I can go.

As far as the second half of the Olympic event. But! By now I must do everything one-handed (because my pants are falling off, without a belt), I stub my toe on the next passenger’s trolley, and the following trays are stacking up as I haven’t cleared mine yet... I feverishly chuck my change, keys, watch and wallet in one pocket, and throw my laptop in its bag, hearing the mouse in the bottom shatter into pieces, grab my belt and shoes and hobble away from the scanner table to somewhere I can sort myself out. Duty free shopping? Not for me, I’m still decompressing.

Eventually my flight is called to board, and I am in Row 16, boarding group 3. Well, I swear, despite the boarding groups being announced in three different languages, it seems half the passengers can’t read, or hear, their groups, and some even attempt repeatedly to board, out of their group. The boarding process is chaos! Tired of being buffeted around, I just give up, and decide to wait till last, while a question occurs to me... why don’t they board the rearmost seated passengers first? Eventually I’m last to pass through, and greeted by, “Oh, Mr Petersen, just in time,” with an accusatory, “We were just about to close the gate.” I am almost beaten... but I pass through, only to find about 50 passengers ahead of me in the corridor shuffling forward at racing tortoise speed.

Eventually, I step on board, and am pointed to my seat by a smiling hostess, where I find the overhead locker is full, chocker, stuffed... Once again, I have been beaten to my knees, by an airport, and an airline.

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