The joy of air travel

As a roller derby referee, I travel a lot, and as I live on the outskirts of Europe, I normally travel by plane. I mean, why spend tens of hours on a train, when I can be anywhere in the northern parts of Europe in a few hours.

Anyway, there’s a lot to see at airports, and it’s similar everywhere, so here are a few of my observations.

Checking in
I’m normally at the airport early, so I don’t have to stress. The routine is as follows: I use a machine to get my boarding card and luggage tags. To do so you need your booking code. That’s where a smartphone comes in handy. While waiting in line for the machine, I open my mail, so the code is ready when I need it. Sometimes it seems like I’m the only one who is prepared though. People who’s been waiting five to ten minutes in line need to dig through their kit to find the scrap of paper whit the unreadable code – and they wait until they’re at the machine. Still, I’ve got a lot of time, so it’s ok. My hope is that people would come prepared.

Bag Drop
After getting my boarding card, and tags, I go to drop my bags. I normally look for the self drop, because it’s convenient. Guess what? People just don’t understand it! Place your bag on the conveyor, scan the code, and Bob’s your uncle. Don’t place all your bags on the belt at the same time. Don’t try sending your fishing rod, bike, or other weirdly shaped stuff there. It will get stuck, and you will stop the entire system. How can people not understand this?

Security Checkpoint
After dropping my bags, I go to security. Yeah, I know. We don’t like it. But, as long as it’s there, we have to go through it. When I get there, I empty my pockets, remove my ipad, rollerskates, and camera from my carry-on bag, take off my belt and shoes. I’m clean, and my bag only has a book and maybe a hoodie.
The people ahead of me on the other hand… They fail to remove liquids and large electronical items from their bags, they fail to remove their belts, and they keep keys, phones, and other crap in their pockets. Needless to say, the poor schmuck working security tries everything, but no. Full body search and bag check, while the passenger abuses him verbally even though he’s the one not following the rules.
My turn, and there’s no problem. Sometimes I get the random search, but it’s over before it starts as I don’t have any objects anywhere. (And no, I don’t feel violated.)

At the inside
Finally through, I find my gate, so I know where to go when it’s time to board. I browse the stores, read a book, or watch netflix until boarding. Why food, and the stuff they sell at airports is twice as expensive as elsewhere is a mystery to me, but whatever! Boarding time!

The moment someone from the airline arrives at the gate, people get in line to board. Not really a bad thing, but I don’t see why they do it. You already know where you’re going to sit. It’s on your boarding card, and the personell normally spend five to ten minutes preparing the gate for boarding. Still, people line up, and wait impatiently. When the gate opens, the line moves. To form a new line to actually get inside the plane. Then you hang around inside the plane while people find their seats, before you’re finally able to sit down. Only to have to unbuckle and get up to let another passenger, who was behind you in the line, sit at the window. I usually wait until most people have boarded, and sometimes even until the personell starts to look around for more passengers. I’m among the last to board. The only trouble might be finding room for my bag. It’s not a problem though, because I can leave my book in my seat, and place my bag somewhere else. Finally we’re on our way, and while the plane taxes to the runway people make their last calls, sends one final text, or mail, or do other stuff on their phones. You know, they’ll be offline for an hour or two now, and it’s scary!

After the plane lands, and it has taxed to the gate, the ‘Fasten Seatbelts’ light is turned off, and people litterally jump up from their seat. Chaos starts! Or, as my girlfriend named it: “The First Person Off The Plane Game”! People open the overhead compartments to get their stuff, and stand around waiting to exit the plane. For as much as ten minutes. Phones come on again, and people call, text, email, and do whatever. I sit in my (window) seat, reading another chapter, while people get annoyed at me for being calm. Yes, really! One time a guy leaned over the seats to tell me we had landed! No shit Sherlock! Was that what it was? He got angry with me when I replied that I knew, but I didn’t want to take part in the madness.
After almost everybody has left the plane, I get out of my seat, and leave in an orderly fashion, remembering to say goodbye to the crew while smiling.

That’s my story. How do you fly? (Pun intended!)


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