Thursday, 16 June 2016

Sit back, relax and try to ignore my voice!

As the holiday season approaches those lucky enough to be fleeing to warmer climes will have to face the trauma of flying. 

Long gone are those halcyon days when going up in the air in a metal cylinder was perceived as fab and fun. I remember when the notion of flying sounded incredibly exciting. 

For reasons that now completely escape me, the idea of a pre-cooked reheated meal-for-one served in a silver foil dish at 30,000 feet represented the height of glamour. 

If you are flying Ryanair there’s not much help to offer. Everyone has their own coping strategy for budget airlines. Mine involves paying the extra for a 15kg bag, priority boarding, 5mg of valium and ear plugs, so that I no longer melt into rage each time the cabin crew announce over the tannoy -

 “Now sit back, relax and enjoy your flight!”

- wondering why, if that truly is their wish, the blue and yellow bastards then burn my ears off every five minutes trying to sell me BeyoncĂ© eau de toilette, train tickets, e-cigarettes, sachets of gin and vodka, scratch cards for the homeless, little model Ryanair planes and vile soggy ham and cheese concoctions... and after each pitch they finish off with -“Sit back, relax, and enjoy your flight.”

“Sit back, relax, and enjoy your flight.” 
Up there with "Your call is very important to us!" 

If you are lucky enough to be flying on a long haul flight to another continent, I offer you the following suggestions: Get to the airport as early as is feasible. Ignore those who flashily say that they like to arrive at the last minute. They are fools. 

However early you arrive there will already be a queue for check-in. That is because however anal you are about timekeeping, there are always others who are more so. 

When you approach the check-in desk, put on your best voice and ask the corporate hume if there is any chance of an upgrade. They will look at you as if you are a scumball chancer from Hell, but there is a chance they might say: 

“Why yes, as it happens today you are travelling Business / Connoisseur / First Class!” 

If they do then skip the rest of this colyoom. Your flight will be a joy. However never expect this to happen. There is also a chance that Michael Lowry will be the next Pope. 

Most likely you will be allocated a seat in Economy, or Coach as frequent flyers call it. There you will be packed in like sardines, but this is not as bad as it sounds, as sardines are generally happy. Not many people know that. 

Go to the bar and drink whiskey. 
Do not under any circumstances eat airport food. 

Go to the newsagents and buy a newspaper and a magazine. It doesn’t matter if you never ever buy magazines. Now is the time to start. 

Buy Earthworm Monthly or Roadworks Digest; it matters not. Believe me: you will need a magazine. 

At the Boarding Gate try to look nonchalant. Everyone else will. 
Glare at babies so that they cry themselves to sleep before getting on the plane. As you take your seat on the plane make sure you have all your reading matter, puzzles, pens and sweets in a bag at your feet. 

Do not under any circumstances engage any of your ‘neighbours’ in conversation at this stage. Do not even look at them. Pretend they are dead. 

Behave sycophantically to the cabin crew. They can make your flight much more pleasant if they like you. Look bewildered and lost and they will love you. 

Try not to watch the safety routine. Only flight virgins do this and you know that if this baby hits the ocean, it’ll be between you and Beelzebub. 

After the seat belt sign is switched off take off your shoes. If your feet stink pretend it’s not you. 

All attempts to sleep during the first half of the flight will cause unnecessary grief, as you will be interrupted every ten minutes while being offered a meal, a drink, or hot (tepid) towel. 

Read everything. Read your newspaper, your magazine, the vomit bag and then read your newspaper again. 

Watch the movies. They will be inane and terminally dull but you can amuse yourself by lip-reading the actors saying “Fuck You!” while the voice in your headset says “Please go away!” 

After this you may try to sleep. Wrap yourself in the blanket and exhaust yourself by trying to cover your toes and chest at the same time. All airline blankets are designed for midgets. 

When you fail to sleep you may annoy your fellow passengers by lifting your window shutter, thus flooding the cabin with sunlight. Insist this ritual is part of your religion. 

Look down and you will see clouds or the vast frozen tundra. If you look down and see blue sky put your shoes back on pronto. 

During the flight you will gradually become aware of whether or not you want to make contact with your neighbours. It is quite possible to just smile and crush their toes each time you go to the loo, without ever speaking to them. 

However if you’re in the mood for conversation, remember that you’ll never see them again, so feel free to lie with panache. 
Even if you have no idea what Rugby League is, you can pretend you are a professional Rugby League superstar. 

In the unlikely event that they turn out to be interesting and amiable, you should anoint their heads with oil and praise Allah (maybe not such a great idea), unless they introduce themselves as Hyram and Elsa Goldenblatt from Queens. 

They will, of course, suffer from halitosis. This is a universal truth of flying. 

Good luck up there folks, and happy travels! 

 ©Charlie Adley 20.05.2016.

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