Like most first world inhabitants, I use planes more than buses. Actually I never use buses. I use elephants more than buses. But that's not the point of this post. I have probably flown at least once every other month for the past forty years. Say around 500 flights somewhere and back. And on every flight, two things always happen:
- The captain invites me to enjoy the flight - or hoped I enjoyed it
- I didn't
Once announced on screens that you have to squint to read, there's the long plod to get to your gate. Why is mine always the furthest from the shopping mall? Do they scan the passenger manifest the day before to make sure that my flight is allocated the one that's never normally used because it's technically not actually part of the airport or in the same county? So they get you to the gate, check your ticket again, and then you wait in the world's most uncomfortable seats... if you get one, unless you're one of the 'we've got to be first on-board' queuing professionals who seem prepared to stand one behind another for as long as it takes to get into their favourite seat. Or perhaps you've grabbed a passing kid as your priority boarding evidence. A wheelchair's useful too.
So now you're on board and studiously ignoring the safety briefing. You ignore it not because you know everything they're saying (which of course you do), but because everyone else is ignoring it and you don't want to look like an obedient pratt. As Oscar Wilde said, 'I want to be different like everyone else'. Eventually you take off and realise 'here we go again. I'm going to be bored in less than 10 minutes'. There is nothing pleasant about being strapped to a seat, even a reclining business class bed-like thing, for hour after hour after hour. Same clothes, same neighbours, messy toilets, rubbish films on titchy screens with crap sound, mags, books (or E-readers you can't use during take off and landing for fear of crashing the aircraft... go figure), aches and pains amplified, twitching muscles. Bowel gas pressure. Can't get comfy. Can't sleep. I'm hopelessly and helplessly uncomfortable. Writhing in misery for hours and hours and hours and hours. And then, amazingly, you fall sleep!!! Only to be woken minutes later by the head creepy gay mincer offering you deals on perfume or bingo cards. Or perhaps it's the captain hoping 'YOU'RE STILL ENJOYING THE FLIGHT' and informing us that we're still flying at 40,000 feet.
Bodies and brains weren't designed for sitting or lying in cramped noisy bumpy tubes. So why do the captain and head trolley-dollies always hope you enjoyed the flight? Don't they realise that no-one ever does, and no-one ever has - at least not since 1921, or whenever passenger flights started. In those days, people booked flights not to go somewhere, but simply to fly. Go into the sky and look down on buildings and poor people who can't afford to do it. That must have indeed been fun if you've never done it before. The only people these days who've never done it before are the bawling babies who sit right behind me and endlessly kick the back of my seat, and most of India. Like the wireless, the carphone, the television and other wonders of their age, flying is no longer a thrill (unless you're in a Tornado dodging SAMs). Travelling by air is incredibly boring. In fact it's unpleasant.
So instead of archaically and pointlessly hoping we'll enjoy our flight, why don't airlines update their patter and talk honestly to us? How about "We hope you find our flight less appalling than everyone else's" or "We trust you didn't slit your wrists during this flight because we'd love to get your money again". What about "If you're sitting in economy and consequently in pain, why don't you pay more next time? You'll still be in pain, but the air hostesses are better looking". "Ignore the airline ads, we're all the same. Admit it, you're on this flight because it's the cheapest."
Why don't airlines just drug us as we take our seats and then administer the antidote seconds before we arrive (actually just before we disembark so we don't have to ensure the endless wandering around runways and aprons to find the gate furthest from passport control). It works on Star Trek and will avoid safety demonstrations, film rental, food, drink and those dreadful in-flight magazines.
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