I apologise upfront, but it’s time for another rant about travel in this country.
I find it increasingly unappealing to have to fly anywhere these days and not just because all the ‘no frills’ airlines seem to have adopted the motto ‘treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen’.
I know I’m not alone in feeling this way as yesterday it was reported that over 17 million people in the UK are planning a ‘staycation’ this year. And after experiencing the trauma of Luton airport the other week, I can’t say I blame them.
My journey started off well. I left my house around 4.30am for a 7.15am flight and sailed up the various motorways to Luton with absolutely no problem (apart from the monsoon-like rain conditions).
I had cunningly decided to check in online - paying £10 each way for the privilege. Airlines want us to check in on-line (some even make it mandatory), but when you try to do this, they insist you have to pay for your seat before you can do so. Can anyone tell me if this is even legal?
Anyway, I decided to pay up so that I could have any extra hour of sleep. But it was once I reached the turn off to Luton airport at around 5.40am that it all my planning went spectacularly pear-shaped.
I queued for over 40 minutes on the slip road just to get onto the roundabout that leads to the airport. I was convinced that there must have been a six car pileup (or punch up!) on it, but when I reached the roundabout, it just turned out to be that good old chestnut “sheer weight of traffic”. I raced off to the long stay car park, chucked my car into a space and sprinted to the courtesy bus stop…. To find another gaggle of tired, disgruntled passengers, shivering in the cold and rain, waiting for the bus… which was stuck in the traffic at the roundabout!
15 minutes later (it was now getting on for 6.30am and my flight was at 7.15) the bus turned up. We piled on and the bus set off. Only to get stuck in the traffic at the same bloomin’ roundabout for another 10 minutes.
Feeling my blood pressure escalating to dangerous levels, I trotted up to the front of the bus to ask the driver what was the problem and would it be quicker to walk.
He was philosophical. Apparently it’s like this EVERY Monday morning at Luton since they increased the number of flights but forgot to do anything about the road system infrastructure around the airport.
We eventually reached the drop off spot in front of the terminal at 6.45am… I had just half an hour to make my flight.
Thank goodness for online check-in!
But, I had forgotten about just getting through security! When I got there, the queue was 300 strong and out the door, spilling down the escalator.
So I coughed up another £3 for a “priority security pass”….enabling me to jump the queue as a VIP! (Don’t make me laugh! VIP in airports must stand for Very Irritating Person!)
Going through security was the usual scenario of being barked at by grumpy, tired officials, stuffing all my possessions (including most of what I was actually wearing) through the scanners and then putting them all back on again the other side.
At no point during this whole procedure had anyone said “please” or “thank you” or “if you wouldn’t mind”, never mind “have a lovely holiday”.
It’s like the whole of the aviation industry is just really, really annoyed that any of us want to fly anywhere. And they really know how to let you know it.
Why is this? Why, when everyone wants us all to spend money and save the economy by splashing our hard earned cash are we so awful to the very people who are our bread and butter? Is it a conspiracy? Did the government tell them to treat us worse than cattle being transported around so that we’d stay put and therefore cut our carbon emissions? If so, just tell us…I won’t budge an inch from my doorstep… honest.
Which leads me back to where I began…. No wonder 17 million of us have decided it nicer (and much easier) to stay at home! - AM