Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Flying is a do-it-yourslf job

Airport 2 telephone

Remember the good old days when you went to the travel agents and booked your flight, full of excitement and expectations, being given the ticket carefully contained in a little long voucher cover. You arrived at the airport, went to the desk where the nicely dressed lady (or man) was waiting to do all the examinations of the passport and the ticket. You put your luggage on the conveyer belt, it was weighed and disappeared to your plane. That was an adventure. You proceeded to the duty free shop to sit and wait until your boarding gate was called out and then you reached the plane. Yes, it was fun and everyone at the airport was doing all the work to get you there.

Today things have changed, you do it all yourself. It begins when you book the flight over the computer at home. No problem - choose the airport, the time of the flight and even your seat just by mouse click. Print out your ticket and you are almost there. Afterwards you do the same for the return journey, it could not be easier and now you wait until the day before the flight and if you did it all correctly you will get your boarding documents a day before the flight on your computer. If you did not do it correctly you will be told that there are still some details required, but the airlines are organised. You have a link, do it all again and the boarding documents arrive from the printer.

I flew to London a week ago and did it all from home.There is even a device on your smart phone where you can receive the magic bar code for the boarding pass which allows you to proceed thought the turnstiles by placing it on the little glass window, but for a golden oldie like me that is a little complicated, although I might try it one day. You arrive at the airport and show your boarding pass. For the unfortunates without a computer there are machines for printing the boarding  pass, but you have to do it on your own. When i gave up my luggage at the airport I was asked for the tag to put on my case.

“I don’t have one” was my answer and I continued “do I have to print that as well?”

“Yes, it is new, but I can do it for you”. I did pass a remark that if things continue in this way the young lady will soon be out of a job. I almost asked if I have to do a pilot’s licence to fly the plane, but decided to keep quiet. You never know. 

I proceeded to the take off lounge where I was invited to put my various bags and electronic equipment into bins which were x-rayed. In the meanwhile I walked through the searching arch and nothing peeped, so I was clean. I noticed  the examiners threw a bottle of mineral water away that a fellow passenger victim was daring to take on the plane. Liquids are dangerous, they might explode - terrorists are everywhere. Eventually they let me on the plane.

A week later I arrived at London City Airport for the return journey, full of confidence. My boarding documents had arrived the day before on the computer, although I was advised, with full apologies, that the seat I wanted had been changed. I proceeded to the check-in and loaded my various bags into the tray. They went through the tunnel on the conveyer belt, but I noticed there was one of my bags missing. The young lady then appeared with the bag in her hand and pulled me to one side. I looked around but there were no police present. She looked at me with a disapproving look.

”You have a plastic toilet bag in this bag.”

“Yes, I do not pack my toiletries. If my case arrives at the wrong airport, at least I can have a wash and clean my teeth”. Perhaps it was not the time to make jokes, but i sort of gave her a friendly smile. It was then she began to unpack my various items. I noticed the suspicious look in her eyes when she pulled out my diabetes instruments, but she continued. It was then that it happened. She pulled out a tube of toothpaste, Swiss toothpaste.

“Is this your toothpaste?”


“The tube is too big.”

I did not realise there were various sizes. I felt ashamed that I had a king-sized tube of toothpaste.

“You cannot take this on the plane.”

“Then throw it away” I said, thinking it was some sort of airport joke.

The young lady threw it away, she confiscated my toothpaste. I proceeded to wait for the plane wondering what they did with all those toothpaste tubes, bottles of mineral water etc. etc. I learnt something. Never fly with toothpaste, it can be a danger to the plane.

Oh and to add, I did not have to print my baggage tag for the return journey. Apparently London City Airport is not so advanced as Zürich airport. The things you learn when flying to day. Yes, it is a do-it-yourself job.

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