Tuesday 8 January 2013

Flying In A Blue Nightmare

I’m so tired, tired of waiting, tired of waiting for … EVERYTHING TO DO WITH FLYING!

Mrs PM and I have just returned from a New Year trip to Tenerife and as I was standing, hanging around yet again, I started to think about how much time I waste waiting for things that I really shouldn’t have to wait for, increasing my frustration exponentially.

If only I could get to foreign soil without having to fly there!

Let’s take a return flight from Manchester to Tenerife as an example of why flying is an exasperating experience for me. For the outbound flight, our tickets told us that we needed to arrive at the airport a full three hours before our flight.


At this time of year, apparently, there are a lot of travellers so the strain on airport security is immense. Or so we are told. Nobody seemed to tell the staff at Manchester Airport.

Manchester Airport security is currently under scrutiny because of a major security flaw. I am not making this up.

In July, a young child of 11 managed to sneak aboard a flight to Rome and was only noticed once the aircraft was in the air. He managed to sneak through the airport security without a boarding pass and actually get on board the aircraft itself.

Read about it here.

Consequently, staff at Manchester Airport have been severely reprimanded and have had to become extra vigilante. The result; yet MORE ways to infuriate me.

We had already checked in online for our flight but that didn’t help us one bit. The bag drop queue was immense and as I stood like an idiot, desperately frustrated and frantically trying not to rant, I began to wonder about why checking in online makes things quicker. I don't believe it does.

It took an age to meander through to the departure area, having to remove anything metallic, including my belt, watch, cash, keys, phone etc. What usually happens is I forget something and end up setting off the alarm and have to endure being patted down by a burly security guard who enjoys the experience as much as I do, i.e. not at all.

The exception to this is China, where I have been groped and prodded by a very angry and serious looking female security guard who was about half my height. She treated me as if I had set the scanner off on purpose.

Back in Manchester, the staff didn’t appear to have noticed that this was a particularly busy time to travel. Not all of the security desks were manned and, pretty soon, I was joined by hundreds of kindred spirits, each one grumbling openly about the lack of progress and the possibility of missing their flights.

Having made my way through the security, I then had to get dressed again (belt, watch etc.) before entering the departure lounge in search of food, while pondering why I had to get up at 4am to catch an 8:30 flight when I live approximately 20 minutes away from the airport.

Guess what? Yes – that’s right. I had to queue to get breakfast, and wait for the gate to be published.  Yet more bloody waiting and hanging around. The staff in the airside shops must be equally frustrated because by the time passengers make it through security, they only have five minutes before they have to board their flights.

And when you arrive at your destination, depending on where you land, the waiting just continues. The first problem is usually the immigration queue. Why are there only ever two immigration officers there when five packed flights have just arrived?

In Europe this isn’t so bad because as a European I can wave my passport at the guy and away I go. In places like America, the inquisition takes so long that I have to bite my lip to stop myself from saying:

“I’m in the United States of America to complain about the length of time it takes for any foreign national to get INTO your bloody country. Oh – and by the way! HAVE A NICE BLOODY DAY!!!”

I fear I would be marched off to jail fairly quickly if I did. Knowing my luck I would be deported and have to queue for hours to leave again.

After the humiliation of immigration, comes the free-for-all known as collecting your baggage. Usually, the queues from immigration are so slow that one of two things happen.

Either …

You have spent so long trying to convince the immigration official that you are here on holiday and not to spy in his country, that by the time you get through, your carousel is full of bags from the next flight and your luggage has been confiscated because you didn’t get through in time to collect it.

Or …

You actually get through quickly and then wait for an hour for the baggage handlers to unload the aircraft and dump your bags on the carousel.

When we returned to Manchester on Saturday, we had to wait for an hour for our bags and I was ready to commit grievous bodily harm.

On other occasions, I have had my luggage shifted into a holding room because immigration took so long. In South Africa, I arrived along with six other long haul flights, to find that only three immigration desks were open. I almost completely soured UK South African relations.

Of course, there is a third possibility. Your bag may not arrive, particularly if you have had to transfer. This is the most frustrating of all because you end up standing there like a lemon as all of the other passengers collect their bags and bugger off with a relieved smile on their faces, while you break down and start sobbing because you are in a foreign place and all of your clothes for a three week business trip are on a flight to the other side of the world, and you realise that you have no spare underwear in your hand luggage.

I love travelling but the frustration of waiting and waiting around at airports threatens to turn me into a primeval, subhuman Neanderthal.

Can I please ask all of you science boffins out there to do me a favour?

Please, please, PLEASE hurry up and invent the Transporter they use on Star Trek.

I am sick and tired of waiting for you guys to pull your fingers out.


Elephant's Child said...

And so say all of us. I often have to take my shoes off as well for some unknown reason. I am as flexible as a brick and taking my shoes off while standing up is a MAJOR challenge. And, of course, there is nowhere to sit down and do it, because it is a SECURITY RISK for me to walk ten feet to the chair. Hiss and spit.

drb said...

Hear hear!
You forgot 1 worse scenerio:
Your samsonite luggage bag appeared but is held together by duct tape with your undies flapping through the cracks! Some US custom officer had broken the locks for security check!!

That happened during my domestic flight from Houston to San Francisco.

MedicatedMoo said...

Oh, I hear you Plasman, I really, really do after enduring a 38 trip from Australia to Switzerland.

What really nibbles my giblets is that we have to disembark for an hour, at, say, Kuala Lumpur and go through a security check again, even though we've not left the actual airport or gone any further than the aeroplane we're about to get straight back on.

What do they think we could have ferreted away during the flight - a deadly concoction of refresher towelettes and those stupid orange juice cups with the peel back lids that always splosh down your shirt....?

Ah! Rant over....

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi EC,

I swear one day I will explode in fury. The only thing that stops me is the fact that I am going on holiday (usually). Oh and the possibility of being dragged to jail...




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi drb,

That's never happened to me but I hope it does on a return flight home from a holiday where I have hiked up mountains for days. I pity anybody who has to encounter my undies in such a scenario.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Bonjour Kath,

37 hours? I think I would have arrived in Geneva a gibbering wreck after that.

Four hours is bad enough and I have to endure trips to Oman and Japan later in the year.



River said...

So tired, tired of waiting, tired of waiting for yoooou....correct me if I'm wrong, is this The Kinks?
I'm tired of my own waiting game at bus stops, particularly the ones that have no shelter from the blistering sun.
You need to build a Stargate, oh wait, you'd also need Stargates at each of your destinations.....mmm, problem.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

Yes - correct - and the Little Angels covered it very well too.

Stargate - brilliant idea. I'll build one in Manchester, you build one Down Under and I can come down there for our winter and you can pop up here for our summer.





H2B said...

Read this Mr PM,

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi H2B,

I'll bet it was a fuel issue. I flew to Geneva from Manchester on business with EasyJet - it was the time I met Kath.

There was a blizzard in Geneva so the airport was closed for an hour - and we ended up landing in Lyon in France because the aircraft didn't have enough fuel to circle the airport like most aircraft would have.

I ended up arriving at the airport three hours late!




DelGal said...

Ugh, do I ever hate waiting for things too! Seriously though, be a tiny bit thankful that you don't have any major medical issues to add to your frustration. Standing and waiting for as little as 5 mins can get me into a painful cranky mess anywhere, let alone airplane related lines, ugh, murderous feelings galore! I unfortunately discovered that cruises are no better embarking and disembarking, ACK!

Hope teleporation gets invented soon, we all could use it, but then again I'm sure there'd be lines to get into it unless of course everyone had access to their own machines.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Lynette,

Ah - cruises. I've only been on one but I have to say it was fairly well organised - well eventually anyway.