Most people are excited when they take their first flight. They are ecstatic, they tell everyone about it, they are happy to be above the clouds and see the midnight blue sky from their fancy window seats.
In theory, it sounds so right. It sounds like a magnificent thing to happen to humanity, the dark sky, the city lights, the aerial view, the clouds below you, and the pretty airhostesses getting you a glass of scotch. What could possibly be wrong with this fantastic experience?
Well, a lot of things. I will tell you about how fundamentally flawed the airline industry is, I will rant, I will complain and I will go through every point which has annoyed me about taking a flight. (Consider that as my warning for this post being a #longread) and at the end of it all, I will make sure you hate flying as much as I do.
To give you a background, I fly every week, sometimes twice a week on the same route and mostly on the same airline, which departs at the same time; I usually do single day trips. I fly for work and not pleasure. There is no pleasure in flying.
The first thing you do, is you take a cab or any other means of transport to the airport which in turn is usually full of chattering and cars zooming past at you at any given point in a day. As you proceed with your ticket in your hand, you are greeted by the most inhuman smile, cops in uniforms who don’t like being around airport because the noises they hear make them go crazy, the security folks who have to pretty much make sure people do nothing here except maybe cry and hug each other, the dude who is in charge of making sure cars don’t park for more than 5 minutes. They hate you, they hate everybody and they have shotguns. This is your regular day at the entrance of the airport; you proceed towards the entry with the ticket in your hand and your identification. You are let in to the terminal where the real fun of flying begins, apparently.
The problem with you actually getting the boarding pass in your hand is that there is a big line of people with bags and trolleys filled with suitcases so big that you’d assume there are going to be people inside it. By the time you actually get to the woman sitting on the counter who wears too much makeup and has this fake smile on her face, you do not get the seats you want. Which makes you more pissed off than it should and you start making a weird “how-can-you-do-this-to-me” face at the woman, who frankly does not really care about anything. She is the one who everybody bullies anyway because she can’t be in the air, while the other girls are flying to all sorts of destination, this one has to sit her ass down on a plastic counter and make sure everybody gets on the plane and try being nice to people she hasn’t ever met. So you can’t really blame her, she just made awful life decisions. Maybe you can tell her that when she gives you middle seats. What could be worse than middle seats anyway? However, I might add the boarding pass procedure is not mandatory anymore. (Web check-in is the best thing to happen to the airline industry since the invention of a plane) but since I am a more conventional person, I prefer to stand in midst of the people and judge them by the type of bags they are carrying and make inane observations about them. I quite enjoy that.
The boarding pass is in your hand and your hand-baggage has the baggage tag. You walk through the terminal passing people who decide drinking RedBull along with their 12-year-old kids was a good idea hoping these generic people wouldn’t be sitting next to you or better yet not even be on your flight. You walk towards the dreaded security check, the same ol’ procedure where people seem more serious than they actually are, it’s probably human nature to be more serious in front of men with guns and metal detectors. Your boarding pass is in your hand and you move forward in the line, keeping your hand-baggage on the belt after removing your iPad and keeping that with your mobile phone in a blue plastic box. You move ahead, through the metal detector, handing over the boarding pass to the security-check-in-charge-dude and putting your hands up in the air like you want to fly. He looks at your face, he doesn’t like his job. He is a heterosexual 40-something year old man who’s job is to touch men. Life is unfair; you can’t do anything about it. He puts the metal detector on your wallet as it constantly beeps and he let’s you through. You collect your stuff and you move on. On your way to your boarding gate you pass through countless shops which sell things you would probably never buy, let alone buying them at the airport with inflated rates. There are shops with sell clothes, shoes, watches, sunglasses. “Yes! I did forget to buy shoes while on my way to the airport. Do you guys have a size 11 in those John Lobb’s?” There are also the usual suspects to be found in the nearby vicinity of this area: the 5$ coffee and the 4$ tea, the 9$ bag of chips. Then there are those suspended screens, which are supposed to help you to reach your gate. They will always show the flights you are not going to get on with these hipster destinations for the first forty seconds. That’s the unsaid rule. After you constantly stare at the screen, unblinkingly and figure out where you have to go, you move towards your gate and you sit down on a chair, switch on your Wi-Fi and start reading your emails as you wait for your airline carrier to start boarding. Maybe you even check-in on Foursquare and Facebook to tell people you are leaving this city, miserably hoping that somebody comments or likes it. But nobody does, because you are alone and nobody likes you and that is the only reason you would actually check-in at the airport.
Which brings me to one of my question to which I still haven’t been able to figure out the answer to: What is up with people waiting in a line to board the plane before the boarding even starts? What happened to these people when they were kids? Were they bounced around like basketballs when they were two and now they have serious brain damage? I don’t get this, I honestly don’t. Maybe it’s just an Indian thing, where they think “Oh, what if the plane took-off without us?” even though they have a boarding pass their mentally traumatised brain decides that there won’t be any seats left? Also no, “They’re probably flying for the first time.” is not a good enough excuse for this. Some people are so brain-dead; they decide to give people on wheelchairs (who get to board the aircraft prior to everybody else) the stink eye. I don’t know what happened to them in their childhoods and which uncle was evil to them but these people have serious mental illnesses. I, being the rational human being I am, have decided to wait until everybody gets on the flight before even getting up from my seat. That or until the airline folks decide to make me famous by announcing my name in the terminal. I just don’t budge before that happens.
So, after you board the plane and try to squish in the middle seat you notice a moderately built guy has decided to occupy more space than a big bear, for some odd reason. He is also decided he is going to go to sleep before the plane even takes-off, while he is seated on a part of your seat belt and he will obviously refuse to wake up until you shoulder-slap him. On the other side of this wonderful aircraft there sits the clichéd, overweight woman who in her mid-50’s who has decided to apply more cheek makeup than any of the pretty-yet-borderline-anorexic air-hostesses. This just all spells out a fun experience, doesn’t it?
After a while the pilot decides that he should introduce himself, because hey, who doesn’t want to hear what the glorified driver thinks? He also talks about the crew; he talks about weird shit like how the weather is going to be like at the destination you are flying to, because nobody has heard of a thing called a smartphone or a weather app. He talks about what altitude the aircraft will be flying, he makes you feel like you have a say in this. However, you really don’t. Sometimes the pilot will switch to being this creepy salesman and he will talk about these Swiss Watches being available for sale. He makes it seem like the plane of all the places in the world is the only one where you would want to make a 500$ impulse purchase.
Ever been in an aircraft, which is being flown, by a woman? Sounds sexist? I am sorry, but I’d rather be sexist than be dead. Have you even seen Gravity? Have you people learnt nothing? The whole movie pretty much summed up the idea that a woman can’t drive. Bullock couldn’t even ride something without wheels. Think about that for a second.
“I crashed all the simulators” - Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), Gravity.
Statistics have proven repeatedly that women can’t drive kinda like how men don’t get pregnant. Deal with it.
After the whole commotion, the plane starts taxiing. The crew aboard the flight decide that they will teach you how to wear a seatbelt, because no passenger who has boarded this aircraft has ever sat in a moving car of any kind before, obviously. They will tell you that everything you would want to do cannot be done while you are in the aircraft. You can’t use your phone. You can’t smoke. You can’t go all retroy on the air-hostess and slap her tooshy. You can’t inflate the life jacket for fun. However, there will still be kids on board who will try running around and keep adjusting their seats like mentally deranged human beings. They might also kick your polished leather shoes if you have an aisle seat and God-forbid you sit next to them, they might puke outside the brown paper bag and try stealing your headphones. Then there is the person who has accepted that he is a jerk, it’s usually the people who have random outbursts of things while the plane is taking off, landing or during turbulence. Coughing, sneezing, religious chanting. All of it. Moreover, since he is sitting exactly behind you, you get your tour of what the term “an inconsiderate human being” actually means.
They won’t let me use my phone even in airplane mode while taking-off and landing, don’t get me wrong I am all up for human safety and stuff but do you really think something on Airplane Mode will kill us? Also, please I don’t want to keep my window shades open when we are taking off. It’s 9:00 am. The sun is annoying the shit out of me. I don’t want to be that guy who wears sunglasses indoors. Don’t make me that guy. Oh and while you are at it trying to sell me a can of Coke for a reasonable price of 4$ would you mind taking your tiny food, tiny food plates, tiny water, tiny bathrooms and putting it up your tiny ass? Don’t get me that stink eye the next time I ask you for a glass of water, you evil, evil, corporation. Haven’t any human rights activists ever used an airline service? How are they even okay with this? Do you realize you have no alternative except to listen to the crew folks because otherwise they could technically just throw you off the airplane. That really wouldn’t be good for you, would it?
I fail to understand how people claim they enjoy flying. What do you people do in the real world that you are ready to bear so much pain and misery while you pay them money? What do you like about flying? The tiny seats or the tiny bathroom? You say you actually enjoy it? Are you guys sadists?
In conclusion, the airline industry is actually just an excuse to run an expensive little hipster mall in every city, called the airport.