Tuesday, May 9, 2017

One upon a time, a long long time ago, I used to work for BAA, the British Airports Authority. At the time, they operated most of the big airports in the UK, and I worked in the Retail Finance department, out by Heathrow. I was only there, as a temp, for I think about nine weeks, but whilst I was there we would occasionally go over to the airport itself for lunch. But not just to the airport…. airside, at the airport. Those restaurants with big windows that looked out over the runway and the plane and all the excitement that I then associated with airports.

It was exciting. You could really sense excitement buzzing through the terminal, especially from passengers on their way to their holiday destination. It was thrilling, enticing, mysterious. I’d flown before, once, to Australia when I was 19. That’s a pretty big first flight, frankly, and a whole story all to itself. But just seeing these planes on the apron, sensing the anticipation. It was breathtaking.

I fly a lot more now. More than I would have ever anticipated back then, in the mid 90s. And the last thing I feel is excitement or anticipation. It’s a much less trusting time, that’s true, but flying now feels like a massive chore rather than something to look forward to. That’s in part, I suppose, because even just getting to the airport now is a chore. I left the house at 12:30 for a 20:20 flight, because I have to take a shuttle to Milwaukee airport, then catch a coach to Chicago O’Hare, and one has to leave quite a leeway in case of traffic or delays. It cost well over $80, and it’s hardly the most relaxing start to a journey.

I could continue, but I think you already know what I’d say. It’s not the security stuff per se that has stripped the excitement from flying, it’s all the amazing ways that airlines manage to make flying more tedious than it needs to be. Maybe it might be different if I was only flying to go on holiday, rather than for work, but the old idea that flying was exotic, exciting and thrilling… well, I just don’t feel it anymore. And that’s a shame.

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