Travel bugbears

I’ve talked before about personal difficulties I have with flying and now I’m going to tell you about a few travel things that just make me furious. Polar Bear Airways, my own private (and totally imaginary) airline has a few more rules than other airlines. Do bear in mind I’m probably a more irrational, intolerant and bad-tempered person than you may have previously realised as I give you some of these rules.

  • The Number One rule, no exceptions, is that anyone who has ever suffered from any form of motion sickness shall be banned from Polar Bear Airways. Anyone who’s eaten shellfish in the last forty-eight hours. Anyone hungover. Anyone who’s going to frighten an emetophobe, in short.
  • No Trunkis. For the uninitiated, the Trunki is a small plastic suitcase with a face and ears, designed to be towed three feet behind an adult using a strap. The idea is that a small child can ride on the Trunki, therefore not getting bored or tired while traversing the airport. Fine. But I have never seen a child riding a Trunki and without a child on board, it suddenly becomes nothing more than a trip hazard. Worse, these things open lengthways and I can’t for the life of me see how you can get it open in a cramped plane to get at any of the things that child needs/wants on a plane. Owners of Trunkis would not be welcome on Polar Bear Airways.
  • No suitcases on wheels. Fine for hold luggage but when they’re hand luggage, they’re just a hazard. I am so tired of falling over them because no one can ever carry them, they’re always trailing along three feet behind. Queues become four times longer, spaces become mere illusions and the idiots pulling them stop so suddenly at the top and bottom of stairs and escalators and the like that there’s no way to not crash into them, which suddenly becomes your fault.
  • On the subject of hand luggage, if you’ve got so much hand luggage you need a trolley to get it across the airport, it’s not hand luggage.
  • No alcohol. I don’t really drink – nothing against alcohol, I just don’t really like the taste and therefore see no point in drinking something that tastes nasty just for societal approval. But it takes on a different aura when it comes into contact with flights. People who drink at the airport, particularly, scare me because this emetophobe knows what follows excessive alcohol consumption. Also, there’s something about the following scenario that just makes me want to snap “Oh, grow up!” Someone of my acquaintance is considering going to Lapland, to stay in a wilderness lodge, to see the Northern Lights and go dog-sledding and so on. So far so idyllic. But the wilderness lodge must be attached to a big hotel because her husband couldn’t possibly go four days without a drink. Admittedly, I don’t know if it’s the need for alcohol that’s annoying me here or the concept of “wilderness experience + big hotel”. Anyway, no alcohol will be served on Polar Bear Airways and every passenger will be breath-tested before they board.
  • No children. I’m sorry. You’re not really allowed to say that any child is anything other than an unfledged angel of wonder and purity. I know lots of people have children and they’re very fond of them and sometimes they want or need to travel with them. But the thing is, I am something of a child-hater (which, I know, is weird for Brownie/Guide/Ranger leader). They’re noisy and smelly and kind of disgusting when they’re babies and when they’re toddlers, they’re really annoying and also I just don’t know what to do with them. But I can and will and do cope with them on the ground. It’s when I’m in a plane that aversion suddenly becomes red-hot hatred. It’s different when it’s your own child, they say, but it’s never my child. I don’t have a child and I really don’t enjoy someone else’s child screaming until my ears bleed when I’m trapped in a confined space with them for several hours. Neither do I enjoy them kicking my seat or making faces at me between the seats in front. You’re not allowed to scream back or kick back or react with anything other than friendliness or sympathy (and nothing grinds my gears like someone saying “Aren’t you good? Weren’t you so good?” in an adoring tone to a baby who’s just screamed for five solid hours six inches from my eardrums. No, it hasn’t. I hate the baby. I hate you. I hate everyone on the entire plane. And everyone on the ground.) I know the keeper of those children thinks it’s much worse for them. It’s not. It’s your child. Any irritation at the screaming or kicking is tempered by your overwhelming love for the kid. But Polar Bear Airways is for my comfort and happiness and so no babies or children.
  • No groups of lads. Sorry boys. For a start, you’re intimidating. You’re loud. You’re probably drunk. A baby or a green person clutching a bag are the only things that make me shudder more at a departure gate than a Group of Lads. Three of you tops.
  • No one in the middle seat. I know that keeping a third of the seats empty is bad business practice but isn’t it so much more comfortable having that seat free? I am a window-seater because I enjoy seeing out and because seeing out can be a necessary distraction for me. I love aisle-seaters because it takes out my competition. They can come and go as much as they please without bothering me. I don’t get up except in a dire emergency so I don’t bother them. It’s the person in the middle who spreads their legs or their newspaper as if they’re trying to push you through the side of the plane into an unscheduled free-fall. Think how great flying would be without that person. Or if you’re one of these couples who can’t fly without clinging to each other, you can have that middle seat provided you leave the third seat empty. Basically, only sell two out of every trio of seats and only book seats together for people who actually want to be together.
  • Maps on all flights. People talk about the little map that shows where the plane is as if it’s a feature on every plane in existence. This is a novelty I’ve only ever seen on Icelandair planes. I love it! Polar Bear Airways will have this on every plane in the entire fleet, right down to the winged minibuses. And entertainment screens. Again, only ever had them on Icelandair. You can’t comprehend how much I depend on that little screen to distract me and keep me calm on a three hour flight, which is why I always fly Icelandair, even if there are cheaper options. It’s peace of mind.
  • Free blankets. Ditto blah blah blah Icelandair. I love a blanket to snuggle with on an evening flight.

There, this post deteriorated from “things I hate about flying” to “things I love about flying”, and more specifically, “things I love about Icelandair”. I’m not sponsored or anything, I just think they have a lot more features than certain budget airlines I fly with more often (although if they want to give me a free flight, I will publically glow about them for the rest of my life).

And frankly, none of this matters on Polar Bear Airways, because if I own the airline, I’m either going to be flying the plane or it’s going to be a private plane without any passengers on it.