Fear of flying

When Mood Music
2013-08-29 14:53:00 pissed off none

In general, I’m not afraid of flying. I usually enjoy turbulence, and I almost always want to feel more acceleration during take-off. I enjoy watching the flaps working during landing and I award very notional points for landing smoothness and reduced time from landing to disembarking. Here endeth the enjoyable parts.

Last weekend (Friday 23rd – Sunday 25th), I was due to visit my parents – mostly to hand over my dad’s new iPad mini and coach him in using it. My flight was at 10:40, so I could arrive in Worcester in the early afternoon. This didn’t happen because I left the iPad in my cabin baggage, rather than putting it in the tray. My bag was taken out of the conveyor and fully searched, and then run over with a detector swab. It indicated that the iPad may have been in contact with materials potentially related to explosives. (I don’t trust this swabbing technique – a fresh swab cloth was not used for each bag that was checked, and the swab was allowed to sit on the counter.) The police then wanted a quiet word with me. All this delayed me so much that I missed my flight and ended up taking a much later one, so that I arrived in Worcester 6 hours late and down by £140. I didn’t sleep that night and so was in no good state to coach my dad the next day, and wasn’t in the best of conditions for meeting my brother’s partner’s son and his girlfriend for the first time on Saturday evening.

The return flight was little better. My 17:15 flight was cancelled. After a long time queuing, I was offered a choice between an 18:30 flight to Glasgow, with a free coach transfer to Edinburgh or a 20:30 flight to Edinburgh. I chose the Glasgow flight because that would have get me home sooner. But it didn’t. Firstly my bag was searched again. Them, when I’d escaped security, I saw that my Glasgow flight was delayed until 19:15. We eventually boarded around 19:30, then sat on the tarmac for another hour. I overheard that there had been an issue with the cargo hold. (The toilet seat was broken too.)

When we arrived at Glasgow, there was no-one staffing the airline’s desk, and there were about 20 people needing transferred to Edinburgh. I badly needed the toilet, so I asked a fellow victim to ensure they didn’t run off without me. But when I returned from the toilet, all the Edinburgh-bound people had gone. Fortunately, staff at the next desk told me where to go and I got to the coach just as it was preparing to leave. I got home well after 11pm, instead of around 7pm.

So in this instance, flying took far longer than travelling by train and turned out to be much more expensive. Adding this to the travails of taking bikes on aeroplanes makes me believe that flying has no advantages for travel to the Midlands. Even when it works, I have to travel much further to get to Edinburgh Airport (Haymarket station is 15 minutes’ walk away), spend an hour being searched and waiting, sit in a cramped seat, get charged extra for taking for more than a small bag, run the risk of someone else taking my bag from the carousel, then travel by train to Birmingham New Street, wait another hour, then finally travel another hour to Worcester. From now on, to visit Worcester I’ll go by train: 4 hours in relatively comfortable seating direct to New Street, and then another train to Worcester – or a pleasant 30-mile cycle.


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