Air Travel – Riding the Death Tube

From this distance, you can’t hear the screams.

These days it is becoming rare to find someone who in their lifetime hasn’t used air travel. These people have been blessed by the gods. Air travel is no longer as luxurious or glamorous as it was advertised in the 50s. Flying is now the closest thing we have to Hell on Earth, and has led me to believe that on this earth, at the moment, we have a man more evil than all the conspirators combined.

All airlines insist on this pre-boarding requirement, but since Ryanair are the worst, they will bear the brunt of my airline hatred: “Please turn up for boarding two hours in advance”. Why in the name of all that is holy is this necessary? Even with the extremely unnecessary security checks, which now mean I arrive at my destination with dirty teeth in case I toothpaste the pilot to death, it has never taken more than one agonising hour to get on a plane. I suppose this is my fault for turning up so early, but dammit I’m only doing as the airline tells me! Ryanair also makes sure that everything else before the flight can be inconvenient as possible. There is a charge for choosing to book online before, and should you have the gall, the arrogance, to show up to the airport to check in, there will be an even bigger charge. To save the embarrassment and inconvenience for the staff of checking in at the airport, you have to book online a maximum of two weeks before the flight. I, of course, have been on trips for two and a half weeks without internet, having to pay extra on the return flight. Hand-luggage over 10 kg? Obesity is fine for air travel, but an 11 kg bag would definitely bring down a multi-million pound jet.

When you board the death tube, the real fun happens. Even owners of slave ships would claim that the leg room is a bit harsh and inhumane. I didn’t discover this problem until I was a teenager, and that was a bigger shock than a breaking voice. Being six foot means that headrests are designed to be the perfect height for maximum discomfort, so I can kiss goodbye to any prospect of napping on the flight. If Ryanair flew to Guantánamo, the prisoners would spill everything to the guards before they arrived out of sheer discomfort. However, I buckled up and listened to the safety announcements which are more for peace of mind than anything else, as I somehow doubt a little whistle will save me from the burning wreckage of a 747 in the Pacific Ocean. Should I survive I’d probably end up on a small island anyway, and star in a seven-season TV show, which will confuse everyone, including the writers. I digress.

I figured that listening to High School Musical would ease my pain (I actually hate High School Musical, but this reference is important for a joke later). Apart from storing 2,000 songs, my £100 iPod also has the capability to bring down a multi-million pound plane. Apparently. I don’t understand this at all. My iPod interfering with the communication seems very unlikely. An air-traffic controller is unlikely to call saying, “FR1066, we know you’re soaring and flying, but how are you breaking free? Over.” (Geddit?! God I’m witty.) Al-Qaeda is supposed to be inventive, but I cannot foresee the next Jihad being brought on by secretly playing rock music on an iPod Shuffle during take-off and landing.

All of this has led me to believe that Michael O’Leary, head of Ryanair, is more evil than Lord Voldemort, the woman who put a cat in the bin, and caravan owners combined. He has done more than Osama Bin Laden to discourage people from travelling by air. I haven’t even mentioned Ryanair’s fantastic scheme of not actually flying to the city you want to go to, but a random airport 100 km outside it. Clearly, to stop this war on comfort and convenience O’Leary has called, he needs to be sent back into the fires of Hell from whence he came. (For legal reasons please don’t go and kill him, it could lead to some awkward questions I’m not sure I could answer…)

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