Tuesday, 1 October 2013

The lost art of travel

I don’t remember the heyday of travel. Way before my time. But you see it don’t you - in films or on Downton Abbey. The days when travellers wore their Sunday best, and strolled onto steam trains or stepped elegantly into propeller planes.

Flying was a luxury for those people who wore fur and knew not of ‘the weekend.’ You and I would have been on a coach trip to the seaside with a scotch egg in our back pocket.

But now, thanks to the wonder of budget airlines, we can all take to the skies. But there’s no Sunday best or elegance in the matter, as I discovered on a recent trip with our lovely friends at Ryanair.

Queuing for her onboard scratch-cards
First there’s the stampede. The flight is called and we run. Bags and limbs flailing as we sprint across the airport. Picture the scene of the Pamplona Bull Run and you’re half way there. Next it’s time to be manhandled into a waiting area where I learn how battery chickens reside. And that’s before we’ve even made it onto the plane, where cramped quarters bring out the ‘best’ in my comrades, especially when it’s announced we’ve missed the take off slot. But don’t worry, there are plenty of cheese and ham paninis on sale to keep our spirits up; cheap at half the 8 euro price tag.

And as you haven’t paid for an allocated seat, priority boarding, or simply been mugged on your way onboard, you’ll have to sit on a stranger’s lap the whole way. They’ll give you an infant’s seat belt if you’re lucky. Ah well, chocks-away.

But Ryanair, what you don’t realise is that the triumph is mine. Even with your detailed baggage dimensions and weight limit and strict policy enforcement there was no way I was paying £70 for the privilege of luggage. And now, sweet smugness. No check-in queue for me. No waiting at the carousel. No chance of you sending my bag to the wrong side of the world. Oh no.

Of course I haven’t really got enough clothes for a week, and there’s no glamour in washing your smalls in the hotel sink or running out of shampoo, but we’ll just gloss over that.

Travel’s not glamorous anyway.