Come Fly With Me
Updated: Jan 2
Who would’ve thought that anyone could miss it? Truth be told, when I was a child, I used to love flying. The air of excitement, packing for a trip, even the wait at the airport and the sweet smell of the cabin, are all very pleasant memories. I started at an early age – when I was five. Or perhaps I travelled by air before that and just don’t remember. I once sat in the cockpit, as we landed in Hong Kong, an unforgettable experience.
However, with Covid-19, lockdown and the associated restrictions, it’s been more than a year since I took to the skies. Believe it or not, I miss it.
"I want to eat crappy airline food"
As I grew older, my liking for air travel gradually diminished, eventually becoming an abhorrence. I hated the long queues, endless waits, anxiety over missing luggage, passengers who reclined their seats the moment the fasten seatbelt signs were switched off and pathetic excuse for meals. To be fair, I spent equal amounts of time flying first and business class, but company travel usually meant economy, particular on domestic sectors. Two years ago, I was flying weekly to Dublin out of Heathrow, with the first step into the terminal 5 making me wonder what the hell I was doing.
Honestly, I don’t think about it much. I have a ticket to Dubai – rather, a voucher, as I was unable to complete a flight. I love Dubai. It’s not the shopping. There’s something about the place that appeals to me – perhaps the sheer variety of architecture on display, and as an exemplar, the Burj Khalifa. I’ve travelled extensively over the years, with my liking for big cosmopolitan cities with their vibrancy, most appealing. Tokyo, Sydney, Singapore, Rome, Paris, Amsterdam and of course, the Big Apple are amongst my favourites. Although not my favourites, I also have fond memories of Mumbai, Delhi, Melbourne, Dublin, LA, Moscow and St. Petersburg.
I remember partying in the Big Easy during Mardi Gras, spending two weeks over three trips to Vegas without gambling, pub hopping in Bangalore – yes, that’s a thing to do if you’re there, walking around for hours through the streets of the idyllic city centre of Perth, and being chilled to the bone in Helsinki.
I want to go to all those places. I want to eat crappy airline food. I won’t mind queueing up through airport security or spending anxious minutes scanning baggage carousels. I’ll even tolerate the plastic smiles of tired cabin crew, even the child kicking the back of my seat to pass the time. I want to use cramped airport toilets, wondering why, oh, why do I have to pee? I’ll listen patiently to the saccharine announcements, watch the security video that’s exactly the same on every flight, warning us (lying through their teeth) that the procedure may differ from carrier to carrier. I’ll try to enjoy the edited movies on miniscule screens, listening through scratchy earphones with passengers jostling past me – I prefer the aisle seat for some reason, perhaps to make a quick getaway in case of a crash landing.
I won’t even whinge about the long walks around airport terminals, the exorbitant prices at duty free’s, nor the stupid rules at Heathrow that makes life hell for those wanting to use a minicab.
I miss flying. I miss going to places that I love. I miss all of it. I feel for the thousands of airline staff, hospitality industry personnel, and countless others whose livelihood depends directly or indirectly on air travel, who are out of work and suffering.
I do enjoy working from home, the money companies are saving away from brick-and-mortar establishments, not having to commute and the lack of traffic on the streets.
Is it possible to have the best of both worlds? Only time will tell.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my musings. Even writing this piece has made me feel better. Hope it does it for you too.