And so it began, the first holiday in five years, an enforced sojourn from holidays due to straightened circumstances and a complete lack of interest in having to go through the ridiculous security measures introduced at UK airports by a panicking beaurocracy who hadn’t the first idea where the next challenge would be coming from.
There is a perfectly good very busy international airport just one mile across the fields from my house and yet we chose not to use it, partly because the holiday we chose was cheap and utilised a much lesser used airport 40 miles away and partly because since it went into private ownership the beaurocrats at Leeds/Bradford Airport have been acting like little shits and I’d prefer not to pander to their regimes.
I like Doncaster Robin Hood Airport, built on the former RAF Finningley site its runway is one of the longest and widest in the country, which is nice to know when you’re sat in a titanium tube and hurtling down it for what seems forever in an attempt to defy gravity, but its nice because being a new airport its not very busy at the moment. Thomson Holidays have adopted it as their base in this region, they too having shunned the little shits at Leeds/Bradford, and on the day we flew to Corfu they only had two flights leaving with little evidence of anything else using the airport at that time, so no long queues at check-in, same stupid questions at check-in, but at least the operators were friendly and seemed as embarrassed to be asking the stupid questions as we were in giving the same automaton answers.
“Have you packed your bags yourself?”
“Yes” (outright lie, the wife did the packing)
“Have you left them unattended at all?”
“No” (but they will be unattended as soon as you whisk them off down the conveyor belt, how confident are you in your own staff ?)
The people on the next check-in desk appeared to be having some problems, an elderly couple with a younger woman and child-in-arms taking what appeared to be enough luggage to last a year seemed to be alarmed by the fact that they had to pay over £100 in excess baggage charges, I was more interested in watching them protest their case rather than answer the check-in stupid questions, the old man was explaining that they lived in Corfu and were taking their daughter and grandchild on holiday, fair enough you’d suppose, but eight pieces of luggage to check in rather than the allowed three ? Might have been easier to ask Pickfords to handle your holiday luggage rather than Thomson Air old man, thats what happens when you book a holiday and don’t bother to read the obvious paragraph that tells you what your weight limit is, its not even small print.
And so through to the dreaded security checks – here’s the thing, I’m the client, I’ve booked this holiday in good faith and have paid in advance to use these facilities, I’m depending on the airport to get me and my fellow passengers onto the aircraft, with our luggage, in a safe and orderly fashion with the minimum of fuss and delay and if you, the security “experts”, consider there to be a terrorist risk then I’d expect you to be able to identify that risk properly and deal with it – instead you assume that everyone is a terrorist and force us all to remove clothing and accessories, have everything we carry x-rayed, and have ourselves metal-detected using equipment that has no decision making function and will sound the alarms when every woman walks through it who is wearing a bra that contains even the smallest amount of metal.
There were three couples in our party, the lads walked through the security checks unhindered, all three women were stopped and had to be hand searched, they never discovered what it was that had caused the alarm when my wife walked through the rubbish machinery but she discovered it later – it was the metal pocket stud on her Levi style jeans – machines that are that sensitive and operators who have never seen a metal stud in a pair of jeans – we entrust our security to these people.
But onwards and upwards and a smooth and uneventful flight across Northern Europe and down to the Med and Corfu, I like flying, especially when sat behind the wings so that you see all of the mechanical stuff that goes on to keep you in the air, slowing down and reducing altitude in a modern aircraft is a wonder of hydraulics and pure brute force, the wings which are designed to continuously lift the aircraft as long as it keeps going forward are suddenly converted into wings that are designed to make the aircraft stall like a paper dart and the only thing that stops you falling from the sky like said paper dart is the subtle way in which the lift destroying techniques are administered, and how quickly.
Landing at Corfu hasn’t changed in the 31 years since I last arrived there, if you’re sat on the right hand side of the aircraft like I was you see nothing but sea until the wheels hit the ground, a little pulse-racing even though you are already aware that this would happen, and then you are down and its 8pm local time, the sun is setting, its at least 30 degrees warmer outside than it was in Doncaster and you holiday is starting right now – there is only one more stressful thing to do – collect your luggage.
The six of us stood at the luggage carousel and watched in vain for our suitcases to appear as 200 other people quickly found theirs and disappeared off to start their holidays. After ten minutes or so no more luggage appeared on the carousel and we stood and looked at each other with question marks written on all our faces, what happens now, did our luggage ever make it to the aircraft in Doncaster, should there be a form to fill in now, does our insurance cover this, how much of a coincidence is it that all of our party haven’t received any of their luggage ?
And just as we were wondering how long a person could wear one pair of underpants during a holiday (world record held by me standing at seven days – another story) someone pointed out that there was another carousel whirring around with six pieces of baggage circling forlornly just ten feet behind our backs, sure enough there was and sure enough they were our bags.
Time for an illustration in the holiday journal that I kept, thought I …