With the influx of budget airlines European travel may now have become more accessible but unless you are super rich it has definitely lost its excitement and glamour.
I must be getting old but I remember when ‘airport time’ was as much a part of the holiday as sun and sand. Arriving at the airport was exciting and leisurely with lots to do and see and buy! The check in queues were fast and efficient leaving you plenty of time to wind down, shop, indulge in a good browse to select your holiday read, chat about the adventure to come over coffee and even have a massage before your flight was called.
Notwithstanding the necessary additional security checks, now, by the time you reach the overcrowded, manic and less than relaxed lounge your flight is already being called and the whole experience is dominated by queues, self-check in rage and permanently reaching for your bank card as everything and I mean everything is chargeable and considered an extra.
The past few times I have travelled to Europe I have felt frustrated, stressed and fleeced way before I have taken temporary ownership of my teeny, tiny space called a seat on the plane.
I remember when people checked in luggage carrying only a camera and handbag onto the aircraft, today you are lucky if you get on board without being taken out by people dragging carry-on luggage – it’s a herd mentality and only the fit get on -board unscathed.
I remember when air stewardesses were glamorous, ultra-efficient and a whirlwind to behold, passionate about service and going out of their way to make your journey as pleasant as possible. Who remembers getting a sweet before take-off and landing? Hot towels mid-way through? Blankets and pillows? Today they are simply glorified dinner ladies and Janitors pushing products up and down the aisle in an attempt to get you to part with more of your cash before you arrive at your destination.
I remember when everyone was served the same meal and it was a treat to uncover the treasures on the tray – from peeling back the foil lid on the hot meal to the perfect one portion cheese and crackers. Today it I like being in a canteen with a myriad of smells with fellow passengers bringing their own food on board and the airline offering snacks, burgers and set meals, but beware, even if you opt to partake in the not so delicious on-board fayre unless you are sat in first 20 seats the likelihood of getting your first choice is slim anyway!
Instead of fun, airports have become bus terminals – dirty, cold, unloved, over crowded and miserable places with confused passengers, over tired commuters and disengaged staff and don’t get me started on those pull along cases –just small enough to pass as hand luggage being dragged along on mass at a pace to bring down a gazelle in full flow, let alone innocent bystanders looking forward to their holiday!
I am reminded of Renee Zellweger’s character Dorothy in Jerry Maguire when she says..
‘First class travel, it used to be a better meal, now it’s a better life.’