Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Living on the edge

Me at the airport

I'm usually unfashionably early to the point of paranoia when it comes to catching flights, trains and buses, or when arriving at venues well in advance of the time specified by people I'm meeting. I've never understood people who are always late, which is sometimes just rude but other times could really screw up their day - such as when catching the first crucial flight in a sequence of flights that you really can't afford to miss.

You at the airport

But now I've experienced what it's like for these slackers when I slept through my alarm and woke up more than three hours later than planned, on the morning I needed to catch a flight from Seoul to Kuala Lumpur, connecting to Bangkok, connecting again several days later to Sri Lanka. As I pulled on my clothes, grabbed my prepared-in-advance bags and functionally urinated at slightly higher pressure than I would if I'd woken up at 04:00 rather than 07:10, I ran the kilometre-or-so to the bus station telling myself (probably audibly) that I might just about make it.

This should give you some idea of how unnecessarily over-prepared I normally like to be.

'Why do we have to cut these things so damn close?'

It was awful. I tried to reason that stressing about it wouldn't make the express airport bus go any faster on its predetermined route, but that didn't stop me making 'come on, come on' encouragements (definitely audibly this time). I couldn't think about anything apart from the pleading I'd have to do as the check-in counter was pulled shut as I ran towards it, or watching the plane cruise nonchalantly onto the runway as I ran towards the gate. I was out of my comfort zone and finally realised why some people talk about airports as if they're the most stressful places in the world - maybe if you were more organised, and took along a little work or a nice book to keep you occupied at you sat patiently for the hour or so before the earliest possible check-in time, you wouldn't have so much to worry about.

Though I needn't have worried, because there were so many goddamn last-minute slackers and somnambulists that it turns out the airlines just compensate for us. I think I ran up to the check-in counter just before it was scheduled to close, but there didn't seem to be any signs of shutting up shop, and the time interval they gave me for getting to the boarding gate before it closed was actually less time than it took me to queue for the security screening, immigration and the shuttle bus to the next terminal. If things actually ran according to schedule, I would have missed my flight bang-to-rights - but fortunately, there were plenty of other lazy people keeping the punctual people waiting.

I would have happily missed this flight if it meant stamping out laziness and encouraging people to get the hell out of bed and make their appointments on time. What makes you so important that the rest of us should wait around for you? And while you're at it, loosen your shoes and separate your laptop from your bag before you get to the conveyor belt, that'll save everyone valuable time. And when you're on the plane, try to sit still - all that bouncing around isn't very considerate to the guy behind you, who's already struggling to work on his laptop after you've tilted the chair back further than they should realistically design them to bend. The exit doors don't open earlier if you're standing up, either - why not relax with a book or sit chatting to a friend once the seatbelt sign flickers out, rather than impatiently standing around and causing avoidable Cairo-style congestion? You all have far too much baggage anyway, it's ridiculous.

I've gone off-topic a bit.

If you feel your relaxed, selfish attitudes have been mercilessly criticised and that I'm being a bit of an anal asshole about this (for a change), you can take some small comfort in the fact that I've now taken so many flights, I've started to physically suffer from cabin pressure. During my flight to Seoul in December I had a throbbing pain in my right ear, and this time my left eye really ached and watered for about 20 minutes. I wonder which body part will torment me on my next flight, in this cross between Buckaroo, Operation and Mr Potato Head? I'm also pretty sure today's stress took an energy bar or two off my remaining life force, so coupled with my appalling diet and general health, you'll almost certainly outlive me - you win.

Happy flying, everyone! Oh hang on, I'm not supposed to take flights any more... screw the planet, flights are ace. It's just a shame about all these bloody humans, but if AirAsia keeps offering such ludicrous deals for environmentally devastating flights, it shouldn't be long before that problem sorts itself out.


  1. My record, without delays or anything, is turning up to Chennai airport at around 11am for a 8.55pm flight. This was caused by: not wanting to trudge my luggage around all day, not wanting to be in India any more and, of course, the excitement of meeting up with a certain someone in Bangkok. Luckily I had a hefty book with me to see me through.

    I think I spent longer in Aberdeen airport because I messed up flight times (I turned up a day late), and the cheapest option was wayyy later in the day. Rather than go home and home out again I just stuck it out.

    My biggest annoyance at airports is people who don't take their laptops out of their bags before the scanners. I refuse to believe that so many people have never flown before that they don't know the procedures.

    1. And then I woke you up unfairly early after 30 minutes of sleep because I was excited to show you fake driving licences/Arizona State University degrees and too many tattoo parlours.

    2. And sex tattoos! Hey, now that you're back in Bangkok (you've probably left... but I'll pretend I'm talking to back in time Dave), you should finally get one of those.

  2. "And while you're at it, loosen your shoes and separate your laptop from your bag before you get to the conveyor belt, that'll save everyone valuable time" YES! THIS!

    When we went to Sardinia we had to get the 0625 flight to Gatwick first: it's a commuter flight, so everyone was in business suits and we got through security/onto the plane super fast.

    Then London to Olbia was a touristy flight so everyone was taking AGES to get on the plane. WHY DO PEOPLE INSIST ON STANDING IN THE AISLES, PUT YOUR LUGGAGE IN THE LOCKER AND SIT DOWN AS QUICK AS POSSIBLE, YOU FLANGES!

    As for that cabin pressure thing, I've been getting that recently too. It's awful: do you get it in your sinuses? I get it under my eyes and at my temple and it's bloody agony. I thought my eye was going to pop out last time :(

    1. That sinus thing sounds right.

      And I refuse to ever try to make money from this website by selling my shit. This is for love! (and procrastinating from earning money).

    2. Ah I get it. You're holding out for a deal from the travel channel, eh?