I cannot help being late or ‘just in time’ for a flight. Maybe me not wearing a watch has something to do with it but now that I am supposed to be a responsible parent, wear sensible shoes and ask the barber for a ‘trim’ instead of a green mowhawk, I find myself being better prepared and often arrive at the airport with time on my hands. Add that to the fact that it is a fight for the seats and everyone now only takes carry-on luggage, finding space to stow your bag anywhere remotely near you means timing is everything.
My latest trip was going without incident. I’d checked in, passed the security checks and was stood in line at the gate with time a plenty. I get to the counter and the girl at the desk scans my ticket and asks me to put my bag in the size testing thing to make sure it was suitable to go as carry-on. All good, except she notices I have a small satchel as well. A satchel that I open up to show her has just a pad of paper and a couple of pens, stuff that I use whilst onboard to doodle and write. She explains that the one item rule is strictly enforced and I will have to check my hand-luggage into the hold. And pay a 50 euro fee as well.
I ask her that if I was able to fold up my satchel and put it into my carry-on case, would that be acceptable? “Yes that would be acceptable so long as it all still fits.” she replies, pointing to the size testing thing.
I do this, it still fits and she is now happy. But before I leave her, I ask if it will be okay, once I am aboard, to remove my satchel so that I may sit with it and use the pad and pens I have inside. Again, her answer is positive.
“So,” I said “Just to be clear on the way things are. I can take two bags to the airport. I can pass security with two bags, I can wander the departures lounge to my hearts content with two bags but, for the short walk from the gate to the aircraft, I am not allowed two bags. Yet when I get onto the plane, having two bags is now no longer a problem?”
“Thats the rules, gold star for you.” She says with a cheesy smile.
The next thing she said left me stunned. Now in my time I’ve come across stupid people. I’ve known a few idiots, dated a couple even and daftness doesn’t often slow me down. But this time the biscuit was taken, the bar of stupidness was raised way up there.
“We have a very busy aircraft this morning sir and we are expecting there to be very little room on-board for all the passenger hand-luggage so we are asking passengers if they would help us by putting their hand-luggage into the aircraft hold. There would be no charge for this and passengers agreeing to help us would be able to board first, after the speedy boarders and mums and prams.”
See, I’m right, the bar has gone into orbit here. “Sweetheart,” I said. Honestly, I really did, no joke, call her ‘sweetheart’ a word I don’t think I have ever used before, ever. But one that summed up my attitude towards her.
“Sweetheart, the whole point of me carrying ‘carry-on’ luggage, the clue being in the word ‘carry-on’, is because unsurprisingly I want to ‘carry’ it on with me. Not let some rodent in baggage handling sift through it, swipe all the good stuff and send it to the carousel with my shirts and underpants hanging out of the seam that broke when he went for the ‘see how far I can throw this bag’ record! I’ve packed this case to ensure I meet your strict weight and size restrictions, had to do it twice in fact, just to meet this airlines sufferable rules, did it with the OCD type zealousness my son displays with his bizarre insistence that each night his slippers must be left beside the bed facing due South 32mm to the right of the bed leg nearest the door. A zealousness that means even if I sneak into his bedroom during the night and set them a few degrees off, something I admit to doing with a certain regularity, when I go to get him up in the morning, they will have been realigned to the correct pole.”
I continued… “I have even put my satchel into the bag so I now have only the one piece of luggage to avoid having to pay the 50 euro cost you were about to hit me with. And I am now stood here, at the gate, having my ticket checked by you, on the very cusp of entering the plane, minutes, possibly just seconds away. Unless you are about to send me to the back of the line or the invisible man and his invisible family of 12 are stood in front of me, how can I possibly get to board the thing any quicker?”
She looked at me… I could see she was still processing what I’d just said. “So is that a No then?”
“Correct, that is indeed a No.”
I walked the 50 foot down the gangway to the plane with only one piece of luggage, boarded the plan, took out my satchel, sat down and decided if I win the lottery I will most definitely buy myself a private jet.