Swedish Girl In London

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Plane Scary

Whenever I’m going to fly somewhere, it somehow slips my mind that I’m… well, going to fly somewhere. Blame it on the hustle and bustle of your average low-fare voyage, but the fact that I will soon tuck into a Hobbit-sized sandwich filled with an insulation-like substance labelled mock-zarella, all the while hovering 3000 feet above the ground, doesn’t really hit home.

Instead, all my energy is concentrated on trying to determine which of the check-in queues is going to move faster. This is by no means an exact science and involves many unpredictable variables:

1. How efficient does the teenager behind the counter look? Jolly, plump girls are normally to be avoided – they actually take the time to talk to people and delay the check-in process by precious seconds. Honestly, the cheek of them!

No, what you need is the sour little trolley dolly who looks like he is sucking a lime and limits his chat to snapping “did you pack your bags yourself no sharp items in your hand luggage great now eff off” without pausing for breath. That’s more like it.

Note: However, if you are the sort of person who thinks it is necessary to change outfits five times a day during holidays, just to show off a years’ worth of desperate retail therapy – all focussed on one meagre week in the sun – then maybe you should sacrifice the time consideration and opt for the plump girl.

(I have heard rumours that these people exist, though of course I have never met one. Now, can I have a building crane to get this bag off the conveyor belt?)

2. What sort of luggage do your fellow queuers have? This is an important variable. See, one queue might appear shorter, but you will soon discover that the woman who wants to check in her cello, or the enthusiastic golfer brandishing a new set of clubs, are there to slow down proceedings.

3. Does the queue consist mostly of lonely mum-types? Beware, people, beware. These ladies might look solitary right now, but they are actually recon soldiers for a troop of sugared-up infants, sulky teenagers and baffled dads, who will join them at the last instant and add inexplicably large and complicated pieces of luggage.

It will make you scream silently (or aloud) in frustration.

With all this in mind, it is hardly surprising that the mechanics of flying never occur to me until I have actually stepped onto the plane. Actually, it isn’t until I am stripped into my seat (worrying that I must be fatter than the last passenger because of the ridiculously tight seat belt) that I get it.

“Oh, now I remember,” I always think. “I am afraid of flying.”

But by then the engines are revving and we are ready for take-off. Luckily, on my last trip to Madrid – which prompted this whole posting – I was soothed by the recorded Spanish voice telling me not to smoke in the loo. Spanish voices have that effect on me.

It almost made me forget to laugh bitterly at the warning to take care when opening the overhead locker, because things might fall down and hurt you – because that’s what we should worry about when hurtling through the atmosphere in a fragile aluminium shell: tax-free chocolate bouncing down on our heads.


At 6:18 PM, Blogger Zen Wizard said...

Sounds like you should write a book on queue strategy.

I always go counter to my instincts, since I am always wrong.

At 7:15 PM, Blogger Curiosa said...

swedish girl, can you write me an email at fcuriosa@gmail.com? thanks, curiosa

At 8:29 PM, Blogger Steve said...

You should also check whether I happen to be in the line as if your bag is anywhere near mine it is quite likely that it will end up in Tahiti, or on one other hilarious occasion Columbia . . . I don't know what they thought was in there.

At 9:52 AM, Blogger Léonie said...

My general rule of thumb is try and judge which queue contains the people who look the most likely to join me in a rousing game of 'ride the trolley around the terminal until told off by a stewardess', and hop into that one.

Either that or I'm too late to have a choice of queues.

Also I think you might be underestimating the bounce factor of the duty-free chocolate. Plane crashes can be bad, sure, but chocolate from a height can really smart.


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