My month will be bookended by two trips interstate – one personal, one for work.
I love flying. Getting shoved back in the seat when the pilot guns it down the runway makes you feel like a drag racer. I love the physics of lift, thrust, weight and that other one … drag (thanks, Google).
Picking out landmarks in your hometown as it reduces below you on ascent adds another dimension and perspective. Spotting your house is a thrill for some reason.
Working out where you are from the coastline when it reappears on descent is a lovely reminder of how pretty the northern coastline of Tasmania is: blue waters, sandy beaches and green pastures all contained under a vaulted blue sky.
Most of all I love how once ensconced in that metal tube at cruising altitude, the world fades into the hum of the engines.
While more and more flights offer WiFi and apps to watch television and movies, analogue, not digital, is my choice.
A chance to crack open a book and have a minimum of 45 minutes reading without being interrupted is terrific.
But if the flight is long-haul, then watching the latest movies is a treat the parents of toddlers only dream of at home.
No longer do I have to endure the 537th viewing of a group of do-goody talking dogs with superpowers who are called to save the incompetent folk of Adventure Bay. (Apologies to the parents who now have that dreaded song stuck on loop in their brain.)
It really is paradise. It is just a shame that other passengers have to ruin it. I’m not a snob but wouldn’t it be great if people didn’t act like the plane was their loungeroom or a B&S ball? Air travel should revert to when people got dressed up to take a flight (minus the smoking, or course).
On a recent flight, I’d never seen so many hand, knuckle and neck tattoos – and that was on the women. It was 8am and one duo downed four bourbon and cola cans before the captain introduced himself. I was a little drunk just watching.
And I know it is risky territory questioning the appropriateness of activewear given its ubiquity, but, come on, are you about to pump out 30 squats in the galley? Do you need the range of movement that only skin-tight yoga pants and oversized singlets provide to get your bag out of the overhead?
No you don’t. Put on some real clothes or run to Melbourne in your Sketchers.
Wouldn’t it be great if air travel reverted to when people got dressed to take a flight and didn’t act like it was their loungeroom or a B&S ball?
Just getting on to the plane in the first place is a lesson in Darwinism.
How people who arrive at the head of the security screening line after 15 minutes in the queue to only then start fumbling through their pockets to dump out coins, phones, and lighters, boggles me. Where did you think you where? Did you think the guy with the wand was a magician?
Then their bags get repeatedly screened while exasperated guards pull out laptops, deodorant cans, scissors, and nunchucks.
At the departure gate, they block the path the moment the flight is announced like Lemmings while the truly inept board the plane from the rear stairs when they are seated at the front or vice-versa. Like human-sized salmon swimming against the stream, they try and fight their way against the tide of people coming the other way – if only there was bear waiting to maul them.
Once the saintly stewards stand like Moses holding back the Red Sea for them to find their seat, which they haven’t checked the letter of, by the way, they then battle to put their “hand” luggage into the lockers.
Seriously, has no one played Tetris? It’s not that hard. It’s like watching a three-year-old try to push the square block through the triangle hole, except three year olds eventually get it and probably know what a dodecahedron is.
I have an idea that will save air travel for misanthropes like me. It might actually lead to greater productivity gains: an airport for people who know how to efficiently check-in, clear security, board, and stow their luggage with no fuss.
It could be extrapolated to all sorts of human functions some cannot manage: ordering a coffee, using an ATM, or driving.
One cafe, bank and road system for people who can use them effectively and another for those who stare blankly at the menu once they’ve reached the head of the queue, cannot remember their account or PIN, and do not indicate.
John Lennon could only dream about this type of utopia. Imagine the harmony.
- Mark Baker is Fairfax Tasmania managing editor