Just lately I seem to be feeling that the joy has diminished somewhat from travelling by air. Whether its because I’ve been enjoying feeling settled in my beloved Yorkshire, enjoying nature and a slower pace of life, or whether its because I’m getting older and can’t be bothered with hassle, or maybe its that the world feels more unsettled than ever these days.
'Safety fear' has gone beserk in my opinion, queues of people having their toothpaste removed from their bags, childrens water pistols thrown in bins, flimsy wooden bamboo knitting needles being judged as 'dangerous'. The 'best' for me was some zealous security guard telling me that my 5ml of Bulgarian Rose Essential Oil may me highly flammable and he may have to confiscate it! I refused to leave until it had been analysed for explosive characteristics. (The fact that it actually does have explosive power to the female body, I thought I'd keep to myself.)
Obviously some aspects of travel have changed for the better over the years. Travelling to the Far East is much quicker, planes used to have to stop for refueling half way and there are far fewer accidents. Safety from terrorist nutcases seem to have overtaken fears we travellers once had from mechanical faults and human error.
I remember 38 years ago travelling to Sri Lanka and the plane would stop in Madras or somewhere. People would get on the plane with their 2 burner stoves and a couple of chickens as hand luggage. I even saw someone bring a goat on the plane! A friend who came to visit in Sri Lanka had taken the cheapest flight he could find from London with Aeroflot via Moscow. When he told the stewardess half of his seat belt was missing she responded by saying “ ah don’t vorry, thees plane is due to be scrapped ven vee get to Russia!”
Flying used to be such a glamorous job for flight attendants but these days a decline in manners and respect for others in general seems to have tarnished the travelling gleam somewhat. I was shocked to read about a flight attendant starting a Facebook page where passengers can post pictures of other passengers to try to bring some awareness to this lack of concern for other people.
Images posted to the “Passenger Shaming” Facebook and Instagram pages show how many selfish travellers don’t really such a thing as flight etiquette.
Twitter has recently been awash with snaps featuring the hash tag #passengershaming, the fact that the pages have more than 350,000 followers proves that a silent rebellion is growing.
From dealing with surly customers, discarded dirty nappies and snacks dumped all over seats, flight attendants seem to get their fair share of horrible tasks to sort out.
Some of the photos that I’ve seen are just awful.
Some flyers are pictured poking their dirty toenails through gaps in the seat in front, while others remove their socks and shoes to thrust their smelly feet into the air.
One flyer is seen filing their fingernails, oblivious to the dust cloud that will soon be swept through the cabin.
Thoughtless passengers may be one thing, but also surprisingly I read about the increase in crime taking place on flights, particularly around Asia. Thieves seek to steal valuables from the carry on bags of other passengers, which are stored in overhead bins. Often the victims are not aware of the theft until long after disembarking the plane. It seems it is common for thieves to sit in the back rows of the plane, observing cases in which stowed bags are behind or away from their owners, then systematically removing them while passengers are asleep or watching movies, taking it to the back of the plane where they can steal any valuables, then returning the case. The victim is completely oblivious.
So now it seems we also have to lock our hand baggage cases too which makes our wonderful security checks even more fun. I was told by someone that they had experienced this first hand after being given their expenses for a forthcoming trip in cash which was in their briefcase when boarding the plane, but was missing when they arrived at their hotel.
Also applying to me as I usually stow my handbag under the seat in front, one female passenger had her purse stolen from her bag while she slept!
Having said all this, which sounds like a whinge and a moan, (perhaps I really should stay hibernating till Spring!); I’m excited that the World has become a smaller place with the growth in air travel. More people than ever are able to see places they never thought they would, I guess it’s just about being in the know and keeping our wits about us while we travel.