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Thursday, 13 June 2013

Flights, and flights of wine.

There's something about travel that brings time into entirely new dimensions. I stand on the railway platform and a three minute wait becomes a lifetime. I watch the seconds counting down to the point where the train is supposed to pull into the station. The clock reads 8:19:01, 02, 03... It seems to slow time down. Are the people around me sipping their coffee more slowly, flicking the pages of their throw away commuter-rags at stop-motion speed? It seems that way.

 Up with the sun

These days, of course it’s more about airport travel. At around 4.30am on a Monday, or 3pm on a Thursday (in situation normal) I get up and get out to the airport. And then the fun begins. Have you seen Up In The Air? I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone as slick as George Clooney at getting through security without seamless unloading and reloading of various items. I try my best: laptop out and in a bin by itself. (“Yes, I know!” I scream silently at the security attendants. “I do this every week. I know your name, Jerome, and we’ve been here before!”) Shoes off. Of course in the summer this is extremely pleasant. I love reaching the airport at 5.15am only to realise I’m sharing my foot germs with 3000 other travellers as I walk through the security screening.

 Happiness is an on time PM flight home with a G&T

The time to get to the gate is paramount. To get settled. To eye up the competition for upgrades (no chance of this on a commuter flight at 6am; every chance at 1pm travelling with grandparents, college students and weekenders. If it’s the afternoon I may seek out a glass of wine or a G&T. If it’s the morning I just want to sit down and be quiet, away from the children running around screaming and the non-frequent fliers who don’t appreciate the silence that is the code of the regular business traveller.

 The road home...on a wing (and not) a prayer

Before that comes the security clearance, which is always fun. Firstly, I now really enjoy the contemptuous death stares “How dare you be in a priority lane? You clearly don’t deserve it even if you’ve spent $50,000 on travel this year..” which (being British and a lapsed catholic I so enjoy).
On various days the fact that I wear a Nike fuel band is either: a) something that means I need to be patted down for having, and delays me; b) something that I am told I don’t need to take off or c) something that Mr / Ms. Security feel a burning need to chat about. Which is fine, unless I’m in a TravelRage™ in which case I need to be cheerfully ignored.

Delta Blues. And not even in Economy Comfort 

And then there’s the rest of it. In airports a lot of people are having fun getting paralytic-ally drunk. Depending on the time of day, I might be one of them. However, at 7am I’d be unlikely to be joining in with the guy next to me in first (OK, so I got upgraded) who ordered back-to-back screw drivers. This is not too bad depending on how bad the accompanying behaviour is. It’s not great if the screwdrivers are accompanied by fried eggs and ‘home fries’ (little roasted potatoes, heavy on the grease, for you non-Americans). Grease+Eating Sounds+Alcohol = we might as well be going to Ibiza. Why not take off your shirt into the mix? Why not start singing? Why not take both the arm rests?

Today I find myself in the unusual position of travelling back on a Thursday, which my work commitments haven't permitted for a long while. I have, however, forgotten the Travel Gods' rule number one for Thursday trips home: the weather will be AWFUL. No matter it was 80 degrees (that's upper 20s, Celsius enthusiasts); no matter that there was not a cloud in the sky. That was Wednesday. Today is Thursday, and you're going home, which means rain, snow, freak tornadoes, hail, hurricane strength winds. Fun times for all.

Hooray for flights of wine

So here I find myself. It's 5.20pm. My flight leaves at 5.25. Oh, sorry, I mean is *scheduled* to leave at 5.25. It's currently floating between the 7pm-8pm mark. I'm just hoping not to be re-routed to Philadelphia and left there to fend for myself (thanks to my friend B who kindly let me share his ride to Manhattan).If anyone is in any doubt that consulting is glamorous let this decide you. There's only so long you can be jet set before you have to throw the towel in and check in to yet another hotel because you're so tired of the travel delays that you can't take anymore. And with that, why yes, I'll have another flight of roses. It is the summer after all, even if all evidence is to the contrary in NYC. Cheers.

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