Thursday, April 21, 2011

5 Reasons I Hate to Fly

I travel often, and when I do it tends to be long-distance. We're talking 54-hour odysseys from Cape Town to San Francisco, or Minneapolis to Oslo. I used to get a thrill out of it like any newbie, but the sheen has long since faded, and while I still love to travel, I look at the journey less as part of the fun and more as some sort of penance to pay before I can enjoy myself. Here's a few of the reasons I hate to fly:

1. Lack of sleep - There are two kinds of people: those who can sleep on planes and those who can't. I can't. Ever. There was one blissful haul from Senegal to Atlanta where an industrial-strength muscle relaxer put me into a drooly coma, But generally my brain refuses to cooperate. There are always factors that contribute to this. On a recent flight from Joburg to Paris, I had the pleasure of sitting next to a three-year-old who cried non-stop for seven hours, even when he was asleep.

2. Long layovers - On long trips, sometimes you can't avoid a layover of more than three hours. Maybe it was cheaper, or maybe the only other flight was too quick of a turn-around and you didn't want to chance missing your connection. While some airports have entertainment to keep you busy on long layovers, usually you're too tired to do anything but eat and try to find somewhere to sleep. I once sat at Charles de Gaulle airport for two hours, a twitchy zombie.

3. Airport security - You stand in queue after queue. You're tired and disoriented. You have to fill out paperwork with the threat of deportation should you forget something. People make you take off your shoes and put humiliating paper booties on. They rummage through your intimates and confiscate your snacks, then give you suspicious stares and quiz you about your travel plans. Oh, and now we all get naked pictures taken, or a good old-fashioned feel-up. Yay.

4. Airplane climate - The conditions on planes are terrible. They cool them to nearly the point of freezing, and now charge you for flimsy blankets. The recirculated air is bone-dry, leaving your skin crying for the moisteriser you weren't allowed to carry on. You're parched, but the sugar in the orange juice is just dehydrating you further and the flight attendant is giving you the evil eye for asking for a fifth glass of water.

5. Class wars - One of the worst parts of flying is knowing that you could be so much more comfortable if you had more money. If you'd paid for an upgrade you could be snoozing in a flat bed, or drinking champagne and having your steak done how you like it; instead of craning your neck to see the (either blue or red-tinted) tv screen twenty feet away and trying to choke down the breakfast sausage. It's the same in airports, when you didn't quite shell out enough to pay for the fancy lounge with the comfortable seats and showers.

1 comment:

  1. Ugh... I hate trying to sleep in airports. Why don't they wake up (pun not intended!) and put in beds for us poor travelers?