Awaiting the single security officer’s baleful glare at JFK I mused upon life, standing in a single queue along with gentry and scarified riff-raff, ageing Africans (like me) and students sucking on their ubiquitous water bottles. It has come to this. Aviation, the single-minded leap into the ether to flirt with the physics gods which has mesmerised man and woman has instead morphed into a Soviet bread queue. Passengers are in a Kafkaesque play and punished for purchasing a ticket to explore the atmosphere at 948kph and, more importantly, get from A to B.
The single security officer processed us like a dockyard worker singles out sheep and chases ewes, employing just enough malice to be tacitly violent yet within government regulations.
We prepared ourselves for the prodding and pummelling. Airports are worrisome zones where personal security and national interest collide rigorously at the x-ray machine. Raise both hands and step into the machine, spread you legs. Shoes already off. Standing in the sweat of a hundred thousand people with my dubious socks.
At that point I was futbug’d by the heartless herder of happy holidayers, Gumshoe McDump. The great thing about America is there is literally not difference between the venom and invective targeted as friendly tourist visitors by both male and female security officers. Loving the equality, people.
I had clambered aboard the Emirates Flight in Dubai 17 hours earlier and experienced the delights of a 14 hour flight. Just enough sleep to ignore McDump. She was large and imposing and … smiled. I smiled. The Thai woman and her mother who’d sat in the same row smiled. One big happy transport family, thinly aware that our backs were swollen and our lamb-to-the-slaughter-eyes red and blurred.
Lay on special flights for no-baggage or hand luggage only passengers then escalate and expedite their experience
This is now the time to consider a revolutionary idea, which is to allow passengers who want to embark on international flights without baggage whatsoever to be escalated to a class above First Class. They must be treated like aviation royalty and provided with gilded horses, caviar, reflexology and free theatre.
Those who carry baggage must be slowed down to a crawl. These overloaded pack people of the stratosphere should be punished for the luxury of carrying their cupboards around. The rest of us galloping across the globe with our carry-on luggage must be given preference. It’s the right thing to do. Think about the thousands of tonnes of textiles moving back and forth on board passenger aircraft with no apparent gain for proper travellers.
And if you’re going to bring a flat screen TV for goodness sake people, take a ship.