Things Not To Read This Weekend If You’re Flying


Sunday morning and I’m sat in a car park not too far from Stansted airport waiting for the AA to come and pick me and my still broken car up to tow it home. (Buying new AA membership was less than half the price of paying for Green Flag to tow me home or to hire a tow truck. My dad is a genius!)

Sporadically planes fly close-by, taking off to or coming back from destinations infinitely more glamorous than Birchanger service station. I feel a stab of envy at each plane.

But not for long.

Air travel has always made me nervous. My lack of understanding of physics has obviously meant that my comprehension of aerodynamics equates to ‘it must be WITCHCRAFT.’ So I’ve never really trusted it as a means of travel.


I’d have loved to been an air steward in my younger days – days before Ryan Air and EasyJet sucked any glamour from flying, before terrorists threats, when an upgrade meant proper cutlery, not a plastic knife and fork. Not that I ever got upgraded, but there was always that hope.

Oh, yeah, I could have rocked the uniform. And the stay overs in cool locations.

The only problem would have been the actual flying.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…except the chance of actually properly dying when things go wrong when you work in the air was too high for me.

But, even for the less nervous flyer 2014 has surely brought some doubts. The complete disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17… At the very least don’t fly Malaysia Airlines!

So as each plane flies by I half expect it to spontaneously combust and fall to the ground, the flying voodoo having worn off.

I try to take my mind off my wait and expectations with some light reading. A copy of November’s Vanity Fair and yesterday supplement from The Guardian. It doesn’t taken long to realise that I’m glad I’m staying grounded.

Vanity Fair, pages 108-117: The Endless Holiday, a feature on the jet set lifestyle of the rich and famous of the 50s and 60s. Sinatra and Ava Gardner, Jackie Kennedy, Taylor and Burton, Grace Kelly in sharp tailoring and fur stepping off private jets.


The so-called beautiful people flitted about with unprecedented ease.

*Sigh* Where did it all go so wrong? Why isn’t flying like that now, rather than becoming more akin to airborne cattle transportation? Nobody would have been wearing bright orange nylon and charging £5 for a plastic cup of water back then. Luggage would have been large and matching, rather than as light as possible to meet hand luggage restrictions. It would have gone in the hold and made it to the other end. You would have travelled without mile high copulations hogging the toilet, shrink-wrapped plastic meat in gelatinous sauce and without having endure someone’s head in your personal space for the duration of the flight (plus time spent waiting on the runway) because they just have to have their seat fully reclined, whilst a small child persistently kicked your seat for 12 hours.

Result of said reading: abject envy and despair at how much air travel has changed to the worst.

But worse, Vanity Fair, pages 158-165 & 193-197: The Human Factor, or how, in the event of an emergency you will die as the pilots won’t know how to cope (and have probably been too busy partying and shagging around to function properly anyway).


The incoherence of the pilots seems to have been rooted in the very advances in piloting and aircraft design that have improved airline safety.

And, although ignorance is bliss, my betting is that if you were sat at a Departures gate confronted with the article, you couldn’t NOT read it.

Thus, result of said reading: abject horror and despair at having to ever step on an aircraft again. Someone pass the tranquillisers!

And for any poor sod who bought The Guardian to bide the time waiting for a flight yesterday, the fear would have only been compounded by reading page of the Weekend section: Experience: I was on a plane that blew up. Which was pretty much as it sounds. Ok, exactly as it sounds. And not Malaysia Airlines this time.


…There was a huge bang…The plane had been torn in half…most of the back seats were no longer there….I looked down and saw a body on the runway.

Result of said reading: yep, I’m happy never to fly ever again!!!

So, all in all, it ended up that, even with the lure of Duty Free, I was happy to NOT be jetting off anywhere and instead watching my car getting hitched onto the back of an AA van.


Which is probably just as well, as if the car is as buggered as I fear, I won’t be able to afford a holiday anywhere for a very long time yet.


10 thoughts on “Things Not To Read This Weekend If You’re Flying”

  1. And now I wish I hadn’t read this!!! I am a very nervous flyer. I’ve only tried it twice – first time was 13 years ago and I finally picked up enough courage to try again last year…. which wasn’t a wonderful experience but not as bad as I remembered. On the strength of this, and deciding I can’t go everywhere by boat or train we’ve just booked to fly to Barcelona in October……. and then you write this……….

    1. Sorry. 😦
      Barcelona is wonderful though and well worth the flight. You won’t be flying over countries with dubious political stability/areas devoid of air traffic control (I won’t fly over Africa for that very reason)/through tropical storms/on Malaysian Airlines, plus it’s short haul so your pilots won’t have been partying it up with the flight crew on their layover, so fortune will definitely be on your side. Xx

  2. You know, it is sad when you think of what flying used to be and what it is now. I remember flying as a child and I was given a whole little bag of goodies from the stewardesses and there was tons of legroom (though to be fair I was quite a bit smaller). Also, the crew was dressed so well! (Of course, I have this same argument about how teachers dress so poorly now). Most interesting to look at this the way you have it presented…not a perspective I’ve taken before. Do hope the car is okay…..

    1. I think there’s a chance I may fly before I get to drive again, but only because the car may be terminal and I can’t afford another one. (I’m guessing, when one AA man says to the other ‘You don’t even want to look at that engine!’ it’s not a good sign.)
      I wish flying was as glamorous as it used to be. The invention of the extendable tunnel made me sad. Walking through a plastic tube instead of down the stairs onto the Tarmac and getting that first hit of heat from your destination may have been where it all started to go wrong.
      You can’t imagine Sinatra walking through a plastic tube after all.

      1. Am sorry about your car…..I had alot of old cars when we were first starting out and I’ve had numerous great comments from mechanics…..I think mechanics are not taught tact in any form. And no, Sinatra and a plastic tube would just never be right.

    1. I know! Thanks to this weekend’s reading I never want to travel again!
      Still, at least I wasn’t sat in a departure lounge thinking I’d take my mind off the prospect of imminent death with some entertaining reading and then…NOOOOOO!!! A you just know some poor sod would have been.
      Although, in fairness, as there’s been no more news of any plane disasters over the weekend, they would have made it to their destination, albeit with the help of an extra large drink and possibly medication.

  3. You are hysterical! I hate flying and avoid it at all costs. It’s like I’m in childbirth as we take off and I usually dislocate some poor family member’s hand to make me feel better. Long haul is the worst – any sign of turbulence and I’m saying my own Last Rites.

    1. It’s been years since I’ve been on a plane. But I never enjoyed it. Airport security is stressful – my passport photo is a travesty, but not one single passport controller has ever queried it not being me for a start! I swear that’s why they have Duty Free straight after: either you can load up on lotions to convince yourself that they’ll change things, or you can drink yourself into oblivion.
      Plus, once airborne, I find I would happily wish death upon everyone around me, although I then realise that would mean literally going down with them. And so, despite always sitting next to/behind/in front of the most annoying person on Earth I end up praying that we all make it to the other end.
      And as for turbulence – WTF?! Proof that if there is a God that’s surely his own practical joke…and He’s really not funny!!!

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