I am always amazed that any flight manages to get off the ground at all let alone on time when you look at the antics of many of the passengers. It is incredible how the simple act of traversing an airport and boarding an aircraft is turned into an epic to rival Lord of the Rings by some people for whom life is just a major complication.
The problems usually start in the terminal with those who feel the need to shop. Once engrossed in the delights of the airport shops they seem to lose all notion of time and are still examining designer watches and Harrods’ teddies when announcements calling them to the gate are becoming ever more desperate. I have found myself a victim of the mysterious disappearing passenger on several occasions watching mournfully as their luggage is unloaded from the hold thereby delaying the flight.
It is unfortunate that airports see fit to include bars in their terminals. Flight dispatchers urgently searching for missing souls often find them holed up in the bar too inebriated to know what day it is let alone the time of their flight which has now passed. Having been tracked down they then board their flight only for their alcoholic fugue to be enhanced by the pressurised cabin leading to episodes of bizarre behaviour at best and abuse at worst. I cannot begin to imagine how incandescent with rage I would be if my flight had to be diverted to disgorge an unruly passenger.
Once people have managed to haul themselves away from the shops and bars they then have to find the gate from which their flight is departing. How so many people manage to screw this up I will never know but it is not uncommon to find eager tourists heading for Barcelona mistakenly trying to board a flight for Rome or some other destination completely unrelated to the one they heading for. Naturally by the time their error is discovered they are faced with a mad dash to wherever they are supposed to be and inevitably delay that departure.
The airline staff always make a valiant effort to board the planes with some level of efficiency but their efforts are generally undone by hopelessly inept travellers who are oblivious to all announcements and common sense. Generally passengers with small children or disabilities (which amount to the same thing on a plane) are invited to board first. As families wrestle with toddlers and changing carriers there is always a stampede to the gate made up of the terminally stupid and hopelessly deaf who try to board when it is not their turn. Calls for certain row numbers to board are also generally ignored and what should be a civilised procession onto the aircraft turns into a scrum.
Once on the plane people then proceed to take an age to get into their seats whilst fiddling with the overhead lockers and searching for various items in their hand luggage. The aisles are blocked for an eternity whilst some idiot tries to locate his book and other passengers are left stranded down the plane, cut off from their seats by those who should have already sat down.
Finally just when you think you might actually be able to depart the attendants discover that a passenger is missing. If they are not in the bar or shopping in the terminal they are invariably to be found in the toilet on the aircraft, probably as a result of the trip to the bar, and everyone has to wait yet again whilst they find their way back to their row. Then a miracle may occur and the plane can finally back off the stand. The dispatchers must have a party every time they actually manage to get a flight off!
Article by Sally Stacey