x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Flying is no way to travel

Endurance, not pleasure, has become the common element of all commercial flights. Bring a long a good book

Unsurprisingly, many expatriates are experts when it comes to air travel. One Dubai resident I know says he is so familiar with the timetable of flights to the UK that when he arrives at the airport, he knows precisely which model of plane he will be flying in just by looking at the departure time. I mentioned to him that on my last trip home, I had flown with the lesser-known Royal Brunei Airlines. "Oh, how was that?" he asked.

I was baffled by the question. How was it? Well, it was just like every other flight I've ever been on. I'm not afraid of flying, mind you - I just cannot imagine anyone taking pleasure in it. It's a testament to the millions spent on advertising by the airlines that anyone might ask "how" a flight was, as you might if someone had just had a massage or a cheese sandwich. It beggars belief that anyone would think that flights are things to be enjoyed, rather than simply endured.

You might think these are the ravings of someone who has only ever known the drudgery of a cattle-class flight. Not so. I have flown business class and will happily admit to its superiority. Make no mistake, business class is definitely less boring, less uncomfortable and less noisy than economy. In fact, it's preferable in every way imaginable, but only to the extent that being run over by a BMW is preferable to ending up under the wheels of a Ford Escort. Hurrah for business class!

I've never enquired about an upgrade at the check-in desk, although everyone I'm stuck behind always seems to. What's the point? It's like a convict pleading with a prison guard to move him into a slightly less dingy cell with shinier bars, or perhaps a south-facing window. The only thing that determines whether my flight is any better or worse than average is whether the book I read is any good. OK, safety is also a consideration if you plan on using one of the more esoteric carriers. But only when someone I know steps off a Mozambique Airlines flight, seconds before I'm about to board it, will you hear me utter the words; "Oh, how was that?"

Three things alone should come into play when booking a flight: price, departure time and destination. The cabin crew could all be dressed as Vikings for all I care, just leave me to read my book and bring me some peanuts when I ask for them.