Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Travelling
Look out world—I’ve had it! Here I am saving the planet and for what? You’re wrecking absolutely everything and what you’ve done to travel is nothing short of criminal. Nothing has degraded more spectacularly from what it once was, to what it is today.
Let’s start with check-in. Long gone is Heathrow’s welcoming British Airways First Class (or Concorde) building, and even in the states… no outdoor checking of bags. Why? Because Covid. Did they really think we were safer from airborne germs inside than out? Of course they didn’t, but like all the lies that followed… we swallowed the lie and grumbled it’s just two weeks. In addition, they kept saying things like ‘We’re all in this together’ when we most certainly are not.
What is actually happening, is I am paying for the people who used to check bags to sit home. And I am now taking my own bag from my driver and dragging it to the first-class counter that isn’t even first anymore. And in places where outside (open-air) bag-check exists—it’s now a new crop of untrained employees that charge a fee as they stare at their screens for an eternity. It’s unbearable. Faster now to take myself inside, and wait in the ever-growing line. Long, long gone are the days Daddy could place twenty quid in the hand of the porter who would whisk all of our bags to the mouth of the plane. I find myself echoing his sentiment—please just take my money and get on with it!
Forget the security lines… that is just pure insanity where I must take clean items and place them on filthy, germ-laden trays as the agents paw everything else with their filthy gloves. It’s always a calculated risk to ask them to change their gloves but when they unnecessarily breach something that is now contaminated, I say just throw it out.
Today however, I had a ‘salad’ problem. Salad refers to cords of any kind. I think we got this from the Germans who started calling it a ‘cord salad’ and then it became simply ‘salad’. But I didn’t have a tangle of cords, I just had the one that I’d popped in at the last minute—the extension for my MacBook. SERIOUSLY? I hear myself scream as my bag makes the little jog to the right of the conveyor belt for an additional filthy-gloved inspection. With pure evil in her eyes, the security matron claims victory holding up my cord as though she’s caught me with a brick of cocaine.
'I’m supposed to take out cords??’ I ask. More than a little annoyed.
‘Well yes, when you hide them behind chocolate.’
I say nothing. If she can clearly see it’s a cord and see it’s a bar of chocolate (which by the way is not a rule!) what are we really talking about? She’s a cow and she’s loving it. Just prior to that I had the ever-fun waistband swipe. Boys don’t know this but if you wear tights, for some reason this elastic waistband baffles every security person in the land. What could it possibly be? they must gasp.
Is it so very different than the elastic-waisted pyjamas that have become such popular travel wear? Somehow this very sheer elastic is more scary than the elastic on men’s briefs and scarier still than the thick cotton waistband of those people in their cargo pants with millions of metal snaps and flapping pockets and likely clumps of disgusting laundry lint.
And for this invasion, I really MUST insist that they change their gloves. You are not thrusting that filthy and disgusting glove both into my clothes and onto my abdomen. EVEN IF you claim you just changed your gloves — which anyone can see is a lie. I don’t know why they try to get away with it. We see them standing there, complaining, patting previous people down, complaining more, touching their face and hair and belt buckles and trays and then they just look you straight in the face and lie saying—‘I just changed them!’ Except you didn’t. And for asking them to change their gloves…oh, they will make you suffer. But one is discriminated against for wearing a dress, trust me. It’s nearly every time.
Glamorous enough for you yet? Of course, my client doesn’t see this when I arrive, he just sees unflappable me, flying commercial to decrease my carbon footprint while he… well never mind what he does.
But there’s another indignity. I must now purchase both a newspaper and a bottle of water, because these items are likewise gone from the planes. Remember all of those people who died from newspaper Covid? Well neither do I but apparently newspapers on the plane cause Covid. But newspapers for purchase—no Covid. So they got rid of newspapers and the PDB (pre-departure beverage) while we were all doing our part and littering the planet with empty vials of hand sanitiser and disposable gloves and masks and wipes.
I stroll past the shops… Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Burberry, Bulgari… all closed. Even the porridge bar. Only Boots and Duty-Free are safe from the dreaded Covid. The line at Boots is madness as I grab my paper and 99p water and head to the BA Lounge… one of the few that is open according to my app. But when I arrive—it too is shuttered. I scroll through my various lounge apps which only last night told me that several were open but this too is a lie. I call the Emerald Hotline and they confirm… no lounges—NONE are open. Which explains why the BA horse is lacking his seasonal wreath and the estimated walk to the gate is showing 00.
There will be no pot of tea, no fruit, no curry, no glass of champagne, no Victoria Sponge and certainly no shower for those people transiting from afar. WHY? Because everyone has used Covid as the iron-clad excuse to cut services. I was two inches from every manner of person in the security line, but in an environment where I could relax, wash my hands, and restore my health and sanity, and for which I’ve already paid…. I am blocked. I hate these people.
I look down at the terminal of humanity happily sucking down sugar-laden coffee drinks and pastries and lowering their immune systems with each gulp and I wonder if we are too stupid to live. I pull my mask off and sit down on the floor next to horsey. Even he knows it’s cleaner on this floor where no one has walked in months than in the taped-off seats below.
Downing my morning vitamins I look at my mobile to decide how long I will stay here until I head to my gate. This has nothing to do with health, and here I am, debilitated.