All of a sudden the days are rushing by in a countdown to my visit to the UK in a week’s time. I am on the downward slope to putting my posterior down for a 26 hour stretch. Right now I can see nothing but that being a blissful experience of rest and relaxation.
I plan to load up my phone with audio books and podcasts and my laptop with movies to keep me occupied during the waking hours. I shall also have a wealth of books on my kindle to while away the hours. That will complement the stack of entertainment options Air New Zealand will have lined up for us too. If history is anything to go by I will prepare myself for a fully entertained flight but be so tired that I will spend more time asleep than awake.
I’m listening to Bill Bryson read his book about the summer of 1927 when Charles Lindbergh made the first transatlantic flight. It is humbling to think how primitive flying was in those days compared to the luxurious entertainment filled flying of today. As a fully signed up member of the British Airways Junior Jet Club in the 1970’s I feel a veteran of airline travel. In those days every child leaving a flight would receive a tin full of chocolate and sweets as equally prized as our log book at recorded our flying miles and dutifully signed by the flight’s captain. It was however the milestone certificates that we all hankered for showing how far we flew every year and the special trips up the flight deck mid-flight that really made flying a true thrill.
For all the advances in modern aviation travelling by plane so often feels fraught with stress. Is my bag too heavy, will I reach the airport on time, have I filled in all the bits of paper, have I lost my boarding card, passport etc. Flying in New Zealand is a relatively relaxing experience with the airports so accessible and not so many passengers to make it crowded. The shock comes when you arrive in Los Angeles and London where people seem to pour in from everywhere and the airports so enormous it can take 15-20 minutes to walk from the plane to reach your luggage and hours to wait in immigration queues.
I am counting on London being on its best behaviour as it was when I was last there during the 2012 Olympics. Then it was a delight to be among happy and helpful people everywhere. The true test will come when I stare blankly at the Oyster Travel Card machine not knowing which buttons to press or which slot to put my credit card into. Last time I was almost crushed in the rush of people coming to help me.
As soon as I sit on the plane I know that the stresses of wrapping up work, stocking up the freezer and making arrangements for our menagerie at home will just ebb away. Then the fun and adventure of travel and spending time with family and friends kicks in.