Turbulence at the airport, and that’s even before you take off

We haven't travelled in a while, but the rules and regulations are still the same when going through airports, so says a frustrated Trevor Laffan
Turbulence at the airport, and that’s even before you take off

Crowds at Dublin Airport last week. Many are looking forward to flying again after Covid, but a few will cause unnecessary delays

IF you’ve ever seen the TV show, Dad’s Army, you will know that Captain Mainwaring regularly referred to Private Pike as “You stupid boy!”

He had good reason as well, because while poor Pike was the youngest member of the Home Guard, he certainly wasn’t the brightest. His ideas and suggestions usually fell short of the mark.

‘Stupid’ is not a term I often use to describe people. I usually try to give them the benefit of the doubt when they do something silly. Maybe they had a sudden loss of concentration, or a seniors’ moment, but there are times though when that description is entirely appropriate.

I’m thinking specifically of the airline passengers who can’t get their act together when going through security, or who aren’t properly prepared when presenting themselves at the boarding gate.

It’s even more important now to be organised, with airports warning of delays due to a shortage of security staff - but some people just can’t manage it.

I travelled from London Gatwick to Larnaca in Cyprus last month. It wasn’t the height of the tourist season, but Gatwick was still busy. 

People are probably just chomping at the bit to get away after the last two years of Covid, but in any event, there was a lot of activity.

Dealing with large numbers of passengers like that, requires organisation. Planes have take-off slots and if they miss them, they fall back in the queue for the next available time and that creates inconvenience for all involved. Which is exactly what happened to me.

As soon as the last passengers were seated on my flight, the captain announced over the intercom that due to the delay in boarding, we were going to have a little wait.

It was an hour later when we got clearance for take-off, but by then, whatever arrangements passengers had made for being met in Larnaca were scuppered.

That’s frustrating, and it adds additional stress to a journey that many airline passengers find difficult to deal with at the best of times.

What makes it worse is that in some cases, delays like this could be avoided if the flying ‘Private Pikes’ of this world could learn to follow some simple instructions.

I know it’s been a while since many have flown anywhere, but the rules are pretty much the same as they were before the pandemic.

With the exception of having to wear a face mask in the airport and on the plane, nothing much has changed. You still need to present your boarding pass and your passport at the gate.

You will hear this regularly in announcements. It will be repeated as you approach the gate, and sometimes a member of the ground crew will even walk up and down the queue, reminding passengers to have their boarding passes ready and their passports open at the page showing their photograph.

If they gave me a yellow vest, I could do it for them myself by now without any training.

At Gatwick, several people still approached the departure gate without a face mask and seemed surprised when they were asked to wear one, which then required a dash to the shop to buy one.

Others were asked for their passports and had to go digging in pockets and bags to retrieve them.

It was the same thing with boarding passes. People were scrolling through their phones trying to locate them, instead of having them ready like they were asked to do.

One lady waited until she got to the gate, put her handbag on the counter, and then went rooting for her documents, and it’s because of her, and the others like her, that I had an extended rest on the runway.

It isn’t even peak season yet, so I pity the airline workers and travellers this summer when the ‘Private Pikes’ come out in force.

The security staff have it tough. They tell us to take out our laptops and Kindles and place them in separate trays, remove any liquids from the hand luggage and put them in a clear plastic bag. There are signs everywhere to remind us.

Sometimes, there are videos to go with the signs, telling us what we need to do, and as we get closer to the actual security staff, we will hear lots of officials shouting the same instructions over and over, but some travellers still don’t get it.

In Gatwick, two girls had a wheelie case up on the rollers of the conveyer system and they were taking out various bits and pieces and placing them in the plastic bags. They were in no rush, but they had the whole line blocked up while they faffed around.

They weren’t alone either. Lots of other people were pulled aside for not removing their laptops and other electronic gadgets.

Last year, I sat in the departure lounge waiting to board a flight and the ground crew were walking among the passengers checking that everyone had a Cyprus Flight Pass. It’s much the same as a passenger locator form.

You apply online 72 hours prior to departure, and you receive the Pass in an email.

The guy sitting behind me was asked if he had his, but he didn’t even know what she was talking about.

These people are a liability. If they can’t manage a simple task like presenting a boarding card and opening a passport, how are they ever going to manage to put a life preserver on in an emergency.

And don’t tell me they will leave their personal belongings behind them on the plane as it bobbles about on the water, because they won’t. They’ll drag their little wheelies onto the inflatable slide and puncture the damn thing on the way down, dumping us all in the sea.

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