Travelling - tentatively related to Saint Alexis (Patron Saint of Travellers)


I first flew when I was almost 18, on a holiday to Corfu, I really did not enjoy the flight and could almost count on two hands if not one, how many flights I took after that.  I did take a flight in 2006 to Monza to see the Grand Prix (where Michael Schumacker originally retired). 

Anyway, we got on the plane at Bristol to Milan but there was a problem with the door, we eventually got taken back off the plane, which they fixed somehow and put back on about 60 minutes later.  I was convinced that the door was going to fly off, during the whole of the journey, and really it spoilt my holiday as I knew I would have to fly home.  I swore at that point that it would be the last flight I ever took.

However, God has a sense of humour, I am sure.  The following year I started working in the oil and gas industry in Business Development and very soon, I was clocking up over 100 flights a year.  Many of the air stewardesses with KLM and I were on first name terms, and it turned out I was flying more than some of them!

Most of the flights have been on large aircraft … I have flown in the double deckers, with several engines as well as many noisy twin props.  I have also flown in much smaller planes around the Ecuadorian jungle particularly.  The one thing most of them have in common is awful food.  I think my favourite flight for food was flying out of the jungle in Ecuador on a small flight and being handed a bag containing a sandwich, a bag of crisps, a bar of chocolate and a juice box with a straw – it was like a child’s lunch but it was perfect.  The shortest flight I have taken was 15 minutes from Guernsey to Jersey, the longest so far is 16 hours from Perth, Australia to London, although I was booked on the 19 hour flight from London to Sydney, which is postponed until further notice with Coronavirus.

The funniest food story was on a KLM flight to Ecuador.  KLM have some funny choices of food on planes at the best of times but on this flight, soup was served.  It was at exactly the time, we hit some bad turbulence.  The soup went everywhere, covering passengers, crew, and the plane.  I am guessing that took some time to clean up!

I have had a few scary moments (besides severe turbulence) on planes.  Twice leaving Amsterdam, the plane has had to turn around and land again, the scarier one of the two was with a fuel leak and landing surrounded by fire engines.  I have been on an aborted landing coming into Bristol in fog.  The pilot did well to land it on the second attempt.  We landed sidewards in severe wind at Leeds Bradford once – so severe that one of the air stewardesses burst into tears.  Its always that windy landing in Newfoundland!  Once, leaving Rio De Janiero, the pilot forgot to tell the air stewardesses that we were taking off and they had to sit on the floor and hold on.

There have been a number of very heavy landings, probably the worst one was landing back in Quito from the jungle, and one very strange one landing in Bristol from Paris when it appeared the Captain had enough and left the plane almost abandoned in the parking area. Considering the number of flights, I have taken, I think my bags have only not landed with me 6 times (twice on the way back from Paris).  I have received them eventually though.

I still don’t particularly like flying but it really does not bother me like it used to – which is probably just as well, although once COVID-19 crisis is over, it remains to be seen how much travel can actually happen, and whether we will have the same appetite for travel.