by Veronica Rademeyer
Having a favourite airline is akin to having a favourite dentist - well, for us unfortunate souls flying in cattle class that is. Let's face it, flying is a means to an end, and however the airlines market and package it, it still is a pain.
After extensive queuing you arrive at the check in counter. You have been praying since you entered the building that your bags will not be too heavy. You sigh a deep sigh of relief as the digits appear to be within in the range of acceptable bulk, "but then you hear that you are not allowed to book in two pieces of luggage even if their combined weight is acceptable. No no, as from recently some suit dreamed up this new rule that you are only allowed ONE piece of luggage. When I asked why they could not tell me, but did know that the extra piece will cost me R300. Note to self: big cumbersome suitcase hence forth, no two small manageable items. No si'ree! Of course you are already slightly annoyed but you really can't swim to Europe so you have to abide by whichever decision is decreed. Another note to self: you should really start reading terms and conditions!
Well finally you are in possession of your boarding pass and you wave your luggage farewell hoping they will not be lost, travel to Timbuktu or be ransacked, but luckily you have your hair straightener, clean undies and your favourite perfume in your backpack so you should survive. Next queue - security check. If you are like me, this is the point where you start second guessing yourself. Where did I put my tweezers? Why does my back hurt? Did someone plant a metal plate in there while I slept? Did I really watch my laptop bag like a hawk the whole time or did someone sneak in a kilo of coke? Finally you make it to the front of the line and step through the metal detector. BEEP BEEP BEEP. Ah man. Luckily it is the metal detector next to you and no security lady will investigate your cavities. PHEW. Onwards and upwards then! You determine the location of the gate you will have to run to in a few hours and head towards the number one travel remedy - a bar!! Here you bide your time whilst quaffing exorbitantly expensive beverages and checking in on Facebook. No trip is official unless documented you know!
Boarding! The final queue forms and finally you take your seat (which you have to vacate at least twice to accommodate the other passengers trying to get to theirs).
If you fly economy, no matter which airline you fly with, the seats are small, the leg space ridiculous and 13 hours are 13 hours. Having said that, Emirates do a few things right, which makes them my favourite mode of torturous travel. Firstly, the in-flight crew is well trained, poised, polished and very good at making you feel like even though you are squeezed into the middle seat in row 87, you should have been in first class, business at the very least. Secondly the food is very much edible. Thirdly, they do not skimp on the wine. Fourthly, and most importantly... they do not skimp on the wine. (It warrants two spots on the list).
In essence, travel is a bugger, but like painful dentistry, jogging, and forcing down peas, worth it. Emirates is my favourite airline for their excellent service and affordable rates, but I will fly with Turkish Airlines if the price is right. Ultimately, to quote Former South African Minister of Transport Mr Hendrik Schoeman when attacked about the poor food on airplanes: "Wil julle vreet? Of vlieg?" (Do you want to eat? Or fly?). Me, I want to get to weird and wonderful destinations. So it is not really that important how well they preserve a poached egg for 17 hours or if the chocolate muffin is rich and moist or charred brick. Just don't' skimp on the wine!
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