Posts Tagged ‘air travel’


Monday, June 27th, 2016 | Reviews, Travel


We flew to Iceland with Icelandair. How original. It was the most expensive airline we have ever flown with. It was a little over £600 for return tickets for the both of us.

Seat reservations

This was a disaster. We pre-booked our seats so that we could sit together. However, when it came to checking in online, our seats were changed so that we were no longer together. I spoke to both the baggage drop-off people and the people at the gate, but none of them could help. In the end, the woman sat next to me was kind enough to swap with Elina so we could sit together.

However, what is the point of having a seat reservation system that you do not honour. It is actually worse than having no seat reservation system as at least in that case you would know to check in straight away.

Ryanair have a brilliant seat reservation system. It costs you some cash, but we had a whole stewardess whose entire job seemed to be guarding our seats so that nobody else sat there. When Ryanair blow you out of the water for customer service, maybe you should take a look at what you are doing.

We had no problems on the return flight and received the seats we had booked.


On the outgoing flight, we boarded on time. However, we then sat on the tarmac for an additional forty minutes before going anywhere as the luggage was loaded, then unloaded, then loaded into a different part of the plane.

On the way back, our flight time was pushed back by one hour fifty minutes. This worked out well for us, as we were notified beforehand and meant we could sleep in a little bit longer, but the fact that it was changed was still annoying. Even after this, it took off twenty minutes late.

Entertainment system

Every seat comes with a built-in touch-screen entertainment system. This was pretty annoying. Before the flight takes off it shows adverts for the whole time. Elina finds flickering screens irritating but there was no way to turn it off.

Once the flight started it turned off automatically. You then had to turn it back on and watch another two minutes of adverts before it let you do anything. It then had a limited range of media available. There were maybe a dozen TV shows to pick from, including three episodes of Friends and three episodes of Family Guy. There were also films, a flick tracker, some games for the kids and a few other features.

Economy comfort

Our outgoing flight was economy comfort rather than economy as by some bizarre twist, this worked out to be the cheapest option. I think it was a mistake to do this because it was much nicer than flying coach and now that I have experienced it, I do not want to go back.

On Icelandair you get a bigger, nicer seat. It is only two seats each side (coach is three) with a generous armrest in the middle that you can put things on. You also get a blanket, a bottle of water, a pair of headphones and hot food and drink included, including alcohol.


On the way back, we were back in coach. This was fine, the leg room was pretty standard for a plane and having nobody in the seat next to us provided us with a great place to put our coats. You still get the entertainment system and free soft drinks.

Airport security

Saturday, September 1st, 2012 | Religion & Politics, Thoughts

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – airport security should be relaxed.

Flying back from Dublin recently, we arrived at Dublin airport and joined the queue to pass through to the departures lounge – a queue that would take us 40 minutes to get through. That is really long and irritating. But often, these queues can be even longer (though in fairness, often shorter too).

Of course you can come back with “but you can’t put a price on human life”, but this is simply nieve and we all know you really can. For example, a million people a year die on the roads and we could reduce this by setting the speed limit to 20 miles per hour on every road everywhere. But this would be too inconvenient, we would rather let people die is the harsh truth.

So, putting emotional arguments aside, why should we relax airport security?

Well, first off, lets remember why we shouldn’t – if we did, more terrorists would get through with more bombs, and people would die. That is a good reason for airport security!

But there has to be a trade off between the lengths taken and the success. So my question is, have we got the levels quite right. I would argue that perhaps we have not.

Firstly, there is a time cost. 40 minutes for everyone passing through an airport is a long time. Given that the average person has around 3,000,000 (3 million) hours left on this Earth, that means that for every 6 million people that pass through airport security, we’ve essentially wasted a human life.

It isn’t as simple as time vs life as the emotional argument would have you belief – when it comes down to it, length queues in airport security take away small parts of people’s lives – and these quickly add up to entire lives.

London’s airports see 134,000,000 people pass through it each year. Based on our previous maths that is 22 people’s lives per year spent on airport security. That is just one city, albeit the busiest in the world in terms of air passengers – internationally, we’re losing hundreds of lives per year.

So terrorists would have to kill everyone on board a jumbo jet (or several smaller planes) at least once a year to make the time we spend on airport security cost effective.

Secondly, we have to wonder how effective these security checks are. Most terrorist plots are stopped by homeland security forces in the planning stage, airport security stops very few – indeed, security expert Bruce Schneier argues that a lot of the security added in recent years does absolutely nothing, and is merely a “theater” designed to make us feel safer. Is that the kind of system that saves a jumbo jet full of people, every year?

It is also arguable that it simply doesn’t work – even in a post 9/11 world we still have the shoe bomber and the printer cartridge bombs – we’re more paranoid than ever before and people are still getting bombs on our planes.

Finally, it is also worth asking what ideological cost we are paying for these security checks.

We have to remember that the aim of a terrorist isn’t to blow up an aeroplane – that is merely a means to an end, and the end is, as is suggested by their name, causing terror.

Now, I don’t know about you, but when we’re all too scared to let a small child take a bottle of water onto a plane, in my book that suggests that we’re pretty fucking terrified.

Like many of you, I’m sick and tired of hipsters wearing “keep calm and…” t-shirts. But what is worse is that the whole meaning of them has been lost. As you may well know, the original meme comes from British posters that said “keep calm and carry on” to tell the public what to do during the Second World War.

That is what London does best – when the terrorists struck on 7-7 and blow up our trains and our buses, what did Londoners do? They stuck two fingers up at the terrorists, got right back on those buses and showed them that we were not going to be scared of them.

Air transport however, has taken no such approach. As news stories about parents forced to drink baby milk to show it wasn’t actually liquid explosive have shown, there is literally no substance that we cannot be scared of.

Seems a high price to me.

Luckily, of course, you can buy a bottle of water once you have passed through security, for twice the price. But that is a different blog post.

So the situation is this.

In order to stop terrorists we’ve banned every single substance we can think of that could possibly be used as an explosive, even though they’re still getting explosives onto the planes and we’re using up hundreds of people’s lives a year in a line of defense which may or may not be saving any lives.

Maybe it is time that we, at least reviewed, the situation.

Flying Without Fear

Friday, January 20th, 2012 | Life

Earlier this month, I attended a Flying Without Fear course.

It consists of a morning session which looks at both the theory behind flying and why it is safe, and the psychology of anxiety and how to control your mind. After lunch you head over to the airport and actually take a flight.

The theory part was brilliant. Captain Dom explained the basic physics which keep you in the air, the various sections of the flight, what he does on take off, the backup systems they have in place – this was absolutely fascinating. Unfortunately it didn’t calm my nerves as I know a lot of the science behind it and I’ve never been worried about whether the plane is going to fall out of the sky or anything like that.

The psychology section was rather disappointing though, which was rather a let down as I was hoping this section would actually be useful to me. Unfortunately, the course uses Neuro-linguistic programming which has now been almost entirely discredited. Why? Because it’s all nonsense.

That isn’t to say their hearts weren’t in the right place. All of the course leaders (most if not all were volunteers who had given up their time to help out!) were incredibly supportive and that is the real benefit of the course. I’m incredibly grateful for the support I received from Sarah, Jill, my dad and everyone else on the course (if you’re reading this, thank you SO much!). They got me here:

Smiling and everything. Because the irony is that I love the idea of flying. I mean, it’s really awesome right, being so far up in the air, watching everything down below like you’re living all those hours spent on Google Earth. If only I didn’t feel ill every time I got near a plane, it would be a magical experience.

Still, I’m now one step forward in the battle for Los Angeles.