Above the clouds

Updated: Sep 8



I’m 30,000 feet up in the air as I write this on a delayed flight from London to Madrid.

The airport was crowded, the queues were long and we spent 90 minutes waiting on the tarmac for refuelling. Tempers could have become a bit frayed although they didn’t.

The staff on the ground were doing their best. The air stewards were very communicative and passengers seemed far more fixed on the potential upside of their holiday getaway than the very real downside of bad smells, long waiting times, general grot of an overcrowded airport and a chronic shortage of Pret bircher muesli.

Post pandemic, it’s obvious that airports and airlines have been caught short. We’ve been oversold or they’ve understaffed or both. Staff left the industry in the pandemic and no-one really knew when they were going to be needed again. The answer actually is errr…..now, or yesterday or even last month, but we didn’t know that then, nor did ‘they’ and nor did anyone. Or maybe they did and they couldn’t find the staff. Or maybe the staff couldn’t find them. Or it was Brexit, or the great employee resignation, or…. (add your theory here).

The click bait frenzied media is having a good time writing about holiday ‘misery’ and the UK Government has called the airlines to the Headmaster’s office for a talking to.

I guess it will take some time to work out and there’ll be a few more bumps in the sky before we go back to normal, whatever that is.

All of this is to say that life isn’t always perfect, that planning in an uncertain world is tricky and there is always a dimension to life which looks and acts a lot like the infamous ‘slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’.

So if you do decide to take a flight anytime soon here’s my key takeaway bullet point summary advice;

  1. Avoid airports on major public holidays

  2. Arrive early

  3. Pack a sandwich

  4. Stay calm

On reflection and looking at that list I think it could be a solid first draft for a basic life happiness manual.

PD. By the way, the pilot has just told us that we have 15 minutes to landing and was keen to point out that the delay was the airport’s fault not his airline. We can all be phlegmatic friends but we live in a litigious world!