No Frills Flying Offers No Comfort For Families

Now there’s a nip in the air and the flip-flops have been wistfully put away, perhaps you’ve forgotten the irritants of low cost air travel, especially if you’re travelling en famille. I wrote the piece below a few years back when my boys were still small and if they wanted to see their grandparents I had to use Ryanair in order to get to southern France. Train or car are not really options if you’re the sole adult and the journey will take a day or more. Now my boys are bigger, travel is much less stressful. They can be left with the bags while I go to the loo. They generally stand still and don’t make a dash for the exit when you’ve been stuck in line for an eternity. Complaints are now more of the muttered whinge rather than the full-on tantrum variety. Whenever I see a harassed mother at an airport my heart goes out to her. She’s not having a holiday, poor love, her stress levels are through the roof.

Maybe Ryanair have now dropped some of their less palatable ‘hidden’ charges. I believe the boarding process is more civilised now (it certainly is with Easyjet) but I like this piece, so here you are.

Let’s start with the booking, when your heart is aquiver with excitement at what lies ahead. Looking online, those flights really do seem good value. Ah yes, but you haven’t factored in the fact that you need a bag, probably two at least, if you’re a family of four. Bang goes a hundred quid.

Speedy boarding?! Why would you want to pay extra just for getting on the plane? Surely we’re all getting on the plane, unless that’s some new sinister twist, where those that haven’t paid extra are meant to charge down the runway and hurl themselves through a window at the last minute. What added delights are provided for those that are first – a little bag of nuts and a snifter of G&T? I think not.

Purchasing the tickets entails another thirty pounds in undisclosed booking charges. Why? Buying the ticket is not an either/or option. So there’s your tickets, at double the price they were when you first looked. Don’t forget to check-in online and print out your boarding pass with each person’s ticket on a separate piece of paper, will you? Because it’ll be another FORTY POUNDS EACH if you have the temerity to turn up at the airport without having done so. Here’s the thing – if I have already checked in, why am I still standing in an incredibly long line at the airport to reach a luminous top lady wearing too much make-up? Ah yes, it’s a check-in.

Next we get to the mysterious strictures surrounding the weight of baggage. It is acceptable to have two bags of 15kg but not one of 10kg and one of 20kg. Are we worried about the baggage handlers’ ickle wickle arms being pulled out of joint by uneven distribution? The terminal is awash with people frantically repacking, displaying their smalls to all and sundry as they desperately try to cram half the contents of one bag into another. Well, that’s really ‘speeded’ things up now. Happy days.

Finally, the bags have gone – to be hurled about out of sight and we can proceed to ‘security’. I can understand why knives, scissors etc are not allowed in hand luggage. If someone were to be tipped over the edge due to the indignities of the travelling process, these might be employed in an inappropriate fashion. A small plastic bottle of water and a tub of moisturiser bigger than the allotted 100ml. Phew! Hold your horses! All these people desperately glugging down their drinks and then hopping about in agony because they need the loo while they’re still queuing are not planning anything sinister. It’s a ploy on the airport’s part to make you spend more cash in buying replacement drinks.

After the five mile hike to the gate, it’s time to board. The contradiction in terms known as the ‘Speedy Boarding’ call results in 98% of the departure lounge bundling towards one small door in a heaving mass then breaking into an undignified trot to the plane to ensure they’re not parted from their companion for as much as 90 minutes.

On board the crew spend twice as long rearranging the plane once it’s realised some children have no seat anywhere near their parent. Once, when returning from Bergerac with my two under-fives, I was marooned in the aisle not able to see any free seats, let alone together. Eventually, a crew member announced, ‘Would any passengers mind moving, so the “lady” and her children could sit together…?’

Everybody stuck their noses into their free bag of nuts and G&T thinking, ‘I’ve paid my £5 Speedy Boarding fee, I’m buggered if I’m moving.’

The crew member then added: ‘If we don’t get underway in five minutes, we’ll miss our slot and be here for four hours.’ The entire plane rose as one body and we were seated in the twinkling of an eye.

Want to advertise your business for free?

Grab your pack of free advertising perks by registering.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit