Jazzy Jeff: Ryanair Woes

This week, I’ve undertaken the role of foreign correspondent for The Stand. I’m visiting my girlfriend in Aix en Provence (after all even the unemployed need a holiday). However, much […]

This week, I’ve undertaken the role of foreign correspondent for The Stand. I’m visiting my girlfriend in Aix en Provence (after all even the unemployed need a holiday). However, much like Moses’ quest to find the Promised Land, you first have to suffer on a biblical scale in order to arrive at any destination worth getting to. My personal exodus makes Dante’s Inner Circle look like a stroll on West Sands. I’m not one who’s prone to exaggeration.   

My travails begin with a 3:30am taxi ride to the airport. Groggily clambering into the taxi, I’m immediately faced with that most decrepit of clichés: the racist taxi driver. Apparently prejudice never sleeps – 3:30am being as good a time as any to detail the many failings of foreigners. I arrive at Edinburgh Airport having been exposed to a litany of bigotry to make The Daily Mail blush. On reflection, it seems odd that he would choose to do the airport run, perhaps the one place in the overwhelmingly mono-cultural Edinburgh where exposure to people from abroad is basically guaranteed.

A couple of hours later, I board my connecting flight to London. I realise that I’m on what businesspeople call the ‘red eye’ flight – presumably termed as such because the passengers are all possessed by corporate demons that have sucked all signs of life out of them. I imagine them brazenly ignoring the no phones rule as they keep in constant BBM contact with a suspiciously Donald Trump-looking Satan. Ryanair’s chirpy yellow and blue decor incongruously mingles with the listless greyness of my fellow passengers. Grey suits, grey hair, grey faces, grey lives.  

By 9am I’ve arrived at Stansted Airport – a place that has the temerity to describe itself as being in London. Having skipped breakfast, I’m utterly ravenous by this point. Under normal circumstances, I’m a fairly decisive type when it comes to feeding myself. See food. Eat food. Nice and simple. But not in Stansted Airport – a place that revels in what I have come to realise is the greatest of capitalism’s many evils: choice. There are literally hundreds of fast food outlets, each as overpriced and unappealing as the next. Thus, deciding where to eat is not a simple choice to make. This form of choice is akin to one of those psychological experiments where you’re forced to choose whether a kitten or a puppy gets executed or else the psycho doctor does them both in. It poses an impossible moral quandary. At least in that scenario there’s very little chance that the dog will end up constituting 26% of my meal. Given recent news, Burger Hut can’t even offer that reassurance.

I spend six utterly fruitless hours in Stansted, too tired to even play Angry Birds, too angry to have a nap. I won’t even go into the multiple toilet failures that Stansted boasts. Just before I board my second budget airline flight of the day, I go to one of the many WHSmith outlets to buy a copy of the Guardian. As though Stansted was determined to lay the boot one last time into an already defeated man, the self service checkout machine gives me £1.20 worth of change in nothing but coppers. And not even 2p pieces. Mainly 1ps. My trousers weighed down well below my arse, I jingle my way to the boarding gate like a budget King Midas.

I’m at the final hurdle, my flight to Marseilles. I consciously decide not to let anything else about the trip get up my nose – not even the man who says “Don’t sit next to me” when I sit down next to him. Do I look that bad? Smell that bad? Regardless, I order a G&T, pointedly ignoring the man’s judgemental glances (maybe he wouldn’t be so crotchety if he had a G&T) and kick back for the rest of the flight. Arriving in Marseilles, I’m faced with the final indignity. I shit you not – Marseilles airport has segregated terminals – one for the proper airlines, and one for the poor scum who are flying on Ryanair. It doesn’t so much resemble an airport terminal as a massive corrugated iron abattoir where instead of killing you outright, they make you wait in security queues until you die from old age. I swear, employment or not, from this day on I’m flying direct with BA.