I have often said that Monarch is the only airline for me. I have often joked about Ryanair, and even gleefully published on this blog bad news reports about the cheaper airlines.
However, Monarch doesn’t fly to Glasgow. From Spain, Easyjet flies to Glasgow. From Alicante. So, I was stuck between taking the direct flight, or flying into London and then taking the overnight train.
Now, both have advantadges.
The only time I have slept on a train was crossing China, and I imagine that the tattered reminants of British Rail can probably still put on a good show against SinaRail, or whatever it’s called.
But that involves flying into London, taking the train to the centre, waiting around for the flyer, paying a lot of money, and wasting a day. So I decided to fly.
But, it turns out that to fly from Spain (Alicante) to Barra (Outer Hebrides) costs under 100E. Notwithstanding that it’s over 2,500km and via two airlines.
Now, to fly to Seville, our local political capital, costs quite a bit more than that from Almeria. Which is something to ponder. How can it be cheaper to fly to the most remote part of the UK (from Spain) than to our regional capital?
Of course, we did have Air Andalus, which offered Andalucian flights for not very much, but sadly it turned out to be bad business venture (someone, I imagine it was the Andalucian taxpayer, got raped) and the airline has closed most of its routes, and as I write is on the verge of closing the last few routes.
So I drove to Alicante.
You will remember, that in it’s infinite wisdom, the COuncil of Ministers of Spain decided that, as a fuel saving measure, everyone has to drive around at 110 kph. So it’s no longer just under 2 hours to Alicante Airport. Before, I put on the cruise control at 135kph and floated up. This time, I pottered up at 112 kph. Quite a difference.
I tried to do it, having some extra time, at exactly the speed limit. When it said 100, I did 100: when it said 80, I slowed down and was beeped at. It took me upwards of three hours to get to Alicante.
Alicante has recently undergone a major revamp. I do not like this. It is a huge difference, and you spend a lot of time driving around trying to find where you are going to go. The airport is now designed around tour packages: you arrive, you get in your bus, you go to your hotel, you come back, are dropped off in front of departures. We poor mortals who actually live here are forgotten.
There are, I note, several large differences between Spanish and British airports.
The UK builds airports for the serious passenger. They are efficient sorting machines, based on abattoirs, designed to sort the human traffic into different gates as quickly as possible, with inhuman police at the gates to weed out the terrorists. Speed, efficiency and economy are the names of the game.
The Spanish have huge marble based luxury complexes, in which the tourist is welcomed to Spain, and invited to have some amazingly expensive refreshments. Cunning routes send you through duty free and bars. Toilets are large and clean. Police are friendly (about the only bloody time they are). Large signs are in many languages, light is ample and happy people will wheelchair you around.
The difference is in the basic underpinnings of each. And I find UK airports to be faster and more efficient. A lot more inhuman, but speedier and designed to deal with the masses.
WHilst Spanish airports are designed for the holidaymaker arriving and relaxing. Don’t worry, whispers the Spanish airport baggage carousel. Yours will come. Whereas the Brits just spit your luggage out, and than shouts to get a move on.
Although I do like the notice at most UK airports warning us that “Due to increased security measures, it may take you a little longer to enter the UK”.
Last time I arrived at Murcia, the policemen on passport duty weren’t bothering to check anyones documents, they just waved us all through whilst chatting to some attractive ladies.
This time on Easyjet, I did find that the staff were somewhat absent from their duties. It stuck me that the two on duty my end (chap and chapette) must have had some sort of lovers tiff. Every single comment between them (do you have change? any Pepsi’s left?) resulted in a snappy comeback (why don’t you double check? have you looked in the store?). It took them 25 minutes to reach my aisle (number 7). The tension between them was amazing. It left us poor passengers too afraid to comment.
“Yes?” snapped Neil to me.
“what where the sandwich options?” I muttered shlyly to him.
“What?” he barked in his strong scottish accent.
His companion lent over the trolley, gave him what I can only describe as a nasty smile, and said to me in a loud voice “cheese and salad. I’m sorry, he probably had too much fun last night to bother remembering the menu”.
Neil scowled back.
“Do ye want it” he barked at me.
“Yes please” I squealed, although it was as horrible as I imagined it would be.
It takes three hours to fly to Glasgow from Alicante. This is a long time. Half way through I, whilst listening to “I’m sorry I haven’t a clue (1982)” (thank you Internet!) I spotted asmall child making faces at me.
Well, as a gurning champ, I wasn’t going to stand for that. I stuck my tongue back out at her.
She was at first horrified, hiding herself away, but them popped up again giving me a good one. Not as good as the one I gave her back, tho’.
This went on for several minutes, until I looked around and spotted all the passengers in the nearby rows staring at me.
“Look here” I said, elbowing the gf in the ribs whilst pointing at the magazine.
The chap sitting next to me looked annoyed. “Look at what?” he asked, irritable.
I’d forgotted the gf hadn’t come with me.