David Gracey

David Gracey

Head of Foreign Exchange and Fixed Income Trading

Not the Currency Comment - The joys of Air Travel

·        I love the idea of flying. It’s probably the reason why every few weeks I pack my model RC planes into the boot of my car and head out to a field somewhere. It’s easy for me to imagine that I am Maverick ruling the skies, whilst impressing Kelly McGillis on the ground. That is until I find myself trying to extricate one of my machines from the top of a tree that I “landed” in. Kelly is not that impressed with such a maneuver.

·        But oh my soul, I detest flying commercial. If you are not turning left at the top of the ramp, everything about commercial flying is an absolute nightmare.

·        From the time one arrives at the airport it’s a never ending litany of frustration, anger and stress.

·        The check-in counter is where it all begins, and I use the term “check-in” loosely. They really should rename it. “Nightmare Alley” seems far more appropriate.

·         I always seem to find myself directly behind a family of 22 people, of who, at least 7 of them are not yet finished packing, 3 of them have misplaced their ticket/ID/passport, and 1 has left his baggage at home or back in the uber.

·        By the time one gets to the front of the line you generally have to deal with a check-in assistant who is so tired and grumpy, that you just know that they are probably going to check your bags on a separate flight to some godforsaken destination. And even if they do check it onto the correct flight, your bags will probably arrive at your destination completely empty, because some baggage handler fancied your T-shirt collection, Havianas, and your baggy costume.

·        Having made it through nightmare alley you are then faced with the indignity of the security checkpoint. To be fair, our domestic security points are a breeze compared to traveling in the U.S or Europe. Over there they will strip you naked, search you, and even extract your metal fillings because the machines are so sensitive that basically the iron in your blood will make them bleep.

·        Having retrieved your clothes, shoes, belt and teeth you are then allowed to roam the giant shopping mall that has been set up to fleece you of any remaining cash that hasn’t fallen out of your wallet during the strip search. Of course, you can choose to relax in an “exclusive” lounge, but most often that queue is longer than the one you just came out of in the security area.

·        Having made it through all of this alive, you can rest assured that it won’t be long before you hear the announcement that your flight has been delayed for a few hours, especially if you have been foolish enough to book a flight on a certain green and purple airline. I’m convinced that the retailers and the airlines work together and share the profits. Because let’s be honest, what else can you do but go shopping during the delay. Unless of course you choose to have a little snooze. In which case you will awake to find that your hand luggage has also been pilfered, and all your recent shopping has been redistributed.

·        At some point, the airline will allow you to board. Normally this takes place at the exact time you should have been arriving at your destination.

·        Once again I find myself behind the 22 souls from the check-in counter, and once again a few of them can’t find their tickets or ID’s. This means that the flight will actually take off at the exact time you should be arriving home from your trip. No matter, because everything up until this point has been a walk in the park compared to what awaits you.

·        Having found your seat, and stowed what remains of your meagre belongings overhead, you have to wait to actually sit down, because there is ALWAYS that one person whose overhead bag is about 3 inches bigger than the capacity of the overhead bin. These people belong to the “if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again” brigade. And don’t for a moment think that rational debate is the answer here. You can’t convince such a person that size does indeed matter. They will argue vehemently that all that is needed is a bit of brute force and ignorance. So you stand and wait while they wrestle with the bag that they refused to check in. Of course they did this knowing that at least they will arrive at their destination with a full bag , even if they have to inconvenience the other 150 passengers.

·        Once the steward has convinced them of their folly, you will be allowed to argue with the person who is sitting in your seat because they don’t understand the basic alphabet or numbering system.

·        Finally you will be allowed to sit down and…..wait because someone has forgotten to board the flight that they booked.

·        At this point, I normally take the opportunity to read a few chapters of the book that I purchased whilst the entire airport goes on standstill looking for the remaining passenger that got stuck in the airport bar chatting up the waitress, whilst his flight stands on the tarmac polluting the atmosphere with jet fuel exhaust fumes.

·        Finally the lost drunk soul is found and the flight is ready, just in time for the toddler behind me to start screaming because her parents have lost her pacifier on the uber.

·        Then the attendant starts with his safety instructions. I’m sorry but anyone who does not know how to fasten their seatbelts should not be allowed to fly.

·        Don’t be fooled into thinking that you can get a few minutes of a power nap in either. Without fail, I’m normally seated in the same row as the person that has the bladder control of an excited puppy.

·        Also, does the captain really have to remind us that we are on a flight to the destination we have chosen and that we are flying at a speed that defies logic and that we are currently flying over some point that I don’t really care about….every 22 minutes. I think they do this just to remind us that they are the real hero’s, and that they are Captains sitting up front.

·        I don’t need to know that we have reached our cruising altitude, or that we have begun our descent. All I want to do is close my eyes for a few uninterrupted minutes.

·        And don’t think that the nightmare is over once you have landed, because that’s another sequence of frustration and stress.

·        The only thing worse is knowing that you have to do it all again on the return journey.

·        Commercial flying sucks.

·        This is your Captain speaking -  normal “currency comment” will resume next week.

·        Enjoy the weekend, 'll pray for you if you have chosen to fly somewhere.