A 6am start. A 7am collection of Chris in Oldham. The 8am meet at Mark’s for his generous park and ride service deferred half an hour by the evil of M60 traffic queues.

Flybe utilise self service bag drop. I watched carefully as Chris managed this for me, remembering the hash I’d made of things in Reykjavik! Maybe I’ll be ok next time. At least there were none of the feared issues around nil, 20kg and 23kg!

A relatively swift security check and off to a quiet Escape Lounge to order a bacon sandwich and drink copious amounts of coffee. Chris cracks open a can of John Smiths. I’ll never manage a 9am beer even if flying is involved!

Eventually the flight board shows a delay to our flight. More coffee. Choc au pain. I encourage Chris to smuggle a cider into his bag for later! He chooses not to.

I’ve flown a few times with Flybe, most recently to Belfast in May. Most commonly with work to Belfast. My perception of timeliness and reliability has them bottom of the list, even if most of that dates back a decade. This delay annoys me more because I’m tired and grumpy rather than any rational reason. It’s not as if we’re in a hurry.

Eventually a gate number is called and we reach our departure area to find no available seats. Numerous other passengers have spread themselves out to sleep across three seats each. Maybe they did this when several seats remained, but my back told me they were selfish bastards. My brain pondered waking one of them verbally. As I pondered a more interesting “run my bag into one of the offenders’ heads” approach two other seats opened up so nothing was said and we sat. And waited.

Around an hour later we were ready for the runway and take off. The stewardess spotted the bloke behind us using his mobile phone. She’d only read out three mobile device messages in the previous fifteen minutes. Again, the selfishness and thoughtlessness of others never ceases to amaze me. There was little doubt that she’d have stopped the plane taking off if he’d continued his conversation.

Finally in the air. The now well known discomforts of sitting in an economy airline seat quickly set in with lower central back pain. That’s different to the buttock problem and most likely related to my destroyed L5 vertebra.

My mood remains subdued. But I record an impressive 2-1 Breaking Bad Top Trumps win over Chris as the south coast of England appears beneath us.

Chile is getting nearer!

When the Airline Improves Things and Irritates You