So yesterday, we headed back to Marbella again, flying with Ryanair back to Malaga. First of all, it was interesting to see how the airport has opened up a bit more (although it’s still not quite normal) – we left through Terminal 2 (Schengen) but unusually had to show passports (impressive how they have re-jigged that whole area so quickly), and security was empty (but slower than usual – I was surprised to set off the bleep as I had put everything in the tray, including my gold trainers, and said as much to the customs officer, explaining that I am a very regular flyer and it’s usually my shoes that set off the bleep, to which he responded that it was actually my bra. And since my bra wasn’t particularly metal-laden, I retorted that I do usually wear one when I am flying, so I was still surprised, at which point he was so embarrassed he hurried me through quickly).
Despite people thinking that flying is more or less back to normal, it really isn’t. Between our arrival at the airport and the time until our flight, there were only three departures, which meant that there were very few people around, and only a couple of cafes and about 50 per cent of shops, including Duty Free, open. Then our flight, which showed on the tracker as being delayed on its inbound flight by half an hour, actually landed early, so we were called quickly to board, and that was a very straightforward and painless experience – although a bit surprising… no temperature checks (as we had expected), no cleaning of the plane as the bus took us over to get on it whilst the arriving passengers were getting off, and then an early departure!
The flight itself was non-eventful – nice to have a seat between us as a matter of course, food and drink served as usual (although, no coffee or tea… now why would that be?), and masks the whole time, which, after wearing one since arriving in the airport was a bit of a drag (in my case) or a huge burden (in Jan’s… although he soon found a solution: if you are eating or drinking, you are allowed to lower your mask…. So drink the whole time and problem solved!). And, as mentioned above, we landed early, which was a bonus.
I did agree with Jan that we would have a ‘British-politics-free flight’ (the state of our politics being, as I think I have mentioned before (understatement of the year), the source of my daily ranting) but Jan made the fatal mistake of reading out to me a section in the paper that said that the UK Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is the new political star, despite the fact that (or maybe because of, things being so bonkers over there) he has already caused the UK to have a record debt of GBP350 billion….which, of course, set off a whole new discourse, but at least it took our minds off the general boredom of the flight for a good part of the time…
I must just say here that when I was growing up in the UK I never felt particularly British – coming from a family of Jewish immigrants, I was always proud to be a bit different, and even when supporting some form of sports team or person, I never had much loyalty to Brits – occasionally I would support an Austrian (Franz Klammer, Thomas Muster), but usually I just had my favourites, irrespective of where they came from. That changed when I moved to Prague and saw what it was like to be so proud of one’s country (as the Czechs that I met in the early 1990s were), and I always found it a bit rude when someone was critical of the UK (I must say, I have got very tired of people saying that it always rains in the UK – that’s definitely not true anymore – or is critical of British food (OK, the old-style ‘basic food’ maybe, but now?? With so many fantastic British chefs, restaurants, dishes… excuse me??)). But today, very sadly, any pride that I had of Britain has gone, and I find myself more and more ‘embarrassed to be British’.
It is thanks to the good old British lager louts rampaging about in Magaluf the other day (unbelievably shocking scenes that I don’t need to describe as I am sure you can imagine them, and, if not, take a look at the Andalusian Facebook page where the Alicante ladies are going nuts!!) that we arrived back in Spain with a big pack of masks, in readiness for the newly brought in (again) rule that requires masks in all public places, both indoors and outdoors (and God, haven’t we argued about that – Jan, due to occasionally wearing glasses (and also hating being told what to do!!), is very unhappy about it!). And it is thanks to all those Brexiteers (and yes, I am afraid that I think there is a relationship between the two) that I was slightly embarrassed about showing my British passport and hastily covered it with my Czech residency (and annoyed myself again that I haven’t tried harder to get an Austrian passport) as we made our way through Prague Airport in the morning, but there we are. It will be interesting to see if we get any more abuse from the locals (as happened towards the end of our 100 day stint and reported here).
So we landed in Malaga yesterday afternoon and made our way through the airport – the only thing different was the handing in of special ‘landing forms’ – extremely unpleasant ‘form Feds’ as Jan called them, who collected the papers that we had filled in previously as we left airside (we found the forms on the Ryanair website, hidden away and only in English (so if you are planning to fly somewhere with Ryanair yourself, be sure to look for them as they don’t hand them out on the plane as Swissair did), so we wondered how some of the Czechs from our flight got on, since the “form Feds” only spoke Spanish and were extremely difficult to understand since they were all, needless to say, masked up to the eyeballs). Not the most welcoming arrival.
But we got here. And already so much to report on in future blogs – greeted by four cockroaches, pool full of muck, garden gone berserk, extreme heat… God, it’s nice to be back!!!
At this point you can stop reading unless you are interested in a few more thoughts on flying at the moment, in which case read on!! If not, I will be back again soon!
Positives and negatives about flying at the moment:
- So far, our experience in Malaga, Prague and Zurich airports is that there are still very few planes and very few people about – so a positive.. no queues at passport or security
- Lots of discounts in the shops that are open (but sad to see, nonetheless). Lounges are either closed or open with hardly anything in them and very grim. Better to sit at one of the open cafes if you want to be entertained. But don’t get to the airport too early – not necessary and boring.
- Not many people on each plane, meaning that boarding is quick and easy
- Guaranteed seat in between – irrespective of where you sit! Nice!
- Ability to take off early – I reflected on how (comparatively) easy a job the air traffic controllers must have at the moment, and how rare it was in the past that a plane could actually leave early, even if it was ready..
- Ability to land early – we were 40 minutes ahead of schedule due, of course, to being able to go a very direct route without having to avoid many other planes! Assuming no other problems, therefore, it is pretty safe to say that the at the moment planes are likely to land early!
- Wearing a mask for the whole time in the airport and then on the plane is a bit of a drag but, as mentioned, you don’t need to wear it when eating and drinking and, so far, the services is pretty similar to before
- If one is paranoid (which we are not, or only a little bit) no sign of any cleaning of the plane, or anything else for that matter… so if you are worried, best to take your own cleaning spray/whatever
- Food and drink served (but no hot drinks!) and payment only by card
- No queuing for the loo…. (but you don’t have to ask permission, as was originally said)… which means that you have to be extremely vigilant and choose your moment to go!!).
- Less service equates to a more boring flight
- I think that is about it… really nothing to be worried about… oh…. and no health checks on arrival in Prague, Malaga or Zurich, so far…