Tips for the travelling translator/interpeter (2): don't sink to their level

Post date: Oct 14, 2013 7:46:1 AM

We've all seen it (and most of us have probably done it): travelling with "hand baggage" so enormous that you have to squash everybody else's belongings just to get it into the overhead locker. And the reason behind this antisocial behaviour? We can't be bothered to wait the few minutes it takes these days for the hold baggage to appear.

I know the "low-cost" airlines have tried to stamp out this abuse of cabin space (for purely economic reasons). Travel on what is still laughably referred to in some quarters as a "full-service" airline, however, and you will see what I mean: passenger after passenger stomps up the aisle with what can only be termed a proper suitcase, determinedly looking for a space in a locker where they can crush other passengers' duty free goods (and my laptop bag). The cabin crew collude in this ludicrous game, although their fixed smiles sometimes look a little pained as they expertly ram cases into spaces.

The pilot makes an appeal over the PA for small items to be placed under the seat in front, just so we can squeeze all the wheeled colossi in. Some cases that didn't make it into lockers are carried somewhat mysteriously to the back of the plane. Finally, we get on our way.

On arrival, the process is played out in reverse, with potentially deadly consequences, as businessmen (we all know it's usually businessmen), in their I'm-so-important hurry, haul their cases out of the lockers onto the heads of other passengers queuing to get off the plane. Once disembarked, they sail through the airport feeling pleased with themselves, inwardly laughing at all the saps waiting at the carousel. Ten minutes later, I catch up with them in the taxi queue.

So if you want to look like a real pro traveller, chill out, and get on the plane with a small bag containing an ipad, headphones, something to drink, and a copy of an obscure yet intellectual-looking foreign-language publication. And leave the boys with hand baggage envy to their silly games. Then catch up with them in the taxi queue, or comfort yourself with the thought that you'll probably be home before them anyway, because one of the reasons they can't be bothered to wait a few minutes to pick up their baggage is that they live in a ludicrously out-of-the-way location nowhere near an airport, whereas you had the good sense to live five minutes away, er, right under the flight path...