RICHARD ORD: The burning issue of modern air travel

Isaac Ord in shades.
Isaac Ord in shades.
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The jury’s still out on whether the burned out fuselage of a jet at the side of Newcastle International Airport instils confidence or induces fear.

The charred metal ‘plane’ visible as you taxi up the runway is a training facility used by the airport crews to practice their emergency firefighting techniques.

On the one hand, seeing the mock up of plane gives you confidence in knowing the firefighters have been brushing up on their skills. On the other hand, “Oh My GOD! We’re all going to die in a blazing fireball!” springs to mind.

It’s like sitting down to a meal in your favourite restaurant while the waiting staff practice the Heimlich manoeuvre on dummies through the kitchen service hatch.

At least the training team weren’t carrying out a full-on emergency exercise as we headed off on our hols.

Given the airport operates all year round, there must be a time when passengers heading off to the Costa Del Sol are greeted by a firefighters tackling a raging inferno from their cabin window.

As I’ve touched on in the past, my wife has a terrible fear of flying.

It’s is something in recent years that she has overcome by a combination of experience, reasoned thought and copious amount of vodka.

Needless to say we departed and returned with little fuss.

What never ceases to surprise at airports is the madness of the carousel.

Isn’t it amazing how quickly you forget what your luggage case looks like?

We become luggage blind. Everyone does. Luggage blindness is contagious. It spreads like wildfire as people jostle for position around the carousel.

Cries of “that’s it, grab it Geoff. No, the blue one!” fill in the air.

There’s a collective madness grips all. People grabbing the wrong cases, shouting, crying.

The struggles that go on defy logic.

It’s as if they only have one chance to remove their case from the carousel.

Fail to claim your case and it drops off the end and into a pit of fire.

You see people jogging alongside their case grappling with the handles as if their life depended on it.

They haul them off with all the desperation of a coastguard plucking plane crash survivors from shark-infested waters.

Luggage blindness is an issue of memory put under pressure. A similar thing happens on the petrol forecourt at Sainsbury’s when you fill up the car.

You spend three minutes at pump number 3, but in the 30 seconds it takes to walk to the pay counter you forget it.

They should replace the numbers with more memorable indicators, like superheroes or horror movie villains. “Hannibal Lecter, and a Mars bar thanks.”

Or perhaps that’s just me.

I’ve always said there’s only two things wrong with me. One. I’ve got a terrible memory, and two, I’ve got a terrible memory.