23 Oct 2009

The Joys of Travel with Easy Jet

Other than reaching your destination safely I am not sure what the joys of airline travel are anymore. Flying is a means to an end, a way to get from A to B; it is no longer something to look forward to nor is it something to be prolonged. Flying requires courage and strength of mind. Flying requires endless patience and boundless energy.

As I ‘pushed back’ from Gatwick terminal in England early yesterday morning on my way home to France I closed my eyes and imagined travel as it was and not as it has become. There are advantages to this new millennium way of travel and I certainly benefit from that. I can travel back and forth to Marseille and London every day of the week if need be and for very little cost. I can leave my front door in St Remy de Provence and in five hours be with my children in London – four and a half if the transition is extra smooth. I am not complaining, just reflecting.

As the plane taxied down the runway the tension of an overcrowded terminal, the endless queues and the baggage searching faded away. The officious nature of the security staff no longer riled me and I forgot that I was cramped and uncomfortable. I tuned out to the noises of the other passengers; I felt sympathy for the mothers and the crying babies, their arms tired and their nerves fraught, but I was greatly relieved that it was them and not me trying to pacify the little darlings. As I fastened my seat belt even tighter (a long standing habit of mine after the experience of an aborted take-off) I remembered the days when I could carry a handbag and a small suitcase on board. I reminisced about the regular size perfume and make-up that could be thrown in with such abandon and I luxuriated in the thought that I could check-in pretty much whatever I pleased.

As we reached our cruising altitude I recollected that once-upon-a-time-long-ago travel was considered glamorous. Passengers dressed up to take a flight; there was no such thing as a bad hair day, tracksuit and trainers. A plane ride was a day out and a day out meant dressing up. As yet I have never succumbed to ‘leisure wear’ on my travels but I do dress down and have my own flight uniform. My mind receded from the boring jeans, jumper and flats I was wearing and drifted to another era. The constant hum of the engines lulled me further away from my reality and I pictured myself stretched out in a generous, reclining armchair with my head resting on a crisp linen covered pillow. I imagined that I was wearing a perky little suit, stockings and heels with my ‘hair set’ to last. My handbag was tucked by my side, my overnight valise and hat box in the overhead locker and my many monogrammed suitcases in the hold….My taste buds were tingling as I perused the menu and sipped on a chilled glass of champagne….What would I have for lunch? Boeuf Bouguignon or the Chicken Fricassee?

The captain interrupted my reverie to announce that we had started our descent into Marseille, he reminded us that local time was one hour ahead and that the weather was slightly cloudy with a good chance of clearing. My thoughts of international jet set travel evaporated as I re-opened my eyes to the joys of Easy Jet and the realness of today’s flying. My 60’s fashion extravaganza had well and truly disappeared, my champagne had evaporated into thin air and the mouth watering scents from the galley had ceased to exist. My minuscule seat had returned to the upright position and the flight attendant was now walking down the aisle with an orange plastic bag to collect the passengers’ debris. My sweet dreams had been replaced by the realities of unfinished cheddar cheese and egg salad sandwiches being tossed unceremoniously into the garbage.

A smooth touch down, a long taxi on the runway, a race through security and I had arrived.

The ‘joys’ of Easy Jet were behind me with a little help from my imagination; I was home safely and that was all I cared about.

This was my reward. xv

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64 Comments

Callie Grayson

The glamorous travel of the '60s! ahh, Pan Am, TWA, the other big plane companies.
I was little but I remember:)
My friend growing up father owned a planning/shipping company and he had these huge photos of flight attendants standing on the plane wing, in the engine in their '60s uniform, it was so glamorous.
I think that is wear I got the idea to be a flight attendant when I was young.
Glad your flight was safe!
xx
callie

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mary

Thank you, Vicki–for those memories. Now we are lucky to get peanuts and a glass of water. But I am still grateful to be able to broad a plane and mysteriously, a few hours later, have crossed an entire continent. Have a great week-end.

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Josephine Tale Peddler

I can remember the old TAA flights where they served hot breakfasts for free and there were ashtrays in the seats for the smokers! It was like a scene from Mad Men! I sound so old! I used to love flying but as I do get older I get more fearful. Enjoy your weekend, Vicki xx

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lakeviewer

A delightful trip down memory lane. Yes, air travel has changed; you better bring your own lunch these days or risk indigestion with the packaged food you can purchase at the airport. On our travel from Nice to New York last year, Air France served a lovely meal, so much better than the Delta meal on the way to France.

You are lucky to be able to do the trip easily and inexpensively. Our flight to visit our children in California is an hour and a half by plane, at a cost of $300+ round trip per person plus baggage costs.

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Mrs. FSG

I enjoyed this post. I am in my early 30s yet I was taught by my parents to always dress when travelling. You will not find me in jeans and a t-shirt at the airport. It's sad that formality of most of life has disappeared like that champagne.

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Anoninoz

What a fabulous way to get through flying with Easy jet!! I will definitely try this next time and put my imagination into a different time and way of travel!!Thank you – a great post.

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Virginia

I am laughing and crying at the same time. Those were the days and you are absolutely right about flying today! I'm only 5'2" and I'm cramped. I can't fathom what "normal" sized people experience. I can remember my mother flying to Wisconsin to visit us the year we lived there. She arrived in pumps, elegant wool dress coat and a mink pillbox! Trés chic!!
V

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My Carolina Kitchen

Beautifully written Vicki. A travel back in time when people dressed for a flight, the opera, or simply going to the city for a day of shopping. Ah, those were the days.
Sam

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CelticWoman

Oh Vicki, I so love your posts, but being an ex-airline attendant and also for a corporate fleet (almost before jet engines, lol), I relate so to this post, it is wonderful and so glad you got home safely. I worked during the time of crystal and china in first class and meals of steak and chicken cordon bleu with Dom corks popping. Hugs

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Blue Muse

Welcome home, dear Vicki!

I get so deliciously lost in your writing – I felt as though I was sitting in the tiny seat on the same plane.

I used to love to fly – it was so exciting and fun — now… like you so vividly wrote …not so much.

I would love to see an airline that went back to the glamor of it all – Wouldn't that be fabulous? Air Luxe. Maybe I'll get on that!
xo Isa

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Diane Dorrans Saeks

Vicki-

A lovely reverie indeed. You are correct. Flying is a means to a destination only (though I do love a window seat during a brief flight, to look out at the green French delicious countryside, watch the swirling clouds, see hills and ocean invisible on the ground.)

Yourwere so good-natured about the reality, and your reality, and the food delights awaiting you.

It's a good lesson–to look on the bright side, to view others uncritically, to maintain a rosy outlook, and 'take it as it goes'.

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Mary

Ah – so true – grandma always made sure I wore the right "traveling clothes" and had money for tips…..and that was for the train !!

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Pamela Terry and Edward

I was eighteen and my first plane trip was for a holiday in Los Angeles with my best girlfriend, a place neither of us had visited before. We dressed to the nines for our flight. It was so exciting.

These days, I'm always grateful for a rich imagination when I fly. Like you, I can make the less than perfect surroundings completely disappear just by closing my eyes and wrapping my pashmina a bit tighter.

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Fifi Flowers

I'm right there with you… travel is NOT what it used to be… I remember getting all dressed up to fly… hair, make up, heels, FAB outfit… STEWARDESSES that were chic… every girl wanted to grow up and be a STEWARDESS… le sigh… airplane glamour is dead!

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Cyn

Ah, I concur Vicki. I also dread the flying part of travel. I used to enjoy it. The revving of the engines and high speed run before lift off. The twinkling lights below. But lately, inner ear pain, has ruined it for me. My last flight was torture with a head cold, and altitude decline made me deaf in my left ear for a day. Oi veh! What to do.

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MrsLittleJeans

So very true! One has to train for air travel today..mentally, physically, and every other way. You found a good solution, just close the eyes and imagine! I will try this next time. Have a great weekend.

xox

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Cathi

What a lovely post, Vicki..I am going to try that the next time I fly too! You created your own little movie for the flight…! Happy weekend!

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mondo cherry

Those were the days. I always find it hard to reconcile those glamourous days of travel with the reality of the long distance travel with multiple children, mountains of luggage, spills, earaches and cramps from sleeping all over one another that is my experience! Glamourous it is not!
Clare x

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Vicki Lane

I remember flying from Florida all the way to Japan in 1964, wearing a white wool Davidow suit (a Chanel knock off), a periwinkle blue silk blouse, stockings and (horrors)a panty girdle (this being the pre-pantyhose/tights era, and white lizardskin heels. And the hairdo.

I miss the amenities but am really glad the dress code has relaxed.

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Kay

i'll have to remember this course of action next time I fly, stepping into an imaginative world of class and elegance…sounds much more appeasing than the actual experience

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Kelli

All I can say is AMEN! It did used to be so "glamorous" and now it is mostly just a pain in the "arse".
I love to travel but not do the traveling (in airplanes). You can only get a mere glimpse of what it used to be like when you fly 1st class internationally… but then again how many of us can afford that these days? :(
Glad you are back home et bon weekend!
Bisous

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Marina

Yes … the joys of travel!

You would think that in this day and age, it would be a lot easier …. but the problem is, too many people travel nowadays!!
It is no longer 'a day out"… but it takes a whole DAY, to even get to a short destination!

Like what I experienced a few weeks ago flying to Greece. After boarding at 9 pm … we sat in our seats for 2 hours, while the engineers tried to find out what was causing the computer problem …. arriving in Greece at 4.30 am!… it spoilt the weekend.
So, not only are there too many people traveling, there are a lot more security issues, plus a lot more technical problems… because of this high tech world we live in!

But even so …. I still enjoy traveling … always have… always will … ever since I was a young girl boarding a plane for that first overseas destination (which was Greece incidently) … and I will always get excited when I board a plane …. or even if anyone else is traveling.

I'm glad you made it home safely Vicki!
Great post!
Have a wonderful weekend.
xx

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The Daily Connoisseur

Yes it is so sad that glamour has been taken out of the traveling process. I used to absolutely detest flying – everything about it- but because my husband and I go to Europe so many times a year (a 10 or 11 hour flight from L.A.) I had to change my attitude about flying to make it even somewhat bearable. Now I get to the airport relatively early- fly business class, get into a lounge whenever I can and take a tylenol pm on the plane… it is just about manageable :)

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Tracey

Ahh I like your version of traveling much better! It's sad but true, it is no fun at all to fly anymore and I tend to avoid it if at all possible!

Have a great weekend!

:) T

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Maya

I guess to make it pleasurable you'd have to travel first class, which of course is insanely expensive. My flight this year with Swiss from Boston to Zurich and back was not too bad though. Swiss at least still serves really nice food with silverware, wine of choice included.

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Mimi

HI!!!
Bon journo!!!!
I loved reading your little travel story!!!
I fly often as well and I agree with you about the dress code some people are wearing out these days!!!! I too dress up for a flight unless it is a red eye flight over 5 hours!!!!
I think people have lost their pride in their appearnacce, but then I look at some of the photos of celebrities caught at the airport and they look so bad as well, the Brad Pitt gang is a perfect example!!!!!
No flying is certainly not what it used to be, gone is so much we took for granted!!!
But I will take my safety over these inconveniences anyday!!!!!!!
have a great day in France, I'm so envious!!!!!
I hope to tour Europe this next year. I wanted to make all 50 states before venturing to Europe!!!!Mission accomplished before I turned 50!!!!!
hugs,
jamie–mimi

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C

I wish I could drift away as pleasantly as you do, unfortunately, I get airsick which leaves nausea as a constant companion! I think the very last of the glamourous days may have come to an end along with the Concord. For the lucky few who can travel first class though, flying will only get more exciting with competiting airlines offering increasingly luxurious perks to entice super-rich clients. Showers, massages, manicures, full service bars, meals 'designed' exclusively by Michelin star chefs…endless!

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VictoriaArt

You captured it all so perfectly, the stress and treatment, the not so stylish travellers, the crying and the smallness of it all. The dreamy escape routes and the awakenings…
I do feel so much the same. I have had my fair share or air travel and with the few exeptions of business class, never first class I know what you are talking about. But I lived to tell the tale and I am always grateful for mine or anybody's safe arrival.

Enjoy being home again!

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Alaine

Vicki, I'm so glad you had a good flight as I'm off to New York in 3 weeks and didn't want to read of any disasters! I look forward to getting there but so dislike the plane travel!

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Anonymous

I totally agree with you about travel today. It isn't much fun and very stressful, but the end is what is important that you arrive safely.

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Jacqueline

Oh Vicki, you described that so accurately. My friend has a house in France and it's either Easyjet or Ryan air that we travel with. It's so basic, isn't it ? I was 16 when I first flew, and we went to Majorca and the older generation dressed in suits, hats and jewellery….and we were heading for a country that would be 100 degrees when we landed !!!!….but, it was so much more elegant in those days….I really loved this post and have fond memories of the 'old school' of travel. XXXX

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Marie

Vicki, I absolutely agree with your post. As my husband says, he loves getting to the destination, just not how to get there since he does not like planes. Have a wonderful weekend! BTW, have you heard yet when we can purchase your new baby? I can't wait to get a copy!
-marie

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A Thousand Clapping Hands

Traveling used to be such an event. Hats and gloves and new shoes. I loved this post. So nice to hear from you, Vicki and so glad that French Essence (the blog) arrives in my mailbox. I'm copying your book cover for my sidebar…I could use some additional loveliness! Santa will be bringing it to me I'm sure.
Wishing you a happy weekend,
Catherine

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Ms. Smart

Love the image.
I hear ya.
Yep, it is a six hour excursion to travel shuttle/cab from home, Los Angeles, to LAX, for a one hour flight to SF and then a shuttle/cab to the hotel.
I have resolved myself to the fact that it is an all-day thing, dress comfortably, and just relax into it.

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Anonymous

I loved your descripton, and while I travel often, I refuse to fly dressed so sloppy as the rest of the passengers. I try still to have a flying outfit. Usually, Chanel ballet flats, easy to slip on and off. Black slacks and a sweater set or a jacket and sweater. At least I look like an adult!
While I fly coach on domestic flights in the US, I am lucky and only fly business or first overseas. I am too old and cranky to fly coach on such long flights. Luckily, my husband agrees and at least on business or first, you can feel a little like you are flying in the traditional style of the past.

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Vintage by LOU LOU

Loved your daydream…the power of imaginaton!! I've always thought about a world cruise or perhaps even a train through China and Russia as a reconnection with travel from the past! Admittedly they are all mod conned up nowadays but this idea of making an adventure out of a trip rather than just the destination alone appeals to me…
Lou xoxo

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The romantic query letter and the happy-ever-after

Another lovely post on your very charming blog. Now as for the romance of air travel well that died when the airlines started treating the passengers as cattle instead of the valued customers they were in the 60’s. But where there is life there is hope so it might yet change.
Have a lovely weekend.

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Millie

I read yesterday that trackie pants & those DVT-preventing leg thingies have replaced elegant clothes & cigarettes on flights now. What a crying shame! Oh well, maybe not the ciggies.

Since being up-graded to First Class on a long-haul flight 'cos according the ground staff, 'You were the only one appropriately dressed!', I still eschew the trackies & live in hope history may repeat itself.
Millie ^_^

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La Belette Rouge

It would be so nice of people still dressed to travel. It makes the whole experience so much more special. For that matter it would be nice if people would dress for the theater, or for going out to dinner. Really, what is this aversion that people have to dressing up?

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Jeanneoli

So so true!!! Love this post. I still dress up when I travel but I recently met a friend for a girl's weekend and she traveled in sweatpants:-) I just want more than a half can of soda and peanuts!!!

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Cote de Texas

the first plane trip i ever took was to Acapulco when I was around 8 – we were all dressed up to the nines.

great story!

I wish I could buy your new book!!! :)

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Dustjacket Attic

Oh I just loved how you wrote this post, I felt like I was there … I wanted to stay with the dream version though.

I really love the picture you found .. if only.
xxx

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Paris Hotel Boutique

Beautiful post Vicki. I was finally able to catch my breath and read it. Boy, what happened to the Golden Age of Travel? I'm horrified at the attire on planes, ie; tracksuits, etc. You can still wear comfy clothing and look somewhat fashionable. Here's a toast to the good old days!

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Courtney

The glamour of air travel really has died, which is sad! My mom was a flight attendant for a while when I was younger, and whenever we traveled on her passes, we had to dress-up. I always enjoyed that we did– it made the trip feel special to me. While I can't say I always dress-up for flights now (since I often don jeans,) I do, however, wish there were just a bit more luxury still associated with flying!

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Mary

My first flight ever was across the pond when I emigrated to the US in 1962 on an El Al flight from Heathrow to NY – too excited to be scared, and dressed to the nines!! Since then it has gradually gone downhill and turned into a chore. Horrendous when seated next to someone (usually male) in tank top and shorts, who wants to talk all night……..and with one's knees in one's chest if you're in the 'cattle car', which I usually am!

Now, the baggage restrictions and horrid 'search and try to destroy' shenanigans we are made to endure at the airports, have made it even worse. But, let's face it, still wonderful to be able to travel the world and see one's nearest and dearest within a few hours, no matter how far apart we are.

Sea travel…….now that's another story……….

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The Red Velvet Shoe

I am SO glad that I took a moment to finally visit here again and read this wonderful post. I have to tell you that I was truly transported~~I could taste the champagne, feel the crunch of my sprayed hair~do and just imagine that delicious meal…you have such a gift of writing!
There are pros and cons to then and now, as with everything, but I do wish people would dress up more to travel!
xM

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Florrimonde

L'elegance est une vertu rare.
On peut la trouver en la posie et les beaux arts..pas en toutes ces choses superficiels.

Reply

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