Published: August 15th 2009August 5th 2009
I don't have a crystal ball. But in ten years time, I bet we won't be racing the world around on cheap flights.
Lets all cross our fingers and hope that the price of oil goes back up and keeps going skyward.
For the good of the world and our kids, lets hope 'Budget Flights' are just a silly passing fad. 'Pay peanuts and you'll get monkeys'
is the old saying - I paid peanuts for my flight, and monkeys now are boarding the plane to Valencia. Clambering aboard, pushing and jumping over the seats. Howling and shrieking as their child-chimps smother chocolate over their faces.
An international chimps tea-party at 20,000 feet.
The Hoi-Polloi, cattle class, scum-shuttles... cheap flights are grim, ugly, noisey and responsible for the increase of air travel - and air travel is, as we all know, the number one killer of the environment.
More short air routes means more CO2. Budget airlines increase traffic on the ground and air, sell over-priced junk food, are filthy and cramped, they hold small cities to ransom with their demands and erode the ability of decent airlines to provide a sustainable service. Flying rust buckets waiting
Immoral stag-do parties use them to invade historic cities for cheap drunken weekends - Prague, Riga, Warsaw have all suffered.
They encourage relocation of retirees to warmer 'sunbird belts' - Spains recent unsustainable building boom and subsequent environmental decay could not have happened without the influx of cheap airtravellers.
Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad....
But i still book my flights, I queue up and squash on board for the simplest, cheapest, unfrilly-est way of getting to the warm weather of Spain. I'm happy to whip out my credit card and rush from work with only my carry-on luggage, queue-barge and become a jet-chimpanzee with the rest of them so that i can crash down for rock bottom prices.
Am I a hypocrite?
Yes, but then...No.
Let me explain....
Tell me what the tax is on airline fuel. 15%? 25%? 50%?
There is none - airlines argued years ago, worldwide, to avoid taxing aviation fuel as they could just go and fill up across the border in a different country, and the governments gave in, awed by the glamour of flying, and the lure of investment cash.
Fuel is cheap for the airlines and people in power are helpless to punish the polluters.
I recently flew to New York for 200 quid return. Two hundred quid. Hundred quid each way to get across the Atlantic, in a few hours and to eat a little meal on the way.
Flights should cost a whole load more. The value of crossing the Atlantic (to me) is worth twice, three times that - EACH WAY! I would pay 600-800 quid for a journey like that, not because i'm loaded with cash, but because its an absolute miracle of human invention to be able to travel that far, that quickly!
- a 7 hour flight takes 7 days on a ship!
That 200 quid flight to the Big Apple was taking off wether i booked on it or not.
And I don't know an easier and cheaper way of swapping the UK's wet soup summer for the baking Valenciano sun.
And thats the problem.
I reckon we could all afford to pay green taxes of three or four times what our tickets cost us.
We cant afford not to for our planets sake, but it would also make
us value our travels more, we would appreciate the trips that we had to save up for and hopefully it may reduce the careless destruction of the cultures and societies of what we sought at the other end of that flying metal tube.
But we're all spoilt now.
We all expect a cheap deal on a flight at the click of a mouse.
But none of us deserve this - cheap transit is not a right, but hopefully a crazy, ugly fad we're living through like Rubiks Cubes, celtic tattoos or social networking...
'Cheapflights' are not so cheap anymore, anyway.
Ryanair stung me for forty quid to check in at the Stanstead airport. 'Forty quid, or you cant get on our plane that you've already paid 60quid for a ticket' - and thats just one-way.
Over in Spain, most of the ex-pats (who moved there because of the cheap flights) had recently driven back to England for a few weeks. They told me that the ferry companies are fighting back with discounts and new routes. They gossiped about the lovely little French village they discovered to stay in overnight, the food they had, the differences between the
I'll put money on it. I'll put my money where my mouth is.
I'd be happy to see higher cost flights if it discourages me from junk-flights and having to go to crowded airports, with their pointless security, de-humanising duty-free and cattle-slaughter glamour.
I'll book sleeper trains, drive through little villages, read maps badly and get lost.
I'll take my time and have manners, chat to fellow travellers and think about whats bothering me.
The sun will feel warmer, the sea fresher, the change in cultures will taste more exotic and my eyes will open wider.
And then I'll just have to go away for longer.
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