We flew out to Orlando today. We flew with Mr. Branson's favourite airline, which meant going to Manchester Airport to get on the plane, along with 450 other soon to be close friends. Normally I fly from Humberside Airport, which is just down the road and tiny. When you ring them up and ask them what time the plane takes off they ask "What time can you get here?". They don't have a luggage belt, just a chap with a wheelbarrow. Actually I'm being a bit unfair here, they have everything that you get at a proper airport. Last year they even had a delay. I love flying from Humberside, but I also love money, and unfortunately flying from Manchester was much cheaper.
Anyhoo, we got to make a two hour drive to Manchester and queue for a while. I tried to check in on-line, but the system wouldn't let me because all the on-line check-in was full. I wasn't sure what that meant until I got to the airport. The idea of internet check in is that you do all the hard stuff before you just turn up and drop off your luggage. The funny thing was that the queue at the airport for the luggage drop off was about three times the size of the normal one, which I thought was rather funny. Although of course our queue ran at a quarter the speed, which I guess more than levels things out.
The reason for this seemed to be that people were very fussy about where they were going to sit. I think that planes are now so big that they are becoming like cities. You have your east side and your west side, and a very dodgy neighbourhood down at the tail end. During the flight I went up to the galley to get a drink, and saw a rather nasty incident between the Sharks and the Jets which had to be defused by the stewardess lobbing in those little cans of cola (Virgin of course) and a barrage of small bags of pretzels. Down towards the cockpit someone had set up a gated community and where we were sitting several of the seats had been boarded up. In the middle over the wings there were loads of skips outside the seats, each full of last year's furniture.
But I digress. At least I got an aisle seat. Unfortunately it was behind the only person bad mannered enough to tip their seat back. I don't know whey they make the seats recline, because although you get that 75mm of extra space you also have to listen to the crunching of bones and the screams of pain from the person sat behind you. I had to put my legs into the aisle where they were run over by the drinks trolley and every one of the hundred or so small children that were also on the flight. Great stuff.
Eventually, we arrived more or less intact and made the taxi ride to the airport. The hotel is actually quite posh, and I'm really looking forward to the conference. And Disneyland.