At last, the big day finally arrived. Had I packed everything? Was the plane going to be on time? Was the M1 still open, or had it been closed for vital repairs that seem to be only achievable by two men and fifty-thousand traffic cones? After a swift and relatively traffic free journey down said motorway, I arrived at Heathrow airport.
Now, most of you reading this will no doubt have travelled abroad on an aeroplane. However, for those of you who haven’t, (and I know of at least two people, one of whom was an air cadet, so that’s weird) I thought I would compose a definitive guide to help you when you do consider leaving the Main Land.
The first thing you’ll encounter as you enter Heathrow Airport (a very large version of an aerodrome) is the Check In desk. It will be manned by a uniformed mechanoid equipped with perfectly white teeth. You will meet many of these automatons, performing various tasks around the airport. At the Check In desk your passport, ticket, retinas and fingerprints will be scanned, then your body mass registered to calculate the take-off thrust needed. A sample of blood and urine may also be required in the event of ‘an emergency’ whilst in-flight. Your baggage will be rejected after it has been labeled, weighed and deemed to be too heavy and of an offensive colour. When you have emptied the contents on to the floor and had a youth re-spray it beige, you can wave it good bye as it vanishes through the portal behind the desk. This will be the last time you see your baggage, it will go onward to have adventures of it’s own in a completely different country to your destination, probably getting a better tan.
After negotiating your way around the laser flex-barriers and finding the Hall of Departures, you will come to the second barrier. Security. It is vital whilst going through Security that you mention in a loud clear voice that you are not carrying a bomb. The automatons here are equipped with the latest weaponry and have very light trigger pincers, so it will relax and reassure them that you are unarmed. After stripping naked and having a layer of skin removed as you pass through the body scanner, you may be invited into a small room nearby for a more in-depth examination conducted by a man wearing only surgical gloves and a smile. Don’t worry if he has a squint or that his face is covered in small warts, this is a hazard of the job. After clearing Security, you will be free to roam the Hall of Departures.
This area is designed to extract the last few pennies that you may have in your pocket or bank account. All of the retail units here have their finest wares displayed at the front of the store, tempting you with subtle subliminal messages. Yes, you really do need to buy a seven hundred pound camera with auto focus and 3D lens, yours is on its way to a better place. That bottle of two hundred pound champagne will fit in your tiny carry-on bag. Toblerone tastes better from an airport. It’s okay if they charge five pounds for a pint of beer. You may go into this mecca of retail with an iron will and a closed wallet, but after three hours of relentless commercial battery whilst you wait for your flight, you’ll crack and buy the tequila with the funny hat as a stopper.
Whilst walking around, carrying under arm a two foot square block of chocolate you could’t resist, you’ll have noticed hanging from the ceiling many large bright screens and signs. Almost all of these will be advertisements for countries owned by sheiks, or for places you could have sworn had just been overrun by popular uprising. Look closer, however, and you may notice boards bearing flight information written in such a small font that the zoom function of your new camera will be tested to it’s limit. When you have translated the mystical language it is written in, and the time on your new Breitling matches that next to your flight number, you may then proceed to The Gate.
This is the final barrier between you and the aircraft, and is relatively harmless. After showing your boarding pass to the automaton at the end of the longest corridor you have ever walked down, you find yourself in the Waiting Room of many Chairs. After noticing there are no toilet facilities in this area, you will instantly need to use one. This room is where you will get the first chance to see your co-travellers. Take note of the ones likely to be of most usefulness in the event of crash landing, noting age, build and whether or not they are connected to a life support machine. Also take notice of any infants, the ones with lungs to match those of a banshee are probably going to be sat with you. Eventually, and finally, an announcement for you to board will be given. You are now ready for your first flight.
As you climb aboard, you will be greeted by more automatons, these wearing the company uniforms. They will check your boarding pass and make the decision which side of the plane you will be permitted to sit. If you turn left, well done! You have chosen First Class. You can now relax and enjoy the flight in the comfort of your own seat, hot and cold running service at your beck and call. If you turn right, you will be propelled on a conveyor belt toward your pod, and strapped in by mechanical arms protruding from the ceiling. A screen will appear before your face and you will be greeted by Captain “Air Cool” Valiant, the pilot. He will have a perfect BBC accent and an impressive moustache. Before going through the inflight safety routine and the precautions to be taken in case of air Kraken attack, he will introduce his co-pilot, Otto. You may notice they are both ever so slightly drunk. When all are aboard and the engine has been stoked, take off will commence.
If you are fortunate enough to have a window seat, you can watch as the wings flex and bend alarmingly under the strain of thousands of pounds of thrust being blasted out by the engines. Depending upon the make of the craft, the engines can take the form of propellors, jets, scram jets, rockets or a neutronium based pan-galactic star drive. Either form will send you careening down the runway and toward the stratosphere in a matter of moments. As you pass about sixteen and a half thousand feet, you will enter what climbers call ‘The Death Zone.’ This is so called because the lack of oxygen and the temperature at this altitude make it difficult to breathe. Don’t worry though, you are in a pressurised container and will be going far higher than that, causing your ears to pop and fillings to explode. As you climb, the aeroplane will come under attack from a gang called ‘Turbulence’, causing Captain Valiant to take avoiding action by hurling the craft from side to side and up and down. This will mean a delay in the preparation of your mid flight bowl of Brown, the Captain and aircrew apologise for this and will be along after the battle has resulted in victory.
When cruising altitude has been reached, things will be fairly still. The entertainment will be provided by the screaming infant and a selection of films on the screen in front of your face, all of which you will have seen before. The sound will be either be to quiet or so loud your ears will bleed.
It is rare, but not unknown of, for a small Gremlin to appear on the wing out side your window and begin to pull pieces from the craft. Don’t worry, just let the automated steward know and soon a mild sedative will find it’s way into your intravenous drip bottle. Just relax, the gremlin will go away before any major damage is done.
Enjoy your flight.