This is not, repeat not another blog about flying, and the funny things that happen at airports. OK it is a little, but I’m using it as an example, or a metaphor so it’s alright.

Budget airlines have been responsible for turning several accepted norms on their heads.  Easyjet and then Ryanair popularised the model of selling tickets cheaper, the more in advance you booked. This meant that their most expensive tickets were being sold at the last minute before flying.  Prior to the this, waiting for last minute flight bargains was the norm, and people would turn up at an airport, and take whichever destination offered the best deal. Last minute deals are now a thing of the past.  For budget airlines, selling tickets early means they can bank your cash, and fill the plane well in advance, thus covering their operating costs in a safer way.  Most people like this model, including me.

The same thing has happened to concert ticket sales, where tickets are made available often 1 year in advance of an event, and late buyers have to pay over the odds to ticket touts.

Back at the airport, it’s also pretty astonishing how airlines have convinced us to pay extra in order to be among the first to board.  This is a plane that won’t leave without you (you have a ticket), but the perceived notion is that you get to choose your seat, and who sits next to you if you are a “Speedy Boarder”.  Of course they could have just put a seat number on the ticket when you bought it, but that might mean you were slower getting to your seat, and wouldn’t raise any revenue.  You can even upgrade to Speedy Boarding whilst standing in the slow boarding queue!  Personally, I much prefer to be the very last person to board.  That means I don’t have to stand in the queue at all for the 30 minutes before boarding, and get to choose who I sit next to. “Ooh, big sweaty fat man or petite cute lady, let me think.”

But what does it say about us, that we can be so easily manipulated by such obvious subterfuge?  Us Brits have a long tradition of queuing (standing in line) and have established an accepted etiquette for doing so; no queue-jumping, no holding spaces for others, no eye-contact, everyone face forward etc etc.  Clearly Easyjet and Co are exploiting our national psychosis that makes us suspicious of anyone trying to get a jump on us.  Most people aren’t especially competitive, but will tear out your lungs if you attempt to edge past them in a queue.

Perhaps a re-prioritising is in order. Maybe we can cool our jets about the stuff that doesn’t matter and rebel against those who deliberately try to wind us up.  Refuse to engage in their stupid games to jump a non-existent queue.  Speedy Boarding can’t work if everyone or no-one falls for it.  Only suckers get on the plane first.

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Stephen O'Donnell is a lifelong recruiter, internet enthusiast, fadgadget and peripatetic writer.

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