Unless you have wealth, webbing or feathers, there is little glamour left in air travel.
The humiliation of the consumer is one that no other service would demand save perhaps Apple with an iOS upgrade or the NHS and its proctology (with whom, tellingly, air travel has a weird kinship).
And yet, for the 15 years I have lived in the Docklands, pseudo-jetset luxury has been tantalisingly close.
To fly from London City Airport. I could still be in bed while the pilots were warming the engines. I could have another brew while the frequent flyers were tackling Canning Town.
It was a dream set to be fulfilled last week. I ambled to check-in, minutes to spare, with the superior smile of a shower-fresh somnambulant. Uncrumpled, unfrazzled, calm.
Fifteen years I had waited…
… Then two more hours. All flights grounded because of fog. I found a floor tile near the back door of a sandwich shop, sank down and closed my eyes. Heathrow all over again.
I cursed my luck, the weather and the Wright Brothers and found only fleeting pleasure when, hours later, I soared away – crumpled, frazzled and stressed – in a Fokker F50.
If it is any consolation, my return flight was an experience that would repair any dejected soul.
We banked, looped over the City – Tower Bridge, TS Tenacious – then Canary Wharf – I can see my workplace! – the Kelly Brook curve of the Island, The O2, Royal Docks – I can see my home!
He who is tired of London should take a gander from 1,600ft as Samuel Johnson would have written before his tray table was stowed and his seat returned to an upright position.
Then – bliss – from baggage claim to bubbling kettle in 15 minutes. I’m living the dream people. Albeit later than scheduled.