Too much baggage

English: This image is licensed to use under t...

English: This image is licensed to use under the terms outlined below. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had only just started secondary school when my headmaster once overheard me calling our needlework teacher, Mrs Morrison, a nazi. She was ridiculously strict and if you were no good at needlework (I was terrible), every lesson came with a guarantee of a good tongue-lashing.

The headmaster was furious and took me up to his office. He asked me if I knew exactly what a nazi was. The sum total of my knowledge of nazis at the time was that they were the bad guys in my commando comics. At the end of the conversation, I knew exactly what nazis were and I also knew that Mrs Morrison had been a resistance fighter in France during the war. I have never been so ashamed.

The luggage police at the front of the queue on budget airlines remind me of Mrs Morrison sometimes. They have their luggage gauge and they are not afraid to use it. Anyone whose bag doesn’t fit or is too heavy is going in the hold for some extortionate fee or is it the luggage – I can never remember. On normal carriers, they seem more relaxed about hand luggage. Some of the cases I’ve seen people take on to a plane are absolutely enormous.

There are lots of good reasons for travelling with hand baggage only. It can save you money on a low-cost airline. You know the airline can’t lose your bag if it’s safely stowed above your head. It saves time at the other end, but the main reason is that collecting luggage is the most mind-numbingly tedious activity known to man.

You hike the mile from the gate into the terminal, then queue up for ages at immigration before arriving in the baggage hall. You walk over to the screens to find out which carousel is yours only to find that your luggage still hasn’t appeared. As you wait for the luggage from your flight to start spewing forth onto the carousel, a rugby scrum of people will build up. No matter how close you stand to the carousel – someone will stand in front of you blocking your view.

If I built an airport, I would offer a service to text the passengers as their luggage appeared. I would also provide a relaxing environment in which to wait. I might even offer food and drink. Entertainment would be laid on for people as they patiently waited to receive their text message. I would also offer a service whereby you could leave a forwarding address and I would courier your luggage to you so you didn’t have to wait.

Everyone would want to fly from my airport. Even Mrs Morrison would be happy.

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My journey in ten years time

English: Sydney International Airport Terminal

English: Sydney International Airport Terminal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the way to the airport, I sit in the back of my car reading my newspaper. It almost feels like a newspaper of old, appearing as it does on a foldable, flexible, digital device. My wife chats to her family using the onboard video conferencing facilities.

The journey is whisper quiet as the hydrogen fuel cell propels us effortlessly along the motorway. Without drama, a voice announces that we are five minutes away from the airport. I fold the paper 4 times until it is small enough to fit into my pocket.

As we approach the airport terminal, the sensors overhead automatically validate that we have the necessary travel documents and the voice inside the car asks us to confirm that no-one could have interfered with our bags and yes it was us that packed them. The safety video is played to us on our in car entertainment system. The RFID tags in our luggage are automatically registered and associated with our booking.

As we pull up outside the terminal, we disembark. An automaton retrieves our luggage from the back of the car before rumbling off on its merry way towards the aircraft hold. The car disappears to go and park itself and we know that the next time we see it will be just outside the arrivals hall when we return.

Before long, we are aboard the aircraft and trundling down the runway. My wife picks up where her conversation left off using the videoconferencing facilities onboard the aircraft. I unfold my newspaper once more and pick up where I left off. Without any request from us, an automaton appears with our choice of drinks and food before going off to serve someone else.

Travelling from England to Australia used to take near enough a full day, but nowadays it’s just a brief suborbital hop and we arrive in a couple of hours. The touchdown is smooth and before too long, we are disembarking. As we walk down the the air bridge, we are automatically scanned for contraband and our travel documents are checked. We head for the exit and find our way to the queue for transit onto our final destination.

On the way to the transit, an automaton carrying our luggage catches up with us. As we board the vehicle, our luggage is automatically stowed and we set off. No need to specify where we are going as the vehicle has already worked that out. After a short journey, during which we are automatically checked in, we pull up outside the hotel.

We walk straight in, as another mindless robot picks up our luggage before taking us straight to our room. As we tuck into some welcoming drinks, the robot packs our things away.

There’s nothing quite so relaxing as travelling from one side of the planet to the other.