Air travel used to be a privileged adventure, but has now become a humiliating ordeal … no matter what end of the plane you are sitting in. Apart from going to prison, no other activity in contemporary life exposes you to such intimidation, ugliness, regimentation, over-crowding and cruel dehumanising as the decision to go to an airport.
By contrast, consider my last trip to Milan: a mere six hours from Paris and you pass Lamartine's haunting Lac du Bourget and go through the terrible mountains besides the Col du Fréjus by just the same magnificent route the Grand Tourists used 250 years ago.
Why did she think I would be interested in this gem of telegraphesque old-fogey wisdom? Because we're going to meet up not far from Milan, in Bergamo, at the end of June. She is going by train, as is her wont, and I'm not. She booked her train ticket a few weeks ago and will no doubt enjoy an interesting trip to Milano Centrale then on to Bergamo.
I, on the other hand, cleverly booked a very cheap flight with Myair, a low-cost company with direct flights from Bordeaux to Bergamo, Venice and Bologna. Unfortunately there was no flight on the Sunday I wanted to travel, but I took a flight on the Saturday instead and roped Deborah into coming to keep me company for a couple of days.
A few weeks ago, Myair contacted me to tell me that all flights from Bordeaux to Bergamo had been cancelled until the end of June. Just like that. My heart fell but after a few hundred hours on the internet I discovered that Myair had actually introduced a new flight from Paris Orly to Bergamo. It wasn't scheduled for Saturdays but I could get it on the Sunday. I quickly booked that flight and a connecting Air France flight to Paris Orly from Bordeaux. Great.
Great, that is until midnight last night when Myair sent me another e-mail telling that they had changed my itinerary yet again. The bad news was that Sunday's flight had been cancelled and the good news, well there was no good news, because all they can offer is a replacement flight on Monday and by that time Deborah will be on her relaxing train trip back home and the conference I'm going to will be well underway.
The only alternative I can find is to maintain my non-reimbursable Air France flight to Orly, forget the Bergamo flight and replace it with a flight from Orly to Milano Linate and then take a bus and then a train to Bergamo. That sounds easy, doesn't it?
The moral of this saga is threefold: sometimes the tortoise really does beat the hare, low-cost always means high-hassle and Myair is a crap airline.