No more carry on

Well the news that Alitalia is banning use of the overhead bins for flights into Italy is interesting and is sure to spread to other airlines. The reason of course is the enhanced safety protocols because of COVID. The thinking is that this will cut down the time that people spend standing in the aisle while everyone tries to fit oversized bags into the overhead bins. This makes perfect sense and the subject of carryon is one that can stir deep passions in people – either the carriers or the carry on haters.

The carriers say that they love the overhead bins and never check a suitcase. This is probably very true for business travellers who maybe only have one overnight and a day full of meetings. They want to be able to get on and get off with their bag and get the hell out of the airport and off to their meeting.

The carry on haters say that people bring too much onto a plane and it takes too long to board and too long to deplane. In addition there have been occasions when someone’s too heavy suitcase falls out of the overhead bin and bonks someone else on the head. Then we have our teeny tiny short person with a super heavy carry on bag. Now this usually tends to be a woman – because women are shorter than men usually – and being a short woman I can say this. Trying to get that heavy bag up into the overhead bin is hard if not impossible. Most carry on bags these days have handles and buckles and wheels – none of this is easy.

Whichever camp you fall into I can bet anything you have been irritated at least once in your travel life by either getting on the plane late and finding all the overhead bins full or getting to your designated seat in the front part of the plane only to find that some doofus has put his bag in your overhead bin while he toddles off to his seat at the back (which is why he was boarded first). The cheekiest of all overhead binners is of course the one who books economy but sticks his bag in the overhead bin in business class. Good try!

There are those who vow never to check a suitcase again after having lost one holding treasured possessions and favourite pj’s (never to be found again and probably auctioned off in a warehouse somewhere on the other side of the world). There are the others who like the flexibility of travelling with one small suitcase for their vacation (and wearing the same clothes every day for 3 weeks). I have done that before, and say that with pride. One carry on bag for three weeks holiday in Ireland. Shoes are the biggest problem because they are bulky but I did it nevertheless. Of course when I got home I immediately burnt the entire contents as I never wanted to see those clothes again.

It will be interesting to see which airlines follow suit. One thing I should point out is that as this overhead bin ban (wow that could be a hip hop song) was mandated by the Italian Government the airline is waiving its checked luggage fee. Now at least there is some silver lining!

New airline seats – new rules

The travel advisory has not yet been lifted but the airlines are getting ready for you – and they can’t wait! But it is going to be a little different. From the little that we have seen so far of what it is like to fly during COVID-19, it is apparent that flying is not going to be the same. Masks are required – naturally and in flight service is just not there. Instead a bag on your seat with hand sanitizer, face mask and a bottle of water awaits. But what about social distancing?

Well, as there is not a great demand right now for flights it is easy for the airlines to keep half the seats vacant so as to give some semblance of social distancing but the problem with that is simple economics. There is no way an airline can operate permanently with half loads. Some creative designers are coming up with ways to make our flights more comfortable and “spaced out”.

How about a double storey aircraft – half the seats on the higher level with access via a little ladder and the other half underneath? Everyone gets to stretch out and space out. This design has attracted the interest of several airlines. Would you like to travel like this?

I think it looks like you would have to find somewhere else to stow your carry on luggage – but this could be the answer.

Another designer has come up with this idea called the Janus seat (named after the two faced Roman god). This idea looks pretty good to me.

There’s a lot of plexi glass there to clean which is my only concern but it does give a bit of a better situation for the poor middle-seater. But then again maybe not. Can you see how the middle seat person is basically looking face to face with the person sitting next to them. It would make for some awkward eye contact moments. Experts don’t really think these new designs will take off. Airline seating has rigorous testing to go through – as Will Horton comments in his article in Forbes Magazine –

“New aircraft seats have to withstand a 16g dynamic force. A roller coaster has forces about 4g and a Formula One car 6g. The plastic barriers have to be strong enough to remain intact, but not so hard they could cause injury if a passenger’s head suddenly crashes into it.”

So maybe this is just another whimsical journey of aircraft designers for ideas that never really take off (‘scuse the pun). Like the saddle style standing seats. We saw a lot of interest in these but not a single airline purchased or installed them. The seats look like a bicycle saddle

You wouldn’t want to do a long flight on these puppies!

And the other new rule of course – wearing a mask – which might be difficult on a long flight and certainly difficult for flight attendants when someone chooses to be an ass and refuses to wear one for no good reason. Like the guy who got thrown off an American Airlines plane for refusing to wear one. He kept 122 passengers waiting while he argued with the flight attendant and when she said it was the rule he said it was not a Federal rule. She basically said to him “my house, my rules, get off”. He was very indignant and has now been banned from flying American Airlines.

So masks are no doubt going to be part of our lives for a while now – although it is hit and miss these days. Half the people in the supermarket with masks and the other half not. And for those with a sense of humour? Well there is no end to what can be used for a face mask …

Out of your comfort zone?

When you go away somewhere on vacation do you find that you end up doing things that are totally out of your comfort zone – just to fit in – or make do? I am a great one for not being the squeaky wheel and blending in with the rest of the group – or even with the family but sometimes I have to admit I have done things that are way beyond my comfort zone.

For example – the whole group decides that it would be fun to go do the zipline when you are in Costa Rica. Would I go on something like that if it was left to me – hell no! But c’mon Lesley – you are the team person remember. Can’t be left out. So I end up spending 1 hour of shaking with a mixture of nerves and adrenalin (and that was just in the bus on the way to the zipline centre). Just keep smiling, Lesley, I say to myself. No-one will ever guess how scared you are.

Actually it wasn’t that bad after I had done a couple of “lines”. My goodness that sounds like something out of a drug movie. Anyway – it was good and I was glad I did it and I will never do it again. Nope – next time I will opt for a day at the spa.

The other thing that freaks me out is the drag lift at the ski resort. Oh my goodness – I would rather get on the chair any time than be towed up one of those things. No wonder they call it drag – I don’t know how many times I have almost been dragged face down. I did it but don’t need to do that any more either!

And then there was the day of taking the stick in a glider. Now I am sure you know that a glider is a plane with no engine – usually just holds two people and you fly it with a stick – that’s a pretty basic explanation. Well of course when you are doing a guest flight you get up in the air (usually towed up by a small plane and then “released” into the skies) and then your friendly host pilot casually says “Why don’t you take the stick”. “Why don’t you go to hell” I think to myself. But no…. I smile and say “Of course” and then go through 30 minutes of terror while this engine-less plane dips and bumps around the sky. Phew – don’t have to do that again. He married me!

Then there was the time when I lived in Swaziland that we decided to do a weekend road trip to Mozambique. Just to get perspective Swaziland is a small landlocked Kingdom in Southern Africa right next to Mozambique – so just a 4 hour drive to the capital Maputo (used to be called Lourenco Marques).

Swaziland has since been renamed Eswatini

Now this would have been in about 1982 or so and at this time it was still in the middle of the Civil War (see the timeline below).

1962-74 Independence struggle: Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo) formed.

1975 – Independence: Frelimo rules under single-party system with leader Samora Machel as president.

1976-92 – Civil war.

1986 – President Machel is killed in an air crash, Joachim Chissano installed as president.

What were we thinking? Well again I just wanted to make everyone happy and when I became friendly with the Mozambique Ambassador to Swaziland he invited (no insisted) that I should visit Mozambique and he would arrange the tourist visa personally. What could I say?

So tourist visa in hand we packed up the car and headed East to the border where we successfully exited Swaziland with no problem and I practised my poor Portuguese as we went through the Mozambique passport control.

Then the fun began ….

Just 15 minutes down the road in the middle of nowhere a group of ragged looking men appeared in the road carrying AK47’s. They ran over to the driver’s window which my husband rolled down and then started shouting at him in Portuguese. Of course he didn’t understand a word so I was leaning across trying to explain that we had a visa and we were going to visit Maputo on the invitation of the Ambassador. That wasn’t working very well and needless to say I was becoming a bit tense. With that suddenly the Irish took over and I threw open my car door and marched around to them. With all of my Portuguese wheels racing I gave them a thorough telling off in fluent Portuguese and showed them the visa signed by the Ambassador. I said he would be ashamed of how his countrymen had greeted an invited visitor.

It worked.

The AK47’s were lowered, heads lowered, eyes to the ground they shuffled and apologised and came round and opened my car door for me. Obrigado! Obrigado! I said … got into the car and we drove off quietly. My husband just looked at me and said “What the hell?” and we collapsed into nervous laughter.

We arrived at the posh Polano Hotel and felt like suddenly we were living in the old Communist Bloc (which we were really). Toilet paper on ration and soap bars cut in half. Not much in the way of decent food at the hotel but we headed down to a recommended restaurant on the sea front and there treated ourselves to a slap up meal of Prawns Peri Peri. Wow – it was amazing. We were surrounded by Eastern Europeans and Russians who had come out to help in the struggle for power but they were just out for a good weekend too. The waiters were so happy to see us as of course there was no tourism from South Africa any more and they were excited to speak English again. Yes that was definitely a trip out of our comfort zone and when I think back on that – wow what a chance we took.

Sometimes you can experience great things outside your comfort zone – you just have to take that first step.

Road trips

These might be more popular this year – until at least the skies open up and let us fly away to distant lands . Road trips sound so romantic. They are the things of great literature.

On the Road – Jack Kerouac

“There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.”

Travels with Charley in Search of America – John Steinbeck

“A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.”

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert M. Pirsig

“Sometimes it’s a little better to travel than to arrive.”

And of course you can never consider a road trip without at least watching National Lampoon’s Vacation. It just never gets old.

We often hear of those who do those cross country road trips across Canada from one coast to another. It sounds adventurous and exciting – but not if you are 9 years old. Definitely not. I speak from experience.

I lived in many places as a child because my father was in the Royal Navy but one place we always travelled to – whether we lived in Scotland or in Cornwall – was Birmingham, my grandmother’s home. Slap bang in the middle of England it meant a long long car drive to get there. We hated it.

First of all my Dad would insist on getting us up at 4 am “let’s get an early start, kids”. As he chased us out of bed at that ungodly hour we were greeted by a plate of scrambled eggs. I am not joking. His theory was (after many years on aircraft carriers around the world) that a hearty breakfast settled the stomach and prepared you for the day. We were not great on these long journeys and perhaps in a way his idea worked …. for a while. We forced down the scrambled eggs and climbed into the back of the very packed up car (3 kids in the back) and headed off into the dark night.

Now in those days (and I am NOT saying how many years ago) there were not the same number of highways as today in the UK so very often we had to go through cities. By this time us 3 in the back had been swung around that many corners and up and down the hills of the Cornish and Somerset countryside that we were well and truly ready for a good “up chuck”. Those scrambled eggs had been sitting there just waiting for the chance. And Oh Yes, there was no way Dad was stopping.

I recall travelling around the big ring road in Bristol at rush hour with the two back windows open – my head out on one side and my sister out on the other side – to the disgusted fascination of the early morning commuters. The car was a real mess!

Those were the days of no seat belts and mom and dad having a ciggy in the front while we squabbled in the back. You got into the back seat and you claimed your territory and you held on to it for dear life. If your sibling’s foot dared to even touch yours it would end up in a kicking match in the back with mom turning around to give us a swipe – if she could catch us. If it really got out of control then dad would stop the car. That was Serious – with a capital S.

Nowadays the estimated travel time from Cornwall to Birmingham is about 4 and a half hours – it used to take us 8.

Yup – road trips might be the thing for these times of COVID and travel restrictions but it is certainly no kid’s idea of fun.

OK, me first

OK – me first…..

In the days before emails, facebook and twitter we used to circulate jokes and funny articles on the fax machine. And although it wasn’t funny – the story of the Captain of the MTS Oceanos was one such story that circulated throughout South Africa. The fact that most of the crew and the Captain left the ship before any passengers was astonishing. So therefore the Captain became known by his nick name “Captain OK – me first”.

But let’s go back a bit. You will remember in my last blog I told you about my first ever cruise on the Odysseus, part of the Epirotiki line. Apparently the idea of these cruises out of Durban to Mozambique and beyond had become quite popular so after our Odysseus cruise in 1989 Epirotiki brought in another ship the Oceanos – holding just over 500 passengers – to do this popular route.

So what happened that day – here is the timeline from wiki –

“Final voyage

On 3 August 1991, Oceanos – initially delayed due to a bomb threat – set out from East LondonSouth Africa and headed for Durban. Captain Yiannis Avranas (born c. 1940) had been an officer for twenty years and a seaman for thirty.[2][3] Oceanos headed into 40-knot winds and 9 m (30 ft) swells.[1] Usually, there would have been a “sail-away” party on deck with the ship’s musicians and British entertainers Moss and Tracy Hills. However, due to the rough seas, this was held inside in the Four Seasons lounge; most passengers chose to stay in their cabins.

The storm worsened as the evening progressed and when the first sitting of dinner was served, the waiters could hardly carry the trays of food without dropping something. Eventually Oceanos was rolling about from side to side so badly that crockery and cutlery began sliding off the tables and potted plants fell over.


While trying to make up time due to the earlier delay, Oceanos encountered rough seas. Earlier repairs to the waste disposal system had not been completed, which meant that a vital ventilation pipe which ran through the watertight aft bulkhead and the non-return valves was not replaced. It is believed that after a series of freak waves slammed against the ship, the pipe’s shell plating burst open and began filling the compartment with seawater. At about 9:30 pm, a muffled explosion was heard and Oceanos lost power. The ship started taking on water, rapidly flooding the engine room. By the next morning rescuers found Oceanos adrift just off Coffee Bay, listing badly to its starboard side.[4]

Now it is significant that the ship was adrift just off Coffee Bay, a small town located on what is known as the Wild Coast of South Africa. It was given that name for good reason as it was known as an area of freak storms, heavy seas and many shipwrecks over the years. It also happens to be a fairly isolated part of South Africa being bout 200 kms from the nearest port Durban and very few roads and highways in the area.

Because of the bad weather apparently many of the passengers had decided to get an early night but when they woke up in the morning they found the ship drifting and listing badly. The next entry in the story will blow your mind. The rescue effort apparently had started before dawn with many of the crew leaving the ship at 3 am and the Captain taking one of the first rescue helicopters. This is where he got his nickname “OK me first”. This is a transcript from one of the messages to the Oceanos from one of the rescue ships

–4 August 1991 —
Rescue ship to a person on the bridge of the fast sinking OCEANOS

“Where are you?”
“I don’t really know, somewhere between East London and Durban.”
“Can you give me your actual position?”
“What is your rank?”
“I’m the guitarist”

It’s true! The entertainment staff saved the day and not a life was lost.

Now as this whole drama started in the middle of the night imagine my feelings getting ready for work in Swaziland when I switched on the TV and saw this live footage of the badly listing ship off the Wild Coast. For a minute I thought it was the Odysseus itself that was sinking and having so recently cruised this area we could not believe our eyes. We sat glued to the screen while helicopters from the South African Defence Force were able to shuttle about 250 passengers off the top deck.

The entertainers became South African heroes – the magician, the Entertainment manager, the singers and dancers – they arranged an orderly evacuation and were the last ones to be hitched up by the helicopters. The ship did not disappear quickly and we sat glued to our screens while it slowly filled with water and tipped sideways.

Then as the nose filled with air the stern rose up out of the water. Deck chairs and cushions slid along the deck. It was like watching Titanic. And then slowly and gracefully the Oceanos slipped under the water and disappeared completely.

Fascinated? Watch this short youtube documentary with footage from the rescue.

Wow – so the lesson here?

On your next cruise be nice to the entertainment staff, laugh loudly at the comedian and get a front row seat for the magician’s show. You never know!

What was your first?

My first cruise was on the MS Odysseus that cruised out of Durban, South Africa on a 21 day itinerary up through the Mozambique Channel with visits to the Seychelles and the Comores Islands. Wow – that sounds adventurous for a first time cruise – but I was pretty blase about it. After all I had lived in South Africa for most of my life, had camped in the middle of game reserves, sailed a small dinghy in crocodile infested waters – Meh … what was there to worry about?

Now don’t get the wrong impression of me. I am certainly not an intrepid adventurer type of person and many of the above activities were performed with a racing pulse and a will to survive. I have told you before of my camping adventures in the middle of a pack of hungry hyenas. For the sailors out there our small two man (well one man one woman) dinghy was a Fireball – a feisty little thing with a “nappy” or harness for the number 2 (me) to put on and hang out over the side as ballast while zipping along on the water. Well I have to admit I did get quite a kick out of that. The problem was that when things became very tippy it was important to get that baby upright and sailing because we knew that the lake where we sailed was pretty full of crocs. Luckily they don’t often come out into the middle of the lake where it is deep but woe is you if you happen to drift into the shallows at the side. You certainly don’t want to be caught there.

So we thought it was time to go on a cruise. It was 1989 and it was a Christmas New Year cruise. I don’t quite know what I imagined but I was excited in our Durban hotel looking out of the window to see when the ship would arrive to make its way to the port. Eventually my husband said “there it is!”. I looked around and all I could see was this very small slightly rusty ship coming into port. “That’s not it!” I said, indignantly.

It was.

But, shame (as South Africans say), I grew fond of the old girl. And old she was – built in 1961 at just under 10.000 tons and used to cruise in South America. At just 480 passengers it just about disappears when compared to the giant ships today with over 6000 passengers. You can imagine on a 3 week cruise everyone got to know everyone else very well.

On her long career she had many names, at one time known as the MTS Marco Polo doing cruises from Australia into the South Pacific, famously being caught at sea for 5 days in a typhoon that resulted in many passengers being taken to hospital for their injuries when she finally docked in Hong Kong. She was much loved and even when she was sold and renamed the MS Aquamarine she had her fans following her. In the ’80s she was sold to Epirotiki Line and became Odysseus II. So this lady had been around the block a few times when we boarded her in 1989.

But it was our first cruise – what did we know? And it was magical. We got to visit Aldabra Island – Aldabra is the world’s second-largest coral atoll. It is situated in the Aldabra Group of islands in the Indian Ocean that are part of the Outer Islands of the Seychelles. This is the home of the giant tortoise – and we were the only people there! Wow.

One incredible “stop” was really just a slow down at the Bassas da India – this giant coral atol which is often covered by the seas is a danger to shipping and absolutely full of sharks which scuba divers seem to love for some reason. The Captain did not like this place one bit – said that the currents were too dangerous to be close. Instead he ordered a drink for everyone on board and we toasted the brave sailors who had lost their lives on this reef.

You can see that we had fun. It didn’t matter that the ship ran out of South African beer after 10 days, the menu on board became a little more limited or that the band only knew 6 songs in total. We went to places where tourists didn’t go, where cars were not allowed and when docked in Madagascar where locals were trading lemurs for whatever they could get, often throwing them up to the higher decks into the arms of waiting passengers. The Captain soon put a stop to that and ordered all lemurs returned to the island before pulling anchor and leaving.

On our way back to Durban we went back through the Mozambique Channel and hit a fierce storm that went on all day and all night. Those who could congregated in the main dining room and sat on the floor while they dished out bowls of spaghetti. For those who couldn’t make it the staff took dry toast and chicken broth to their cabins.

We arrived back in Durban tanned and full of lifetime memories. My youngest who learnt to walk on board decided that the world was far too tipsy turvy and promptly sat down on the ground when we disembarked. He just couldn’t quite get the knack of walking without the roll of the seas.

Since then I was hooked!

Camping holidays – good or bad?

It seems like in post-Covid times we might be doing our holidays a little bit differently – so they say. Maybe closer to home and in a tent. Now my thought on that is that everyone (well almost everyone) has a camping period in their lives. This usually happens when the kids are small and heading off in a tent somewhere seems to be the easiest option. Mmm not sure whose idea that was. Camping with small kids can be difficult. Add into the mix a good dose of Africa to liven things up and hey – we’ve got a party.

Yes camping in Africa has a whole new element to it to take into account. If you go somewhere remote enough you have to take all your food with you – unless you happen to be on the coast and then you can fish or catch crayfish. You have to remember to take precautions of course – remember to secure your campsite before you leave for the beach. Not because of human intruders but those pesky monkeys. They are so smart they get into anything and can easily rip the lid of any old tupperware. Be warned!

If you happen to be camping in the game reserve then a whole lot more precautions come to mind. Number one for me – go for a pee right before you go to sleep because the simple camping we did was in a two man tent and the toilet was a good walk away. You don’t want to be doing that on your own in the middle of the night. You never know what you will come across or who you might bump into. Oh hello Mr Lion. Actually we should be more afraid of bumping into Mrs Lion as she does all the hunting. And really it would be more dangerous probably to run into a hippo in the night. They are incredibly fast you know. They don’t look it. BBC – Ungainly as it is, the hippopotamus is the world’s deadliest large land mammal, killing an estimated 500 people per year in Africa. Hippos are aggressive creatures, and they have very sharp teeth. And you would not want to get stuck under one; at up to 2,750kg they can crush a human to death.

It also seems that tents are curious things to many animals. We experienced this too. The odd jackal pulling at the guy ropes while his cousins (?) the hyenas have a huge fight next to the camp fire over the left over bones from our dinner. I wonder what the jackal was looking for – or maybe he was just curious. Maybe the hyenas wouldn’t let him join in the fun so he decided to see if the humans would come out to play.

But there are maybe types of tents and many variations of camping – hence the new buzz word – glamping. Now I can definitely handle this without a problem.

Getting away from it all in the middle of the Grumeti Game Reserve Tanzania
OK – I am fine with this type of camping

So I think I can say with some certainty that I have graduated from the 2 man tent to something a little grander. Mind you – at the moment with the amount of cabin fever going on I might just settle for a small tent with basic facilities in the middle of nowhere … well … maybe not!

What would King Tut say?

I think just about every person studied the story of King Tutankhamun in school. The story of the boy king who died so suddenly and was buried in an elaborate tomb in the Valley of the Kings. For thousands of years he lay undiscovered in his tomb until Howard Carter stumbled upon it in 1922. Sometimes true life is more fascinating than fiction and this indeed reads like a Raiders of the Lost Ark story – but it is all real.

Carter searched for 6 years to find the tomb and when his backer (Lord Carnarvon) gave him just one more year’s grace, lo and behold – he uncovered some steps in the desert and the rest, as they say, is history.

What made me think about this? A National Geographic article I came across where they are now speculating about the brown spots on the wall of King Tut’s tomb and whether these are bacterial in nature and could they be evidence of what caused the young King’s death. The good news is that you are OK – you can still go and visit the tomb and the brown spots are not dangerous.

That is you can go and visit when we all get back to normal!

But something else in that article gave me pause for thought. The problem of keeping the tomb dust free is very difficult considering that it is in the middle of the desert and the tomb has 500 to 1000 visitors EVERY DAY! Oh my goodness. So here is something good to come out of COVID for our post-covid travel. It makes a strong case case for visiting hitherto closed up historical sites, cities, countries. You will experience these places without the thousands of tourists. Imagine being the only person in St Mark’s Square? Well I doubt that would happen but if you have ever been in St Mark’s Square when it is jam packed I know you will appreciate less people. You could get that chance when tourism starts up again because it will be slow and that will be the ideal opportunity to enjoy these places without the crowds.

Like King Tut! After the revolution in 2011 everything stopped for Egypt’s tourism. In 2013 I decided to go and visit the source of the tales that had fascinated me since childhood. I figured that tourism was starting up again and I could see it before the crowds. I was so lucky to visit King Tut and be in his tomb with no line up and just the guide, me and my husband. Wow.

So maybe King Tut has a message for us. Maybe he is lying there in his tomb thinking about the ebb and flow of visitors over the years as wars come and go – as do plagues, and flu and now COVID.

When things open up don’t wait! Go when the crowds are small and the experience is intimate. This is your chance.

Did you see Dr Who on your flight?

Are you a Dr Who fan? The eccentric doctor (who has changed from old to young, male to female over the years) travels through time in his trusty time machine, the Tardis. It actually looks like a telephone booth from the outside.

But when you open the door a whole new world awaits inside – it is a massive space ship style feel that can transport you to anywhere and any time.

So what has that to do with travel you might ask. Well airports are getting creative with how to clean us dirty humans up before we get on a flight and one idea is the sanitizing booth. Step into this beauty and when you come out you will be clean as a whistle and ready to board your flight – maybe not to another time but certainly to somewhere else than here – which is a novelty in itself at the moment. This is being tested at Hong Kong airport and while this is a good idea I must say it doesn’t have the charm of Dr Who’s Tardis.

But hey, if it does the job then it’s good with me. Similar ideas are being used in other spots around the world – maybe not as sophisticated as this but generally with the idea of stepping through a portal that will disinfect the person passing through.

And scientists, like Dr Who (well he is really a scientist surely) are working hard on other ways of keeping us safe and germ free when we fly. The use of UV light has been said to kill off such viruses so you may find these on your next flight.

But even though it is Ultra Violet light it won’t quite have the same effect as those old Disco lights. C’mon admit it. I know there are those of you out there who used to dress all in white just to stand out at the disco. Nothing to be ashamed about – we all did it.

Now if someone could come out with a team of Daleks who could roam around airports and shopping malls just killing the corona virus cells that would be brilliant. Can you imagine how excited (or terrified) the kids would be. Well Sandford Police in the UK thought this would be a great way to remind people about social distancing. Because we are ALL terrified of the Daleks – aren’t we?

Could this be the end of the middle seat?

Airlines are now offering flights with the middle seat unoccupied so as to try and maintain some kind of social distancing. It isn’t really far enough apart to constitute the 6 feet needed but better than nothing. In fact for those of us who have flown in crowded planes squashed in the middle seat it is a real bonus.

But will this continue? Is this how things are going to be from now on, forever and ever, happily ever after? I don’t think so. There are a few problems with this scenario and the most obvious is that there is no way they can get enough people on board a plane leaving the middle seat vacant and still be able to cover the costs of the flight.

So for the time being there are flights happening around the world but very limited – some only domestic and a few international. If you are curious this is the listing as of yesterday

When we get back to “normal” whatever that is going to look like – there will no doubt be changes to airline travel but those changes are going to have to be in keeping with the economic needs of the airlines and the passengers. As nice as it would be to never have a middle seat on a flight again I doubt this will happen.

So what changes can the airlines make? Well there will probably be lots of health checks both at check in and on the flight. Pity the poor soul with a genuine case of allergies or a tickle in the back of the throat. They might find themselves deplaned. There will be lots of masks – we have seen that already – and lots of wiping down with sanitizer. How many times have you seen the person next to you wiping down the tray table and armrests. Yep – they are smart people. I have a whole bunch of unused sanitized wipes in my travel bag – I will definitely be using them next time.

There is talk that airlines will change the seating – at least maybe with new aircraft. Talk of perspex divisions between seats. That would be a good idea – and another area to wipe down at the beginning of a flight. And also maybe a change of the configuration – one such suggestion like this

And this one

Don’t touch that arm rest !!!