You might say that flight crews are professionals in catching flights. So why is it that I become a complete nitwit the moment I’m a passenger myself?
Take the last time for instance. First of all, every time I use Schiphol airport, I’m struck by how big it is. This time too, it takes me ages to find the right drop-off point for my luggage and then I struggle with the check-in machine for quite some time before it accepts us on the flight. And although I’ve done it a thousand times before, the security employees have to remind me to take off my shoes. I’m too busy talking to my travelling companion.
At the check-out of a tax-free shop I can’t find my boarding card. And my passport seems to have disappeared too. Taking slow, deep breaths and trying to think logically, I realise I must have left them in one of those baskets at the security check. The security guy hands over my stuff with a smile on his face that tells me many others have done this before me.
As I walk through the airport, I wave and smile cheerfully to all my ‘blue’ colleagues who are either going to catch a flight or go home. Their responses are friendly and polite, but after a while I realise that they don’t recognise me without my uniform and most probably think I’m a lunatic.
Meanwhile, I’m overwhelmed by all the information on sign boards. Suddenly I understand much better why passengers ask me the way to F-Pier while they’re standing right underneath a sign showing the route.
On board I can’t help keeping a careful watch on the cabin staff. Call it professional interest. I don’t think anyone on the plane is watching the flight safety demonstration more thoroughly than me, for instance.
We booked a package deal and we aren’t flying KLM, so a few things are different on the plane. I feel rather stupid when I accidentally press the alarm button in the lavatory, mistaking it for the flush button. The cabin attendant who comes to check it out is very friendly and understanding. Maybe she’s been flying with another airline as well and had the same experience?
Gazing out of the window at the beautiful Pyrenees, I’m looking forward to our holiday in Andalusia. Meanwhile, I’m sure this experience will help me understand our passengers even better on my next flight.