I can’t say that I travel all that much. Not as much as I’d like. I do spend quite a lot of time on airplanes, nonetheless, what with me living in Ireland and most of my family still residing in Finland. Flying to Finland, for me, doesn’t count as travelling, although I am glad the people responsible for calculating frequent flyer miles don’t see it that way. After 6 years of permanent residence in Ireland, hopping over to Finland is much like driving over to the local shop for milk. Only more expensive and time-consuming.
I have one question for the airlines, all of them; why oh why do you not screen people’s personal hygiene?! I mean, you check our passports, boarding passes, suitcases, hand luggage, pockets, belts, shoes and hats. You check whether or not we are in possession of an appropriate bag to contain all our liquids and pastes (clear, re-sealable plastic bag no larger than 1 litre in volume, FYI) and on occasion rummage through our hand luggage just in case we have decided to smuggle something very small in between the pages of our Times Sudoku book. More recently you scan under our clothes, too. You can see our bits just in case I am trying to sneak some state secrets out of the country between my butt cheeks. And trust me, my butt cheeks would be capable of housing state secrets of most of the continental European countries, I’ve got room.
I fully understand all these checks are necessary in the current climate, and that having to strip off, empty our bags and make do without lip gloss at hand is a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things, especially as the alternative could well be having you body parts scattered over several square kilometres of woodland area, state secrets, lip gloss and all. But surely a little sniff test amongst all this would be quite easy to arrange? I cannot tell you how many times I have suffered, sitting uncomfortably close to someone who had forgotten to shower before boarding. And a couple of days before that, actually. I remember one particularly painful flight from Dublin to Riga, sitting at my window seat (I always sit at the window as I mostly sleep on the plane and do not want to be bothered by people with tiny bladders) having to endure a couple, who clearly hadn’t showered and were also very excited about flying. They kept their thick winter coats on for the entire flight, sealing in the stench, only to release it every now and then by lifting an arm, or worse yet, to lean over me to look out the window!
I’m sure they were a lovely couple. They certainly seemed friendly enough when telling me in broken English how they’d been over to Dublin to visit their daughter who lived there. Whilst they were telling me this, I was busy holding my breath because they had not only forgotten to shower, but their teeth would have made the most seasoned of dental hygienists recoil in horror and seriously reconsider their career options. I shudder as I’m writing this.
Another time a man sat in front of me had such strong body odour, that every time he lifted his arms to adjust the air vent or switch his overhead light on or off, it made my eyes water.
A woman sitting beside me kept scratching her greasy hair for the entire flight, making it snow dandruff on my sleeve. Emerging from the plane I had to explain to Mr S why I looked like I had just walked sideways in a blizzard.
Maybe the metal detector gate we all must walk through could somehow incorporate a decontaminating shower? I’m sure that would help reduce the amount of airborne diseases being spread on flights, too. Think about it. Seriously. It would make life (and travel) so much more bearable. Or, alternatively, the passengers deemed nice-smelling and hygienic enough, would get an upgrade to business class. That would most certainly encourage people to shower. I’m writing a memo right now. Not to Ryanair, though. He’d only charge you.