As the Olympic athletes fly home by the tens of thousands, I could’nt help wondering what kind of stress they were subjected to.. Anyway, the official seven leading causes of stress, according to a University of Washington study are finances, work, family, personal concerns, personal health & safety, relationships and death. I’m going to take it they left out flying.. because they forgot to ask anyone who’s taken a trip by air. Many will agree that taking a flight is one of the major causes of stress in modern everyday living.
The amount of stress involved in flying starts way before the actual flight, right on the ground itself. First and foremost, the long trip to the airport itself is fraught with stresses, from lack of timely taxis to traffic jams to making sure the kids are ready on time. Even if you decide to take to take to the road yourself, there’s the outrageous airport parking charges and the distance they are located from the terminal..
Having reached the terminal, there’s the queues, the far-from-easy electronic check-in terminals and the extra charges, ranging from that for overweight baggage to really unexpected surprises – Ryan Air insists you print your own boarding cards and if you misplace yours, they’ll print it for you..for a fee, 40 British pounds to be precise.
Then there’s the security screening..more stresses if you have shoes with bootlaces or laptops. By the way, the liquids ban mean you need clear plastic bags which are now sold at 1 pound each at some UK airports. Departure delays..these are a way of life nowadays with airlines cutting back on flights due to bad times.
Once in the air, your problems are about to begin. If you turn left on entering the aircraft, well and good; but if you turn right, be prepared for cramped seating conditions (noticed the shrinking leg-room, especially on low-cost carriers?). If you can stomach the low-quality food, this may not stay down too long if the plane hits into turbulence – this has been cited as the top cause of stress while flying.
Once settled down, your mind may be jarred by a seemingly endless stream of in-flight announcements, in multiple languages, informing that you are 35,000 ft in the air (who really cares?). Add to this, the snoring passengers and crying babies and the soon-to-be-allowed mobile phone-calls and one can see why there’s so much stress.
Don’t forget polluted cabin air..a recent report in the London Telegraph confirms that the smell of jet-fuel in some cabins is far from imaginary.
Once landed at your destination and after surviving the long queues at Immigration, you might have to face the heart-sinking sensation of lost luggage (God forbid!) and the monumental paperwork that comes with it. And you thought London Oxford Airport would be at least near London.. be prepared for a 60-mile journey to the city!
And..long after reaching your final destination, there’s still the perennial fight with jet-lag! Numerous antidotes have been promulgated – but that’s another story..
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