San Francisco, California

Air travel these days feels more and more like incarceration. The admissions procedure involves confiscation of potentially lethal weapons like toothpaste, hand cream, and bottles of water. Shoes and outerwear have to be removed.

Pompous officials bark terse orders: ‘Go to the agriculture checkpoint’, ‘Go to the x-ray machine’, ‘Stand over there and wait your turn’. They gratuitously send inmates (sorry, I mean, passengers) though a maze of barriers, backwards and forwards and backwards and forwards, even when there are only 3 people ahead in the queue.

It must be very entertaining for them to see us all submit meekly to their demands.

Then we are herded onto a plane, to sit in cramped conditions that I wouldn’t wish on an animal. We are fed low-grade, high-fat food – high in fat because of the sedative effect it has on the body and mind.

We eat with plastic cutlery, in case we take it into our heads to try and stab someone to death with a teaspoon. We are forced to breathe recycled air of low oxygen content ??” a further sedative. And we all sit there, humble and compliant, dully watching movies carefully selected not to rouse us to riot.

Eventually (‘Do not unfasten your seatbelt until the captain has turned off the Fasten Seatbelt signs’) we are released from captivity.

Air travel used to be exciting, even glamorous. Now it is a drudge. Rowing across oceans may be slow and unpleasant. But it’s starting to seem increasingly attractive. At least you get to preserve your dignity.

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