Fear of Flying (Alone)

Flying Solo

Flying on your own is a strange experience to say the least. Upon arriving at the airport, I felt desperate to find a friend (anyone?) to guide me through the process. Imagining scenarios where I’d meet friends from home at the airport, who just happened to be flying on their own too, I made my way through security and found myself ambling round the departure lounge on my own.

I looked at other travellers with wistfulness; I wished I could engage in the excited holiday banter. However, alone, I was subjected to some serious people-watching, envying the groups piling through the gates: the over-zealous families in tow with their ‘trunkies’; packs of gelled young men donning neon ‘Magaluf’ vest-tops; even a Jamaican gospel group spreading their joy through song at every waiting area (no kidding). Yet, on my own, I didn’t fit into the organised excitement.

There are many disadvantages to friend-less travelling, the first one being you lose your eyes and ears. Completely oblivious, I wandered through the Dior (reinventing myself as a rich first-class passenger) counters at Duty Free and was stopped by a woman who worked at a nearby stall. As she placed her hands on my shoulders, I panicked in thinking I was acting suspiciously and was soon to be whisked away by airport security.

However, it appeared my lonely adventure had left me deluded. Instead, I was informed by the woman who’d grabbed me that my dress was conveniently tucked into my underwear and that she was going to relieve me of my embarrassing situation by pulling it down. At that moment, I think I would rather have been dragged out by security, for that would definitely have been less embarrassing.

However, after the mortifying ramifications of travelling alone, come the benefits. For one thing, you are free to purchase any trashy magazine you like, without risk of being judged. Not even by the polished, well-spoken mother I was sat next to on my flight.  However, whilst flicking through OK’s extensive royal baby coverage (the baby’s toys are to include a cuddly tiger and elephant, in case you didn’t know), I realised that said mummy was the guiding friend I had been looking for from the beginning.

Whilst her six-year old son provided an amusing commentary of the flight (‘mummy, why does the plane have wings?’), she asked me questions about my upcoming trip, and gave me plenty of anecdotes about her single-girl travels that alleviated my fear of being alone, and made me feel we had a connection.  Considering I was apprehensive about who- and what- was going to meet me at the other end of the flight, it was a much needed boost and even though I doubt we will ever meet again, I will always remember her and wonder what became of her family holiday.

Family is a confusing concept at airports. Whilst the woman on board almost embraced me in hers, others were having issues of their own, including one couple I glided past who were arguing about which one forgot to pack the sun lotion. These people, I can guarantee I wouldn’t have met on a family holiday. Being on your own forces you to talk to strangers and although as children, we are encouraged not to, it really seems to make the trip more enjoyable.

So, I would like to say to any future lone passengers: you will be ok. You may not have your friends and you may risk losing your dignity, but there will always be people out there to help you. To the kind woman at the Yves Saint Laurent counter, and to the mother of Dominic, thank you.

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