Flying back from the US yesterday, Tim and I had window seats one row behind the other (by choice, long story). I’m a nervous flyer and this was the first time I haven’t had him right next to me so as we boarded I started to get more tense. Tim suggested we find a way to message each other during the flight and quickly found Air Chat which we both downloaded. It provides encrypted bluetooth messaging.
We paired our phones and that was it, we were able to chat the entire flight (Airplane mode does not require BT being disabled). I’m not sure how far it would reach in a cabin, we were a row apart and it’s obviously limited by BT distance. Useful I would have thought for families or groups travelling together.
Best of all they have a watch app so when my phone was turned off and he messaged me it would vibrate on my wrist and I could read it. I couldn’t reply from the watch but we probably talked more during this flight than we do sitting next to each other.
At Malpensa (Milan) airport and heading home for a few days I really notice the Italian difference. You see although I travel a lot, about 70% is to the US and the rest to Europe but much of that’s driving. I haven’t been to Italy in 3 years since I visited Rome but I remember travelling with only hand baggage and being frustrated I couldn’t buy some perfume in Capri because I’d have to check a bag to get it home. However when we flew back from Rome no-one cared about liquids, laptops, shoes or anything else.
Fast forward to this trip and Tim and I were lucky to get tickets to the Verona Arena which seats 15k people to see Aida. It was only when we were sat in our seats I realised, for the first time in my recent memory going to an event did not involve high security and a bag search – just people checking our tickets and that we were going where we were meant to.
So here we are at Malpensa. Turning up at 3pm for a 7pm flight to find no-one on check in until 5pm and then through fast track security where the first boarding pass check was unmanned and the scanner took my case and bag with liquids, laptops, phones and everything. Not even a shoe check.
What’s my point? I found myself relaxing into it and letting go of the control and the fear that has come to mean travelling through airports for me. Did I feel less safe in the arena knowing no-one had been checked for “dangerous substances” ? No.
The Italians aren’t living in constant fear and maybe we shouldn’t be either.