Tag Archives: Alicante

How I conquered my fear of flying – Funda-mental facts

24 Jul

I used to be so petrified of flying that I’d lock myself away in the airport loo half an hour before boarding and demolish a quarter bottle of neat Fundador.
Then I’d happily jet off to my destination full of carefree spirit, knowing that if the bottom fell out of the plane at 38,000 feet, I could ferry passengers and crew across the sky to safety using my own 40 per cent proof alcohol tank.
Even in those days, I was awafundadorre that flying was much safer than driving. So, indeed, are the masses of nervous people today who are so scared of air travel that they think a Ryanair loo and a hot flush are the same thing.
So why did I ever get into a flap over what is statistically the safest form of travel on earth (or a few thousand feet above it to be accurate)?
Global airline safety reports confirm there were a total of 90 commercial aeroplane accidents in 2013, just nine of which involved fatalities .
The 173 people killed on those doomed trips may seem a lot but when you look at the figures in the context of 32 million flights worldwide, the overall statistic of one accident per 300,000 flights and one fatality every three million trips proves conclusively that there is no safer form of transport.
If you are set on meeting St Peter at the Pearly Gates ASAP, then I can reveal that making the trip on two wheels is by far the best bet.
Yes, the riskiest way to travel anywhere is on a motorbike. Mile-for-mile, motorcycling is statistically 3,000 times more deadly than flying – and you are 100 times more likely to die travelling to Spain on four wheels than on a UK charter flight to or from the Costas.
Feel free to double the car-death figure if you include the loony Spanish fly boys who have brought a new skill to the art of driving. It’s called airborne overtaking and it’s soaring in popularity on my local autoroute.
I was approaching my fifties (in age, that is, not maximum driving speed) when I finally came to terms with the fear-of-flying nonsense. During a rare moment of airborne sobriety, my pickled brain came realised that Fundador-mentalism at ground level was much more likely to kill me than an extinct bird trying to board Ryanair ‘s smallest aircraft.
So when I now squeeze myself into one of Michael O’Leary’s tiny 3,000-seaters, I am reasonably relaxed, albeit still with the ability to panic whenever turbulence is around. Admit it, you laid-back veterans of sky travel – don’t you cast a quick look at the cabin crew’s faces whenever the engine sound changes or if the fasten seat-belt signs suddenly lights up?
I’m sure the aircraft staff are trained to remain calm at all times. But I defy them to keep a straight face if and when a desperate dodo sticks its beak into the starboard wing and the engine catches fire.
For all that, it’s great to be smugly dismissive of the occasional flyers who break into a round of applause when their holiday flight touches down. What’s coming next – a windbound for the driver?
For me, the most sobering thought is that my daughter and her other half run a major training centre for motorcycle riders in Manchester.
I need a drink. Anyone seen my hip flask?
PS. A thought on the new menace of terrorism in the air. In the wake of the 9/11 horror, airline passenger miles in the United States fell between 12% and 20% while road travel rocketed. By the time the panic ended and sky travel returned to normal, academics estimated that 1,595 extra lives had been lost. I never could figure out the Americans.

Spain’s Costa-cutters shame Britain’s airport rip-off boys

30 Mar

Car-park charges in the UK are enough to drive any motorist insane – and the rip-off boys are getting greedier and greedier. Particularly those who have a captive audience.

Like airports.

I returned to Spain from Manchester on Sunday knowing I’d be flying into Alicante’s new state-of-the-art terminal, an amazing edifice which cost the cash-strapped Spanish well over £500 million.

The Madrid government invested 628.67 million euros in expansion works which will double the airport’s capacity and cater for up to 20 million passengers per year.

When my daughter Lisa met me on my arrival in Manchester three weeks earlier, it cost her no less than £12 for an enforced two-hour stay in the Terminal One car-park (well, I paid it actually – that’s what parents are for).

And while Lisa might have got away with the £2.20 minimum charge had she
parked up to see me off on my return to the Costa Blanca, she’d inevitably have got carried away with emotion, hugged me for an hour, and forked out another £8 for the privilege.

So she just dropped me off and vamoosed, leaving me to find that my flight was being delayed for well over an hour for technical reasons.

We eventually arrived at Alicante half an hour late and by the time we got back to my friend Valerie’s car, it had been parked in the airport’s new 2,700-space multi-storey facility for an hour and a half.

At Manchester prices, that would have meant another £8 – to pick up a passenger who had already paid a fistful in airport taxes as part of her air fare.

In the event, Val’s 1 hour 38 minute stay cost me 2 euros and 95 cents.
That’s less than one-third of Manchester’s rip-off tariff – at an airport which must be desperate to recoup their massive investment as quickly as possible.

Exactly the same charge, based on a minute-by-minute reading which equates to just 70 centimos for half an hour, is levied at other major Spanish airports, including Madrid’s main Barajas facility, Malaga and Barcelona.

New Alicante terminal

The new terminal at Alicante: It can cater for 20 million passengers a year

How refreshing that a nation in desperate financial straits should put the passenger before profit, unlike the greedy ” fleece ’em for as much as we can” attitude in the UK.

When my sister flew in to Manchester from her home in the Middle East recently, fellow passengers on the delayed Jet2.com flight consoled her by insisting the plane was ALWAYS late in order to ensure that family and friends had to park up for at least an hour and incur that obligatory £8 fee.

I’m told that Stansted charge similar prices to Manchester, whilst
Heathrow’s initial £2.50 charge goes up to £4.30 after just half an hour (or at least it used to, though it may well have increased since those figures were reported).

Perhaps that’s why Spain is in a worse economic pickle than Britain…the Zapatero government prefer to remain needy rather than labelled as greedy.

So carry on with the overcharging, Britain. Enjoy squeezing the public to the pip.

I’ll continue to chill out on the cheap here on the Costa Lot-less.