Some happy-go-lucky holidaymakers boarding via the rear door Diario Noticias AMSC for Flickr

It’s Easter term and I’m staring at my lecture notes trying to decipher what I meant by “the Revolution ate.” My motivation’s dwindling – “my DoS said it was basically impossible to get a Third” – I need a holiday. Barclays Online Banking laughs in my face. But then a glimmer of hope: a Ryanair ad flashes, “Flights to Spain from £20!” If I skip the Pret lattes and cut out my nightly trip to Mainsbury’s for “something sweet”, I could make this work.

One month later, it’s 4am and I curse the fact that the girls’ trip has made it out of the group chat. The girl that booked a 7am flight was a different person, she was an optimist: “I’ll sleep on the plane!” But when had she ever slept on a plane? After double-checking my passport is mine and not my dad’s (hard to tell; 2015 was not my year) I glance in the mirror – big mistake. My eyebags exceed Ryanair luggage limits. I solemnly wave goodbye to the prospect of being somebody’s mysterious airport crush.

Two stomach-lurching hours later, the taxi pulls into Stansted. Luggage to check in? No sir, I’m gonna be living in bikinis all week. I’m a little concerned by the flurry of storm warnings on my weather app but heck, bikinis are waterproof, my spirits won’t be dampened!

However, limits are tested at security, where we are made to squeeze our liquids into Lilliputian plastic bags. Tough decisions must be made. Sunscreen or Frizz-Ease; wrinkles or bad hair? Bye-bye, Nivea. I stare at the lone lip balm that hasn’t made it, and toy with the idea of shoving it up my bum. Maybe they’re right to assume we’re all smugglers.

“Ryanair sure knows how to make a girl feel appreciated”

One intimate pat-down later, we’re through. To wait. I join the other travel dads squinting at the board, hands on hips, stance wide. Gate 58 is of course on the other side of the airport. I ride miles on travelators (a highlight), scale thousands of stairs, pass fifty bathrooms and a hundred crusty vending machines. Then finally we join the back of the “non-priority” queue – Ryanair sure knows how to make a girl feel appreciated – does “non-priority” extend to who gets first dibs on the oxygen masks?

As I approach the bag-check, I find I have been betrayed. My “Viral Ryanair Underseat Bag” won’t fit. I rifle through my worldly possessions, tug out the jumper my mum told me to pack “just in case” and pull it over the other five layers I’m wearing. I stride through the door, vindicated and sweating. The Michelin Man will take to the skies!

When I take my seat, I am sandwiched between two man-spreaders. One immediately falls into a snoring, drooling slumber while the other cracks open a can of sour cream and onion Pringles. The scent marries perfectly with his reeking BO. I fight to keep my Pret porridge down.


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Onto the synchronised safety routine. I take my earphones out, cackle at the flight attendant’s jokes and turn exaggeratedly to look at the nearest emergency exit, just so they know I’m paying attention. Teacher’s pet? Maybe. But if this plane goes down, who are the cabin crew gonna be putting on that slide first? Nepotism, baby, nepotism.

I distract myself from being trapped in a metal tube at 35,000 feet by perusing the in-flight menu. A ham and cheese toastie? My stomach growls in agreement. But it’s a fiver for a bottle of water, so I think I’ll pass. My neighbour, having polished off his sour cream and onion Pringles, sadistically relishes his sandwich. Judging by the arm-rest situation, he’s not one for sharing.

Four neck-cracking hours later, we begin our descent. As we hurtle towards the ground, buffeted by the clouds, the lady across the aisle shakily repeats the Lord’s Prayer. I consider joining her but amidst the stomach-dropping plummet, I can’t remember what comes after the “bread” line. Damn my year 6-self for not listening in assembly.

Then bam, we hit terra firma to the sound of trumpets. The applause of my fellow passengers sends goosebumps down my spine, making me feel oddly patriotic. I rally my row-mates, suggesting we all get matching “Low fares, made simple” tattoos. They respond with mute, sarcastic smiles. The landing wasn’t seamless; I question whether our pilot joined the lads in Spoons before taking to the skies, but we’ve made it.

“The applause of my fellow passengers sends goosebumps down my spine”

I give my Easter-self a pat on the back for her economic savviness, blissfully unaware of the scamming taxi drivers, surprise City tax, and €40 club tickets to come. I don’t think the coffee and sweet treat sacrifices are gonna cover it.