A principle to keep
I always wish I have nothing to complain about when I am travelling. I appreciate the fact that my standards for travel can be exacting, this is because if leaving my home will not be more comfortable than my being at home, I have no business leaving home.
Once people understand that basic requirement, it is the end of all disputes. Now, my journey to Johannesburg is as circuitous as you can get travelling from Manchester.
Manchester is hardly a hub, and whilst budget airlines and charter flights can do point-to-point connections, if you are to travel by scheduled commercial flights, you will probably have to transit through London Heathrow if you are flying the Oneworld fleet that includes British Airways, through Frankfurt on the Star Alliance fleet which includes Lufthansa or either Paris or Amsterdam for the SkyTeam fleet which includes AirFrance or KLM.
My preference is for the SkyTeam because I have a longstanding loyalty scheme with them having lived in the Netherlands and really compared to other fleets, they appear to be much more affordable.
Besides, I believe in loyalty schemes for travel purposes, sticking with SkyTeam meant I had enough miles to fly to India in 2011 and when it comes to hotels, I now use Hotels.com for all my accommodation needs. In the past two years, I have had 5 free nights in various hotels, just keeping with one scheme rather than shopping around for cheap deals and consequently building no custom that could be nicely rewarded.
Stripped of my dignified appearance
However, on getting to Amsterdam after the first leg of my three-leg trip to Johannesburg, the transfer to my Amsterdam–Paris leg required going through passport control and security checks again.
I emptied my pockets, took off my watch, laid out my laptops and took my jacket and hat off, as we all do with the music-less striptease that has become the standard airport passenger routine.
That indignity is hard enough until the security personnel asked that I also take off my cravat. Take of my cravat? Well, the uncultured Philistine called it a scarf. It made me wonder if they were also required to take off their ties when navigating security.
In my 20 or so years of passing through Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, I have never ever been as publicly denuded as I did experience this evening, I was beyond exasperated in disbelief.
I will not want to go into the mind of whoever or whatever informed this new security requirement. I obliged, throwing up my hands in perplexity and collected my things after they had been scanned.
I retired to the lounge licking my wounds, the thought that sanctity of high culture could be so contemned is a reflection of the world we now live in.
There is another 15 hours of travel to go.