Peter York on Ads

Fasten your seatbelt - this brand is in for a bumpy ride

We're all a bit despondent about flying. There are so many reasons to be uncheerful that if you're like that anyway, the fun's evaporating by the minute. It doesn't apply, of course, to happy single twenty-somethings piling on to easyJet or Ryanair as a gang, tanked-up for a wedding in Ireland or a stag night in Prague - that's what they do now. But if you're a grown-up worrier you can fret about the epic check-in times and the security fuss. Am I carrying anything remotely sharp or combustible?

But for any responsible wonk, every single air yard is costing the earth, killing polar bears and putting Glyndebourne under six feet of water. And anyone supposed to set an example gets asked about their carbon footprint now. They have to pretend they only fly when it's a national emergency.

Poor David Cameron will have to spend that quality time on Jura for ever, when you know he really wants to stay with those nice people outside Cannes or with those Golden Greeks. And should Gordon and Sarah really be going to Martha's Vineyard when they could be back at the manse?

Then there's the question of Airfalldown. One used to worry about this mainly in Africa, the former Soviet Union or anywhere they couldn't afford maintenance and co-pilots. The hard fact was that planes from those places fell down a lot more, for predictable reasons.

But now the whole falling down thing has reversed, or at least the anxiety has. It's us they're targeting in the well-run carriers from the couth countries, with the internet bombs made from two blobs of moisturiser and some contact lens solution. That's what they were saying back in August, anyway. And those lead times, the huge queues and the unpredictable security run (shoes off now, watch where you're putting your hands...), just ramps it up. It's so bad for business, they must mean it.

And then there's just massive modern blasétude. Once unsophisticated Brits were secretly excited to be going on a plane to anywhere: Manchester, Glasgow, anywhere. And we made a longwinded thing of it. The shortest flights had greetings and goodbyes, tiny meals and constant coffee. But in big countries - America and Australia - internal flights were such a necessary basic people took them like buses. Chance it with Ansett: my first experience of getting around Australia was shockingly deritualised for a European.

I still can't see air travel as remotely ordinary, like my sophisticated friends do. (I imagine investment bankers saying to themselves that if it's Tuesday it must be Belgium and they're going there to buy it.)

I still adore the palaver of planes; the gentility of airline language; the cabin crew and their fascinating grooming and body language (I went on Singapore Airlines for the first time this month and it's all true about the girls); the ingenious miniaturisation of lavs and meals.

I love airline food; it's much more entertaining than a halfway decent meal in a halfway decent terrestrial restaurant. But I know this sounds dangerously retro compared to the cost equation of the no-frills airlines with their nasty profit-centre coffee and dry sandwiches.

And European middle-class youth has the New World attitude to flying now - it's basic, it's part of the Nike and North Face gap-year world; it's like being a digital native. That's why people don't write Romance of Air travel songs like "Leaving on a Jet Plane" (John Denver, 1967) any more.

It's the music track on the new BA commercial. It's a campaign which doesn't seem sure what buttons to press, presumably because they don't know what their brand means in a changing world.

It's clearly shy of the 1980s BA approach - the spectaculars with opera tracks, the Superwoman stewardesses (even the language has changed), the Thatcherite reassurances and the chauvinist sign-off,"the world's favourite airline".

Instead there's the reminder of thousands of fares from £29 and a sort of Customer's Charter checklist about what customers - "our guests" - should expect, such as online check-in, and choosing where to sit.

It's all terribly low-key, with a mimsy little cameo of a female cabin crew type putting an unaccompanied nine-year-old black boy in his seat. And there are dolphins - a sort of half-hearted dolphin theme, with now-you-see-them fluffy dolphin-shaped clouds plunging around. This is a campaign that's taken every care in the world into account, and that's why it isn't going anywhere.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Brand Marketing Manager - Essex - £45,000 + £5000 car allowance

£40000 - £45000 per annum + car allowance: Ashdown Group: Senior Brand Manager...

Guru Careers: .NET Developer /.NET Software Developer

£26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a .NET Developer /.NET Software ...

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing Exec (SEO / PPC)

£18 - 24k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing...

Guru Careers: Technical Operations Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Technical Ope...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all