Flying is bad for mind, body and planet. So why do we go through this miserable ritual every summer?

Think moving house is the most stressful thing you can do? Try moving through Heathrow in the middle of the great getaway

Janet Street-Porter
Saturday 20 July 2019 02:26
Heathrow Airport could be 'shut down' over summer due to strikes

Moving house is said to be one of the most stressful experiences, worse than getting divorced or starting a new job. This week, I attempted to exchange contracts on one home and buy another, and I was reduced to a quivering wreck in the process. But for sheer unpleasantness, a devastating assault on all our senses, nothing compares to air travel.

Forget the “joy of travel” – anything that involves an airport will be the complete opposite. For “joy”, read “misery”. And yet, lemming-like, we continue to succumb.

This weekend, millions of holidaymakers will submit to that exercise in ritual humiliation and physical deprivation that is known as “catching a flight”. On Thursday, the scene at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 was all too familiar, as problems with the British Airways check-in system resulted in queues of up to two hours and hundreds of passengers were forced to take off without their luggage.

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