That snobbery particular to, like, children

Tue, Oct 16, 2012, 01:00

A DAD'S LIFE:Flying Cork to Rome, there is only one option, writes ADAM BROPHY

THE YOUNGER child is a discerning traveller, worryingly so. I don’t think I had opinions on air carriers at seven.

“I love Aer Lingus,” she says. She’s flicking at the tray table in front of her, rubbing the seat arm, playing with the seat belt. “But I don’t like them,” she says, pointing out the window at the rivals, her face screwed up. “They’re just not as nice.”

“Yeah,” chimes in her sister, “I like green. It’s like, I dunno, a bit more relaxing.”

Everything is “like” something these days; nothing is just itself, that would not be enough. I have pointed out this verbal tic to her and her 10-year-old cronies and asked them to continue a like-strewn discussion in front of me without using the offending word. They ground to a halt. Completely. A sentence could not be completed by any of the four. It was, like, a total verbal roadblock.

Anyway, back to our national carrier and the opinions of minors.

As we now have an expanding family in Rome, travel to Italy has become a regular occurrence, and the juniors in our brigade have become connoisseurs of airport and airline etiquette. They have the snobbery imbued in the traveller who chooses one option over another, despite having no option in the first place and despite, crucially, having no involvement in the payment either. The snobbery that is particular to children.

You know the type. A kid turns up in your house full of opinions. She thinks Enda Kenny is a troll, even does the accent and calls him “Inda”. She has carefully constructed thoughts on immigrants and welfare beneficiaries. She withers you when you stick beans on her toast and call it dinner. Your children are the window to your own dinner table. They move through life providing a portal into your own house and your own head.

And for some reason they never repeat the lines that make you heroic or even charitable; the ones they see fit to come out with when in other people’s company are the ones that would make Nick Griffin and Neil Kinnock blush at the same time.

In my house, it could be called the Ryanair effect. I’ll make no bones about it: I hate flying with them. But who doesn’t? And I’ve heard all the pro-O’Leary philosophy blather. I know that in essence air travel is now a fraction of the price it used be. I know Ryanair can carry you for so low a rate because it does its best to sell you additional products and services at the same time as you buy your flight and at the same time as you fly. I know it is my responsibility to follow the system that it has put in place if I wish to avail of its low, low prices.

But I resent it all. I resent the purchase of a service having to be a battle of wits. If a flight is advertised for a tenner, I want it for a tenner. I would be amazed if that were viable, but if not, please advertise it at its real price and don’t try to sneak in insurance when I’ve already unticked the box three times and then charge me an online booking fee when there’s no other way to buy the ticket. Just make the transaction clear and honest. Make the journey at least humane. But no. It’s a miserable process after which you feel like you’ve been shower assaulted in Mountjoy.

For that reason I have an equation. If I can afford it, I’ll go up to 20 per cent higher with an alternative carrier on the same route. It’s a policy and a philosophy borne of many years suffering on Ryanair flights for the sake of a few – not that many – saved quid.

The kids know this. They hear me sigh with relief every time we board a plane with a nonhallucinatory interior decor. They mimic my thoughts. They don’t get them right.

They sit, I’m sure, at other people’s tables and insist that they will only fly Aer Lingus. They make it sound as if we fly public only when the private jet is being serviced. When last we landed in Rome, the elder piped up that next time she’d like to try Delta. I pushed down the aisle, leaving her behind for someone else to claim. Morto.

They get the gist of things but not quite the rationale. And when the rationale is as emotionally driven as it is rational, they always make a mockery of you. That portal into your private world needs at all times to be censored.

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