Commentary: The nightmare that is today’s air travel

LONDON: Air travel is the only form of transport to have gone backwards over the past 20 years.

Trains now go faster. Buses pollute less. Cars are smarter, and electric. So are bicycles, ferries and lorries.

Flying, on the other hand, is considerably more horrible than it used to be. Years after a British terrorist failed to set off a bomb in his shoes on a 2001 flight from Paris to Miami, flyers still face maddening rules on liquids as they are squeezed into smaller seats and charged for sandwiches they once got for free.

Flying might be cheaper and safer, but it is also slower than it was in 2003, when Concorde took its last flight across the Atlantic – in roughly half the time it takes today. Airlines promised supersonic flight would come back. It has not.

I stood in a long queue at a small Spanish airport last week, where I saw something I had never seen in more than 30 years of flying.

The line was full of people boarding two flights to London, one to Gatwick, which I was on, and one to Stansted, both due to leave at about 11am.

We were queuing to get our passports stamped, as one does post-Brexit, just a few metres from exit doors beyond which waiting planes were clearly visible.