Getting back to the golden age of air travel

Kelly O’Brien did what one should do at the airport departure lounge in Dublin airport ... she lounged about the place.

When we think about airports, we think baggage restrictions, metal detectors and never-ending queues. We remember early morning buses, frizzy hair and tired eyes.

In this ever-shrinking world of online check-in and passport control, we’ve lost sight of what a holiday was always supposed to be — a time for rest, for relaxation, a chance to get away from the stresses of everyday life.

Nowadays, aided by flight prices decreasing even faster than the allocated leg room, the novelty of air travel has long since worn off. It has become the norm to show up at the airport less than an hour before your flight, rushing through security and claiming your place in the line at the gate.

On board, where once we sat enthralled by the cabin crew’s safety demonstration, now nobody even bothers to look up from their smartphones, determined to get in one last Twitter or Facebook update before the dreaded flight mode has to be enabled.

Admittedly one of the worst offenders, I decided it was time for a change. Determined to get back to the glamorous Mad Men era of flying, where everyone was starry-eyed with wonder over the luxury of 30,000 feet, I utilised my upcoming trip to Amsterdam to reclaim some of the magic.

Since my departure time was fairly early, I booked into the Hilton at Dublin airport. Being based in Cork, it was either this or stay up all night and get the bus at 3am. Normally I wouldn’t have a problem with this — it’s doable, it’s cheaper — but I said no, this is about getting back to the golden age of air travel, and I’m damn well going to make the most of it.

As it was the day before my flight, it didn’t matter what time I got there. I arrived at the hotel some time in the afternoon, completely at ease.

After a night spent channel-hopping in my dressing gown and fluffy slippers, I was nice and relaxed the next morning for my free shuttle bus to the airport. Ten minutes later I was casually rolling into the departures lounge, ready to experience some pre-flight pampering.

First stop — Clarins. It’s a travesty that more people don’t know this, but you can actually get a facial in the airport before you fly. It’s free once you purchase three Clarins products.

After this, head over to Mac, Bobbi Brown or Benefit and one of their staff will do your make-up — also free! Pre-booking is advised for both facials and make-up appointments but not essential.

The jewel in the crown is at Joe Malone’s whose staff, also free of charge, will give you a hand and arm massage, leaving you relaxed, tingly, and pleasantly scented for the day ahead.

Once I was sufficiently buffed, polished and pampered, I’m not ashamed to say I tucked into a super fattening fry-up and indulged in a champagne breakfast. In my defence, I did tell you I was going to make the most of it.

After that, time to hit the shops. The Loop is the name of airport shopping in Dublin and Cork and they have an ever-extending range of outlets — there’s a list online if you want to check beforehand.

Usually I’m not one for airport shopping, preferring to breeze through duty free, picking up some magazines and a bottle of water along the way. But as I kept reminding myself, this time was different. This time I was going to experience all the airport had to offer.

So I perused the perfumes, cosmetics and confectionary discovering there’s at least 20% off everything when compared to high street prices, no matter where you’re flying, and sometimes 40% off big brands like Lancome and Estee Lauder.

Needless to say I picked up a few things, I even used the Click and Collect service. This lets you buy products and leave them at the airport for when you come back into the country. If you’re stuck for time, you can shop online before you get to the airport — then collect the purchases before your outbound flight or after your return.

Having tried and tested this — sure wouldn’t I look well carting everything through the streets of Amsterdam — I can confirm it’s pretty fool proof.

Everything I had bought were ready and waiting for me when I got back, as promised. You genuinely can’t miss the collection desk either, you pass it on your way out.

Looking back, taking the time to do it right, to make the most of everything before I had even left the country, really worked.It was genuinely one of the most relaxing and hassle free holidays I think I’ve ever had.

I learned that travel doesn’t have to be a stressful ordeal, that by making the most of the airport you’re actually extending your holiday by more than a day!

And anything that can do that is alright in my book.

I was in the departures lounge, ready to experience some pre-flight pampering

Determined to get back to the ‘Mad Men’ era of flying... I utilised my trip to reclaim some of the magic.


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