The airline industry has come a long way since the first time I boarded a plane. Growing up, our family travelled a lot. My dad was in the British army and we moved on average every three years. When I was six we sailed to Cyprus on a ship.
The weather was always great, we lived one hundred yards from the beach, school started at 7am and finished at 12. Most days my mother would pack lunch and we would head down to the beach for a couple of hours. Life was good for three years.
And then civil unrest broke out between the Greeks and the Turks. I remember seeing shepherds guarding their sheep in the fields. They were kitted out with long rifles and ammo bandoliers. My sister and I couldn’t figure out why our parents were so worried all the time.
This went on for about six months and then one night, there was a huge commotion downstairs. Soldiers were all over the place. My dad seemed to be ordering everyone around, and my mum was bawling her eyes out.
We were gotten out of our beds and told we could bring one thing. Still wearing our p.j.’s, we were bundled into the back of an army transport truck–along with a whole pile of other families–and driven at breakneck speed to the nearest airforce airfield.
Once there, we were all hustled onto a troop carrier plane. Still clutching our teddy bears, we found a place to sit and waited for take off. We were so excited even though my mum was still crying, probably because she knew my dad had to stay behind and who knew when he was going to come home. But us girls, we thought this was just the bees knees. . . Running wild with all the other kids in the middle of the plane. High adventure indeed.
A couple of hours later we landed in England., with nothing but two teddy bears to declare at customs!! Someone picked us up and we went to live with my gramma for a year because that’s how long it took for my dad to come home. (But that’s another story.)
As an adult i now realize why this was so dramatic for my mother. A quote from the above link states:
In the wake of the fighting the US is planning to evacuate its citizens from Cyprus to Beirut.
However, Britain is advising about 2,000 families of service personnel in Limassol to stay put apart from those living near the Turkish quarter.
The very next day, the powers that be changed their minds and we were evacuated on one of the very same planes that brought the troops over.I don’t know what blows my mind more. The fact that I remembered this accurately fifty years later, or that technology made it possible for me to easily research this from the comfort of my own living room. Nowadays we always fly Southwest Airlines where you have a nice individual padded seat with a belt. TV monitors on the seat in front of you. You can listen to music or watch a movie. Food and drinks are served. The air hostess is just a pushbutton call away to cater to your every whim.
Times sure have changed.