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Saturday, December 8, 2007

Up up and away: junior jetsetters and the formation of air travel fascination

"Up up and away, with TAA, the friendly, friendly waaaaaay". That was the jingle for long gone Australian airline TAA. My precocious little sister Felicia, aged three, upon seeing the airline logo on the side of the plane, once sang the song at the top of her lungs from the top of the stairs as we boarded a TAA flight in Sydney. We were flying alone and the name cards the air ‘hostess’ had pinned to our chests identified us as junior jetsetters. While the adult passengers and airline staff around us giggled at my cute sister's capricious song, I, taking my jetsetter status a little too seriously for an eleven year old, was terribly embarrassed at the time. Now that moment is one of my fondest childhood travelling memories. My love of air travel, airlines, airplanes and airports was also cemented on that trip.

Although I love everything and anything to do with flying, as I declared in yesterday's blog, I’m not a fan of take-off or landing. I agree with Alain de Botton in The Art of Travel that "few seconds in life are more releasing than those in which a plane ascends to the sky" and I appreciate the "psychological pleasure" of flying he writes so eloquently about, but I think I equally enjoy hanging out at airports and the sense of anticipation that builds as we wait for a flight. I like to read while I wait to board, and naturally I love reading anything to do with airports, airplanes and airlines. A few favorites: Airports: A Century of Architecture, Hugh Pearman's historical and pictorial celebration of the "most exciting places on earth"; Marc Auge’s wonderfully intelligent meditation on airports (and shopping malls, motorways, etc) in Non Places: An Introduction to the Anthropology of Supermodernity; and Alastair Gordon’s compelling Naked Airport: a Cultural History of the World’s Most Revolutionary Structure.

The sleek airport interior architecture pictured is Bangkok’s new Suvarnabhumi International Airport. I wonder what the young couple pictured are reading.

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