Sometimes I wonder whether I have picked out by the Almighty for special treatment. Today I arrived at Milan’s Malpensa airport to catch my 10.30am flight to Toronto. I fly business class whenever I can and have mentioned before that allows me to be the best coach I can be when I arrive at my destination, the best cb I can be when I arrive back. The plan was – purchase tickets in England, mail tickets to Italy, use tickets. The reality was – mail tickets from England to Italy – say goodbye to tickets in postal system. So I arrived at the airport with my passport, a printed receipt for the payment of the tickets, confirmation of the flight numbers, confirmation of the ticket numbers. Alitalia had me and my seat in their computer – the girl at the check-in desk showed me. But could I get on the plane? No chance. Shift scene to the ticket desk and a handling agent who clearly fitted that dreaded category that is the bane of my life… SPWLSEIADEJ Sad person with low self esteem in a dead end job. These people always work in Government offices, large monopolistic companies, non-profit organisations – and airport ticket desks. “Without your ticket Mr Barrow, you cannot get on the flight – you must buy a new ticket.” “OK (staying calm) – do you see me on your computer?” “yes” “Do you have my seat reservation details on your computer?” “yes” “have I proved that I am who I am?” “yes” “have I proved that the ticket is paid for?” “yes” “then can I get on the flight?” “no” “why?” “because you do not have a ticket.” So what happened? I had to pay 2800 euros for a non-discounted business class return flight to Toronto (they will not let me on the flight without a return ticket because I do not have a Canadian visa) – in the full knowledge that I will then be filling in a claim form to refund the 2800 euros as a lost ticket. That will put 2800 euros in Alitalia’s bank long enough for them to pay for a team of SPWLSEIADEJ’s to create a paper trail in dealing with the claim. No doubt there is some arcane logic in this. I just get chest pains at the start of a long day’s journey. I’m now sat in seat 2A on a very quiet flight, have ordered a gin and tonic and will settle down to write this week’s ezines and enjoy lunch. What a strange and stressful world we live in.