Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Postcards from Australia Part 1 - The Journey

Dear Reader,

A dear friend is getting hitched in Australia, which provided enough excuse for me and the Dear Lady Wife to finally make the journey from the UK to Sydney. This was an interesting journey, dotted with notable events, some of which I will attempt to recapture here.


We begin at Heathrow Airport, Terminal 3. We have arrived unfashionably early, as we have many important supplies to acquire at the airport. The intention being to breeze through check-in and security leaving us two hours to eat and purchase the essentials for the trip.


Problems started almost immediately. We tried to check-in automatically, using the machine provided for the task. After what the machine described as a moment, but was in fact a string of moments joined together to form an eternity, our attempt failed. This excluded us from the short bag drop queue. The much longer check-in queue beckoned. This queue snaked towards the entrance of the departures hall. Apparently this was a problem to our airline, who came up with a novel solution. Solutions which sprung to my mind included opening more check-in desks, staffing the existing check-in desks with humans who possessed the ability to do the job and so on. The airline was way ahead of me though.

You may have encountered a device like before, it is called the tensabarrier. This device, linked to a huge number of it's friends are deployed in airports throughout the world to control tired and irritable travellers at check-in and security to stop riots from occurring. Sometimes, they are deployed for a bit of a laugh, which was the approach of the airline here. So, the check-in queue, which already resembles the world's largest conga line has spilled beyond the control of the tensabarrier colony currently deployed. We are currently queuing in the "beyond the conga line" part of the queue. A representative of the airline addresses the area "beyond the conga line", excited we think more of the numerous currently empty check-booths to our left will be opened and this is where we were going. We were wrong. A new colony of tensabarriers had been hastily assembled to control the area "beyond the conga line". We were now part of the "outer conga line". There is a gap of a couple of metres to the "inner conga line", this is the "conga-less zone", an area so riddled with unseen danger and peril that an airline attendant has to guide people across it. You can imagine my amusement.

Several months pass, during which time we cross the "conga-less zone" without incident, and approach the end of the "inner conga zone". At that point another attendant of the airline asks if anyone on the several flights preceding ours are in the queue. Several people behind us stick up their hands. I initially presume they are going to be told that they are too late for their flight and settle in for the wailing, shouting and fighting to ensue. Image my horror when it transpires they were being allowed to "conga line jump", thus further delaying our journey. By this point I was ready to have them shot.

A mere week later and the queue jumpers have been shot checked-in. We made the front of the line. As always, at this point all check-in desks are populated by family groups spanning five generations, all of whom have, unbelievably, considering how long they have been in the "inner conga line", not got their documentation to hand. I wonder whether tossing imaginary hand-grenades in an airport is an act of terrorism.


Then a gap, and we check-in. This takes less than a minute, which leads to question it was taking so long to check everyone else in. Never mind, we are through, to security, anyway.


I wish I could say this bit was easier, but I am not that good a liar. The signs on the walls make it quite clear what you must do before going through security. Strip down to bare essentials, no belts, shoes, whips, concealed hand-guns etc. Also no liquids, everyone clear on what a liquid is? It is the sloshy stuff that isn't solid. Why am I always waiting for someone to throw away three gallons of the sloshy stuff? Why do they always have to re-pack their hand luggage as a result of doing this? We clear security, leaving only twelve minutes to board. Just about enough time to have a meal and buy some magazines and make last call for boarding feeling thoroughly sweaty and bedraggled. It can only get better.


More soon Dear Reader.


No comments:

Post a Comment