Thursday, February 28, 2013

The romance of flying, circa 2013.

2 weeks prior.
ME: "So should I just book directly with the airline or check Expedia, Webjet and Zuji?"

CUSHION: "Of course you check everything! There are always special deals. John just flew to Brisbane for 40-something dollars."

A few hours later.

"Are you sure, Cushion? I can't seem to find anything under $59."

"59's not bad!"

"That's one-way."


"And only carry-on baggage with a 10kg limit."

"What's the hurry? You can do better."

2 days later.

"I have to book something, Cushion. I think the prices change every few days hours. It's not $59 anymore. It's $69 and that's only if I fly at 6am." 

"So book it."


An hour later.

"You know, I don't think I can make the 10kg carryon limit. I just weighed the bag. It's almost 4 kilos. The Spanish dictionary alone is almost a kilo. And don't tell me to stuff the dictionary and iPad into my backpack. The 10kg limit is a combined weight. Besides, if I only have carryon baggage, I won't be able to bring my little eyebrow scissors."

"Don't be silly. It's a domestic flight."

"But I just checked the regulations! Maybe I should just buy a 15kg check-in luggage allowance? It'll be cheaper to buy it now when I'm booking than at the airport."

"Oh, and should I reserve my seat you think? It's $5 each way for a standard."

"Goodness, should I buy carbon credit?"

"Crap. I think I should get flight insurance. What if something happens and I need to go up early?"

"Listen. Don't worry about taking the 6 o'clock flight. You're only saving $20 and we'll have to get up at 3.30. That's just ridiculous. I don't want to get up at 3.30. Just book a later flight. And go for the 15kg check-in baggage. You're wasting too much time on this."

No kidding.


"Seats 1 to 15, keep left. 16 to 30 (or was it 32?) go straight." The Departure Lounge Lady announced. I was in seat 15. Obediently, everyone got up to queue. The best time to go to the ladies, I thought. So off I went. 

By the time I got back, there were only 5 people ahead and in no time at all, I was front of the line. Clever me, I congratulated myself. Just as I got to the counter, Departure Lounge Lady bellowed out, "Mobile phone check-ins to the left." 

Click. Whrrr. What? I was desperately trying to digest this new information, when Departure Lounge Lady grabbed the boarding pass from my hand. As I stood there with vacant eyes and slack jaw contemplating whether I should go left as earlier instructed *whirr*click* ...

"Straight ahead!" Departure Lounge Lady called out impatiently, pointing behind herself. "You have to go straight through the door." Next to me, in his mobile phone check-in line to my left, I heard Man In Suit snigger. 

What are you sniggering at, you rude sod! I wanted to tell him. I'll have you know I am a well travelled woman! And just because I'm not familiar with web check-ins, express self check-in machines, bag drop counters, mobile phone check-ins, SMS itineraries/notifications at 0.99 cents a pop, carbon tax options and how much cream, gel or water I'm allowed to carry on board this particular domestic flight doesn't make me stupid. (Right, Cushion?) 
Anyway, look at you, Mr Man In Suit. You're so low on the totem pole, you have to take the cheapest flight out to Brisbane on the cheapest carrier, mingling with sandalled backpackers and frugal menopausal housewives. BWAH haha, I say. BWAH haha.

So I followed Departure Lounge Lady's strict instructions and of course, ended up at the line going up the back of the plane. "Sorree!" I said to Tarmac Lady, pointing at the chute overhead, going to the front of the plane. "I think I'm supposed to be up there." "No worries," she beamed back at me, unnaturally jovial at 5.45 am. "You're seat 15. That's right in the middle." 


We sat on the tarmac for a good 15 minutes. Someone announced that the plane was being refuelled. The InFlight Ladies walked up and down chastising people who were trying to kill their fellow passengers by not turning off their electronic devices, who hadn't buckled up, who already had their seats down, who put their bags in the overhead compartment wrongly. "Wheels in first!" they called out. It might be a cheap flight but The Ladies were ruthlessly efficient. The plane started to taxi. It taxied for so long, I fell sleep. A loud unhappy grumbling woke me up. 2 thoughts collided in my head. "Finally! We're off! And "Oh god! Does the plane sound sick?"

No sooner were we up in the air, when the InFlight Ladies came round with their trollies. "Coffee? Tea?" 
Lady, do you honestly think I would waste $3 on a small plastic cup of blackish hot water with not even a dry bikkie to go with it, after waking up at 3.40am to save $20? 

No thanks, I replied politely, pulling the crushed cold pumpkin, spinach and feta muffin that Cushion had bought me the day before, from the bottom of my backpack. A bit of water to wash the crumbs down would have been good, but I hadn't brought any because I wasn't sure if a bottle would be allowed through. (Note to self for future reference - possibly yes because the mother and daughter across the aisle were drinking brazenly from a 1 litre bottle.) 

5 minutes later, InFlight Ladies came round to pick up the empty cups. And before you could say "Whatever happened to the romance of flying?" the pilot (or whoever does these things) was announcing our descent into Brisbane. 


Rose ~ from Oz said...

Been there, done that Bwahahahaha.

How long have you been in Brissy??
I thought you'd only left like yesterday - eeek, I've lost days from my life then!

How is dear brother, wish him well won't you T?

How is your TOE? Did you get shoes on?

georgia little pea said...

Was thinking of you when I wrote it, ROSE! Got here yesterday morning. Feels like forever, I've got so much done ;) Brother is okay, some complications so not discharged yet. Was supposed to be home yesterday. My toe was getting better but was on my feet too much yesterday so it's sore again. Bah. Shoes feel better than thongs X

June said...

I have not flown in years and years. And if your account is anything to go by, I won't be flying ever again.
Or, if I do, I'll make the travel agent set it all up and just give me a list of what to do when and where.

Rose ~ from Oz said...

At least you didn't get lost at the airport.....

Jolly good news that 'brother' is ok, mmm lets hope complications get sorted quick-smart. And home real quick.

Good that you can get shoes ON, coz toesy is better protected from knocks than thongs!

Go easy on the water won't you!

verobirdie said...

Memories, memories.
I've booked all my flights in Oz at 6:00, with carry on.
They confiscated the sun cream ...
I'd printed all details, to the dispair of daughter #2, who explained again and again that the ID is enough.
Each time we were asleep before take off.
And last weekend I grabbed the last seats for Barcelona, for April 30. Very hard to choose the right baggage mode. I found out only after paying that I bought 23kg allowance instead of the cheaper 10... Oh, and paying by card is 8 euros more. That' s not fair as it is the only possible method...
Be kind to your toe.
Give your brother my get well wishes.

H and Flo said...

Paahaaa! I will be doing the same thing in a couple of weeks but Darwin to anywhere is longer than Sydney to Brisbane, so we won't get our cups snatched off us quite so quickly. It sounds like a Jet* flight... my advice when travelling Jet* is 'always bundle'; 10kgs is NEVER enough! And you always want the option of changing it. And the Qaintarse frequent flyer points, although I'm about to start boycotting them. Once I've used up all my frequent flyers, of course.

AND CAN YOU BELIEVE that they phoned me to say that my flight to Singapore later in the year has been moved to the following day... I told them that wouldn't do because I had a connecting flight to UK later that evening. They just put me back on the flight upon (!) which I was originally booked and I was left asking myself what the bloody point of all that was? Except to generate more bloody e-tickets as it had to be re-issued even though after all that waiting on the phone and all that tapping away at the computer by the Jet* consultant it resulted in me BEING ON THE SAME STUPID DAMN FLIGHT THAT I BOOKED IN THE FIRST PLACE FROM THE COMFORT OF MY OWN HOME!! Grrr.

Gosh, that turned out to be a long comment which has got me all worked up. Sorry. I feel like I should go and align my chakras or something now. :)

Hope bro is coming good!

georgia little pea said...

Flying these days is a pain, JUNE. I wish I could just be put in suspended animation and travel as cargo. I haven't flown domestic for years and didn't realise how complicated it had become. Well, it's supposed to be easier but the options almost killed me.

What do you call ending up on the wrong Q, ROSE? but of course, that wasn't MY fault ;)

VERO, your sun cream? That's ridiculous. Aha! You must have been carrying the regular tube and not the one that's got just enough sunblock for your big toe. I hear in Europe, they have carriers that make you pay for using the toilet. Is that true? Thanks for the well wishes X

georgia little pea said...

H, you are hysterical! You guessed right. But to give the * their due, the flying roo isn't much better despite being way more pricey. You know, when we were in Fiji year before last, some people staying at our hotel got their flight brought forward by THREE days and they weren't even informed, they read about it in the papers! Can you believe it? Who paid for the nights and excursions they missed out on, I'd like to know. So...back to the motherland for a holiday?

Sherri said...

Been there. I don't fly often, and when I do, I'm so confused over the what you can carry on list, where you have to go, what the heck are those kiosks for, on and on and on. I just want to yell, "I'm a customer not a criminal...back the *** off!" I'm afraid to pack or do anything that might get the safety folks thinking I need a more detailed inspection. ARgh!! Do you fret over what shoes to wear too? I do. I only wear sandals because they are the easiest to get on and off to go through the inspection line. It's like being processed into prison - not that I REALLY know what that is like, but I imagine the indignity of body scans, shoe and purse xrays, blah blah darn close! Hope your brother and toe are healing. Tell Georgia HI and give her a bikkie ....I know she's been a good girl and deserves one.

What Remains Now said...

When I was younger, I flew frequently, but it's a different world, when you flew to Miami for the cruise I was greatly amused and maddened by some of the "new" stuff.

Glad to hear that your brother is doing okay. Best wishes for continued good progress.

H and Flo said...

It's not the first time they've done that to me. The first time was even more ridiculous; they put another flight on so bumped everyone from the 6.20 flight on to the 9pm flight, instead of just leaving everyone on the 6.20 flight where they were and taking new bookings for the 9pm. Reeeeeediculous. Yes, trip back to Scotland. Qantas have now re-routed all their flights to Europe via the Middle East rather than Singapore so if we want to fly from Darwin on the Roo we have to fly at least 4 hours in the opposite direction, hang around in an airport for goodness knows how long and then back OVER Darwin. More stops, longer journey. Since my flight was booked ages ago I got a call from Q to let me know that I was having to fly BA (don't even get me started on THEM). I made a complaint. I think I may even have called Alan Joyce a little twerp. Actually, I did call him a little twerp. So much for us being the gateway to Asia. I also reminded her what the NT in QANTAS stood for. Pah. And what about my Q Club membership??? What good is that now? I am taking my business to Singapore Airlines from now on. Pah pah pah!

Off to say some 'oms' and take a chill pill.

Sorry, did it again. Promise not to hijack your comments again. ;)

georgia little pea said...

OMG SHERRI! you just made me realise I forgot about the shoes. I wore my sneakers so my toe would get a little protection. Whew! I must have an honest face :) thanks for your thoughts. I just got a call from Cushion a couple hours back. Apparently, Georgia is missing me hahaha! So hard to believe.

LORI, maddening is right. I used to love flying. Now I just want it over with. Unless I get upgraded. Then I want it to go on a bit longer :) thank you for your well wishes!

H, nooooo! I'm enjoying your rants. I didn't know about the re-routing. That's crazy if it's adding on hours of travel time. This reminds me of the really REALLY cheap flights to Singapore with the long layover in Darwin. Hours. So an 8 hour flight becomes something like, what...14? You'd have to be nuts to go for that option!

What a great whinge! Off to bed now. G'night X

Reilly / Denny Cowspotdogs said...

It is all about the rush these days - and I mean rush as in hurry - not rush or adrenaline. It is like everyone has there be there 5 hours before they left !!! Everyone wants to be first in line, first to the door, first to get their seat and for what - just to sit there waiting even longer to take off :)

houndstooth said...

Ha ha ha ha ha! Oh, you should have heard about my trip home from Knoxville! I could have DRIVEN and gotten home faster. I think it's okay to have water if you buy it there at the airport after you get in past the check in points, but Australia may be different.

Peggy Frezon said...

You may not believe this but I've never been on a plane and reading your post I'm not sure I'm in a hurry to try. Did you sleep the whole flight? Do you find that part relaxing then?

Patrice and Higgins said...

Oh the horrors of mom has been there, done that! Don't drink to much cause the bathroom on the plane is even I have heard!!!


Jean said...

Well, I'm glad you arrived safely, and thanks for confirming my belief that it is best to stay home. Period.
Glad your brother (and your toe) are doing okay - best wishes for the speedy recovery of both.
And I hope he has contacted the water people to warn them you are visiting again. :)

Ann Oon said...

HA! You must be bored there. Don't go cleaning the whole house and waste all the water there.

Hope your brother will be cleared for home soon so you both can enjoy some time together.

But a truly njoyable read on flying... it happens to some of us too...but ur the better storyteller :)

I almost didn't get to go up on the plane to Bkk last year. I counted wrongly and i was short of 2 days to 6 mths for a valid passport. But they let me go thru... it kinda freaked my other 2 friends who were depending on me to guide them to Bkk. *LOL*

Pamela said...

Thank you. Thank you.

I was just starting to wonder if it was really worth learning how to sail, buying and repairing a cheap boat, selling all my possessions, and braving deadly storms just to travel without facing the horrors of modern air travel.

You've convinced me it's worth it. So very worth it.

Hope your brother can head home soon. Hospitals are dangerous. He'll be much better off at home.

Anonymous said...

I haven't flown for a few years and have been invited to a wedding a distance away.

I am definitely sending regrets after reading this.

sonia a. mascaro said...

I am glad to hear that your brother is doing well. Sending him my best wishes.
Glad to hear that your toe was getting better too.
Bon voyage!
Boa viagem!

GizmoGeodog said...

Yes, I'm old enough to remember when flying was actually fun...We'd arrive 20 minutes before takeoff and run to the gate where the "stews" (there were no men back then) would greet us with smiles and say "hurry, you're almost there"...We'd meet friends at the gate with bottles of champagne...And yes, I could keep my shoes on the whole time...Oh god how old does this make me? aaargh! These days I only fly if there's absolutely no other choice...about once every two years is my average...and I do that kicking and screaming all the way

Taryn said...

It sounds like Australia has ruined flying in a similar manner to here in the USA. I haven't flown in several years and it just seems like such a hassle! Although I do have to confess, I am getting the urge for a more exotic vacation than what is driving distance from me!

Kristine said...

Hahahahaha! Best flight story ever. When I recently flew to the US it was the first time I had been to an airport to fly out since 2005. Gosh had things changed! You being a great world traveler, it made me feel a lot better when your experiences were quite similar.

I hope your brother is doing well!

georgia little pea said...

REILLY/DENNY, you hit on another goody! I forgot to write about WHEN I GOT TO THE AIRPORT.

There were quite a lot of people and short queues in front of the self-service check-in machines. Every counter (with a human) had a sign that said BAG DROP. I couldn't find any that was just a normal check-in, so I asked one of the Airport Men standing around. "You want to use the self-service machine? he asked me. "No, I want a counter check-in. I have check-in baggage," I said (quite relieved I was too, because I had no idea how to use a self-service machine and didn't want to fumble, take too long and make a queue irate). "This queue, ma'am." Young Airport Man pointed to a queue that led up to ...hmmmm.... A BAG DROP counter? I hope he didn't think I was stupid too. There were just 3 or 4 people in the line so YES! I scored going the old fashioned way, dealing with a human.

I confess! I don't get this new express/more convenient way of checking in. I would have had to join a queue, do the check-in myself, then join another queue to drop off my bag? How does that make checking in easier/faster? Of course, I could have done a web check-in (up to 48hours earlier), or a mobile phone check-in, then all I would have needed to do at the airport was join one queue to drop off the bag. Or actually if I'd done a web/mobile phone check-in and NOT had any check-in baggage...that would have worked perfectly! Confused much yet?

And WHY oh WHY do people insist on standing up and getting their carryons out before the plane even comes to a stop? If I get one more bag smacking my head, I swear I will bite the bum that is next to my face...GRRRRR!

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to make my first rant of a new day REILLY/DENNY! That was cathartic! :D

georgia little pea said...

BUNNY'S MUM, it's crazy how early we have to get to the airport. 2 hours these days, for a domestic flight? Come on! We are too cheap to buy water at the airport. It costs at least 20 cents more than it should.

PEGGY, I find that very hard to believe alright, you lucky thing! I did indeed sleep for about 15 minutes. It was a short hour and a half flight. If you ask me, most of that time was taken up taxi -ing at each end, ascending and descending ;)

HIGGINS, the toilets can indeed be messy after a long haul. There are always idiots who don't clean up after themselves but at least, they don't smoke in there anymore!

Oh that's funny JEAN!!! I mentioned to him how he'd inspired us to go mellow yellow and use more grey water. He didn't know about the blog post. To make things easier for me, he's actually dismantled his washing machine system and it now uses town water. I'm being careful nevertheless. Thank you for you well wishes! X

Dear ANNY, 2 days! You're practically a criminal! I hope my brother gets home soon too. He's getting very grumpy at the delay. I've already swept the yard, vacuumed, done the dirty laundry, cleaned out the bathroom and toilet, stocked the pantry and cooked and frozen 8 containers of chicken and vege soup. Not bad for 2 days work :)

PAMELA, don't sailors have to join any queues to enter and exit a port? No fair. 2014 is coming up fast, isn't it? Bitty bop bitty bop...that's the sound of my heart just thinking about your seismic sea change! Ours seems to be stalling. Circumstances out of our control. Sigh.

JAN, or you could start driving now?

Obrigada, minha querida SONIA. Eu estou ja em Brisbane!

Oh poop GIZMO, I remember those days well too! We could even go to the cockpit to suss out the view from there. Is anyone allowed to do that these days? Or would they be tackled by the Air Marshal for asking? There are of course, still airports that are less strenuous to get through. I know for sure there's one (or used to be one) in Pokhara, Nepal.

TARYN, I'm afraid so. We are equally paranoid here ;) maybe you could take a train? At least that way, no one will ask to see your feet and you can definitely carry some water on board.

KRISTINE, me being a great world traveller, it was even more embarrassing how clueless I was. I'm sure Cushion is going to have something to say about me announcing my stupidity to the world when he reads this post. In my defence, I haven't done a domestic flight in more than 10 years. I swear, the process for international is easier (at least from a booking/checking in POV).

sagechronicles said...

Sounds about the way it goes here too. Why did they have to make it so disagreeably awful? At least they haven't started charging for the coffee yet (here anyway).

Hope your brother is doing well (as well as your toe!).

Karen said...

When Sean was working in California, I flew down to see him about every 3 weeks. Flying these days SUCKS and all the security checks make you feel like a criminal piece of crap.

Since I absolutely refuse to buy Dasani water (usually the only option in airports) because it tastes like crap and I don't feel like getting dinged $4 a bottle, I bring empty bottles and fill them up in the drinking fountains past security.

On a happier note, I hope that your Bro is on the mend.

Jen said...

Eeek....the last time I was on a plane was in....2003? I think? It was a short trip to Florida to visit my aunt, and I only brought my purse and a backpack.

Tootsie said...


I hope your brother is feeling better and heals completely so he can return to his water saving ways. You are a doll to put away soup for him.


Tootsie's Mom
A total aside... but right now, Tootsie is in Idaho with Grandpa, Dachshund Daddy is in Switzerland, and I am in Notre Dame, Indiana. Flying in the next day!

georgia little pea said...

SAGE, I'm sure the toilet is next! Brother stil not home :(

KAREN, you're as cheap as us hahaha! When Cush reads this, I'm sure he'll say "that's the way to go!" :)

JEN, 2003? It amazes me how many of you don't fly (much). I thought the States was a big place! Do you all drive around? ;)

Dear TOOTSIE'S MUM, you fly so much, I bet you do all this automatically and without ending up on the wrong queue LOL. Heck. Even Tootsie flies more than most people! Give the truncated one a hug for me please! X

verobirdie said...

Yes, it was a regular sun cream tube. Sigh.
Until now, we can pee free of charge in the plane. I think it was just a joke.

LetterstoAndrew said...

Here we can only bring water on the plane if we've bought it inside the airport. Those buggars get you every time!

chandra said...

I LOVE flying domestic in Australia! Why? Because I don't have to take my shoes off or pull the approved-size liquid bottles out of my bag. Going through security is a BREEZE compared to the U.S. When I recently flew from Sydney to Melbourne at 7 a.m. I skipped through the metal detector and told the security how much I loved them and Australia!

But I have driven myself to headaches several times trying to say money when booking flights. I always say that if I ever happen into a ton of money, after I help my favorite causes, I will splurge and buy my very own plane. Being able to go where you want, when you want - with your dog in the cabin with you! - would be the absolute best.

-c at ddy.

georgia little pea said...

See. I should have asked you, CHANDRA! I haven't flown domestic in at least 10 years and didn't have a clue. When we were in Brazil, they just made us take a few sips from whatever size bottle of water we had, then let us through. That makes sense to me.

You were in Sydney too?!

Corina Ogan said...

I try to avoid flying if I can drive to the destination, partly because I want to have my own transpo, another is that I’m not a big fan of flying. However, I do remember my other flights going almost like that, particularly when my relatives drag me to trips overseas. At least in those trips I don’t have to bang my head on the wall while trying to figure out if we’re going to miss a connecting flight. I think that single experience discouraged us all from going for the far-flung vacation places.

Corina Ogan