On Thursday I jumped on a plane and flew over to Auckland, as you do, to attend my godson’s wedding – what is it with Gen Y? Taking a leisurely stroll down the aisle on a Friday when the rest of the world is earning a living? Their confidence and sense of entitlement amazes me and yet they’ve no reason to consider it an inconvenience; we all happily rescheduled our lives and took time off work without a word of complaint.
Anyhow, due to New Zealand being two hours ahead of Tasmania I had to leave the day before since even if I took the 6am flight to Auckland it wouldn’t get me there in time to prepare for the 1pm start – don’t you love the way the airlines schedule the flights to accommodate the business travellers and holidaymakers: the ones with the dough, and offer the practical traveller – me – a cheap flight at 9am that serves breakfast at 10:30am. I mean really, who eats breakfast at 10:30am? But you choke it back because you paid for it and you want to get the most out your dollar.
I’d flown into Sydney from Hobart the night before, stayed with my Aunt and borrowed her car, which has been gathering dust in her garage for the past four months after she lost her licence drink driving (that’s another story!), and drove from Parramatta to Sydney at 5am the next day. While I was a bit knackered I started to feel excitement as I followed the signs to Sydney International Airport. I pulled into the long-term parking and successfully scanned my pre booked ticket. Where to go next was pretty confusing because the car park is completely enclosed and looks like every other building in the vicinity. So I follow a motorcyclist and suddenly I’m in the maze of disorganised blocks, rather than rows, of cars, not a spare parking spot in sight – the place was chockers – and no signage to direct me to up ramp! I’m thinking that surely there must be an empty space somewhere cause they’ve sold me a ticket, why would they do that if they couldn’t accommodate me? So round and round I drove and just as I start feeling desperate someone pulled out and I snaffled their spot.
In the departure hall things are a bit more orderly. Since I’m only away a coupe of days I have everything, including some gorgeous Bohemian crystal champagne glasses for the happy couple, in my carry on baggage. Check-in goes swimmingly and then I arrive at Australian Customs. I join the queue and pop my wheelie bag on the conveyor and as it enters the scanning section the conveyor comes to a halt, goes backward, forwards and then some big guy with the words ‘Security” embroidered on his epaulettes asks: “Is this your bag?”
I open my bag and he lifts out the offending item: my toiletries! It turns out my moisturiser, cleanser, toner and hair moose are all more than 100mls, which is not allowed in carry on baggage because I might make some explosives out of them and blow up the plane! He lets my contact lens solution through, even though its 300mls, because it’s considered a prescription medicine. Of course I don’t tell him its really filled with Blasting Gelatin that I plan to ignite minutes after take off with the detonator in the pocket of my jeans that their scanner didn’t pick up!
By now I’m pretty pissed off. Don’t get me wrong, I want to be safe but I can’t see the common sense in these half arsed measures. They’re clearly knee-jerk reactions to 9/11 and a refusal by governments and airports to spend money on top quality scanning equipment that really would keep the public safe. Instead, they pass the responsibility for the actions of a few madmen to the rest of us, most of whom will never commit a crime in our lifetimes.
To add insult to injury, and probably because I made a fuss, they had a female officer frisk me before they let me go! But I was determined not to let the incident ruin my whole experience and once on board, everything changed. A gorgeous Spanish flight attendant offered me a glass of bubbles and breakfast turned out to be a yummy brunch including omelette, pastries and fruit salad, which I washed down with a second glass of bubbles! Cheers to LAN Airlines!