07 July 2010

Getting To Melbourne: Discount Airlines Are Funny

Let me start by saying that it’s probably not the best idea to take a mini-break days after getting off of a 24-hour journey from Western Europe (via Dubai) to Australia. That said, it was certainly easy to wake up at 4am to catch our flight since I was still on London time! Because Josh’s Dad is a world renowned Qantas pilot, we were able to park in the “family and friends section” of the airport, saving us time and money while allowing us to ride to the terminal in the adorable Qantas shuttle.

Now, there’s something phenomenally “unsecure” about Domestic air travel in Australia. You don’t have to show any ID at any point anywhere in the process to board your plane. You can also bring endless amounts of liquid on the plane. Apparently this is what air travel used to be like in the 90’s. After nearly ten years of the global “clampdown,” I had forgotten what that was like.

This being said, they still do random bomb testing with that special bit of fabric that is rubbed inside your bag, outside your bag, on your shoes, and so on. They cannot proceed, however, until you have read a printed out form detailing the procedure and asking for your permission. Isn’t this sort-of a redundant question? I don’t know why they even ask you. I mean, I’ve printed the boarding pass, gotten to the airport at some godawful hour and gone through “security.” Clearly I’m committed to traveling and saying “no” to the bomb swab can’t possibly be a real possibility. I can’t really see it going something like this:

Security Officer: “Sir, you have been randomly selected for bomb swab testing. Do you agree to this?”
Me: “No.”
Security Officer: “Alright then, enjoy your flight.”

I imagine it going something like this:

Security Officer: “Sir, you have been randomly selected for bomb swab testing. Do you agree to this?”
Me: “No.”
Security Officer: Squawking into radio, “We’ve got a live one! Send in back-up!”
(Pan to me in an Australian Outback prison for refusing the “optional” bomb swab)

Needless to say, I complied. We moved on to the bustling food court to partake in the ritualistic tradition of eating before departure. Is it just me, or do you have a sense of necessity when it comes to eating at the airport? I could have just eaten or I could be flying on a real airline where they’re just about to feed me and I still feel like I NEED to eat something. Thankfully, the Burger King woman made Josh’s wrap thing wrong so I got to eat the first one for free. The woman behind the counter was not impressed.

Quick bathroom stop and we’re now “boarding the plane.” By boarding, I mean the flight attendant - wearing a bright orange get-up and looking utterly thrilled to be serving us today - came over the squawk box and in a less-than-enthusiastic monotone voice announced, “Yeah, um, hi. It’s time to board. Back of the plane first.” Naturally, everyone ran for the gate at once, desperate to be the first to sit in their phenomenally uncomfortable bucket-like seat, knees smushed against their chest. Since we were in row four, we dove right in as well. All part of the fun.

Oddly, the “gateway” led to the tarmac, where we wandered around some luggage, alongside a gas trunk, UNDER THE WING, and up a flight of stairs to get on our “metal bird.” That’s right, it wasn’t an airplane. It was a giant metal bird. Everyone in their “seats,” the doors were closed and we were backing up. Fortunately, the level of service remained sky high, as our super chipper gate attendant was replaced by the dynamic duo of Becky and Shauna, who would have rather been fed to a shark than served as flight attendants on our plane. “Please pay attention to the safety demonstration. You do the seat belt like this (snaps buckle while rolling eyes). This is the life vest. Pull these or blow these (pulls and blows while rolling eyes).” The whole thing finished with this delightful tidbit of information: “Also, nothing’s free on this flight. And don’t steal anything. We prosecute.”

With that, they pulled their “privacy curtain” over, meaning they were now only visible through the GIANT HOLE in the participation wall. Good one Becky. Good one Shauna. I inflated my neck pillow, “reclined” my seat, and attempted to drift away into dreamland.

Man, JetStar is AWESOME.


Kyle Taylor

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