I awoke at 4:30am to head back to Sydney from Melbourne for a one-hour meeting before returning to Melbourne by 2pm just in time for an afternoon meet and greet followed by the conference President's Dinner where Justine and I would proceed to wine, dine, and be generally awesome.
My morning routine went off without a hitch and I caught a can in record time for 5am. The driver dropped me at Tiger's auxiliary terminal located 2 or 3 days walk from the rest of the airport, fresh drinking water, and any signs of intelligent life.
Naturally, there were two people to check in an entire airplane. Brilliant guys. Just brilliant. The announcements over the PA included things like: "Hi, okay, we are paging the four people who checked in but have not gotten on the plane to Brisbane. Apparently they don't want to go to Brisbane today.". They were made at ear-piercing levels that left all of us in line wincing while simultaneously plugging our ears.
My fellow passengers were attempting to check bags enveloped in plastic wrap and duck tape as large and as heavy as a small donkey. Babies were crying. Some weren't wearing shoes. The staff were clearly over the moon and job satisfaction was visibly sky high (read: sarcasm).
As I neared the desk the announcement was made that I would, in fact, not be traveling to Sydney this fine morning; something everyone had told me in jest (or truth, apparently) AFTER I had bought my ticket. Of course, what did I expect? After all, I was traveling from a leaping tiger to a paw print. That's never good.
The panic begins To set in immediately. I am flying to Sydney for only one meeting. One INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT meeting. I have a return flight that will go to waste. My phone has no reception thanks to the brilliant Vodaphone so I can't phone my boss to confer.
My instinct is to dart back to the other terminals located in civilization and find an alternative flight. I take off at full speed, arms and bags flailing.
I maintained this pace for the first several hours of my run but by the time I reached the other terminal I was panting, sweating, and wildly flustered.
Arriving at the Virgin ticketing desk resulted in being advised that all flights are full. Quantas lovingly offered me a one-way price equal to chartering a private jet, so that was out.
I finally arrived at the JetStar ticketing desk, lump in my throat and near tears. This whole skip back to Sydney was incredibly important and now here I was stranded by the powers of dreaded Tiger Airways.
I reached the counter and attempted to explain to poor Mary what was happening. The added stress of knowing the only workable flight was leaving in 35 minutes (with ticketing closing in 5) didn't help. "I me Sydney go now work Tiger bad meeting important broken phone airplane soon.". Mary looked at me, "I'm sorry, what?" I tried again. "Plane. No fly. Meeting. Sydney. Sad. Go now."
"So you need a plane to Sydney now for a meeting," she translated. I nodded.
Mary is my new hero. She managed to completely sort my entire drama out in under 3 minutes with 1 minute to spare before ticketing closed. She did this at a reduced rate (out of pity, I think) then raced me through security after having to run my credit card twice because I couldn't remember the pin. It was a tragic comedy of errors.
Thankfully, I made the meeting in no small part due to Mary. Tiger, you are the worst. EVER.
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