Saturday, 12 February 2011

The Long Way Home

I’m always apprehensive about flying out of Launceston; especially on a Friday afternoon!  Invariably the aircraft is late and on one occasion it didn’t arrive.  Qantas obviously know there is a problem with the sector as they allow an additional hour for my onward connection in Melbourne.

The aircraft only arrived 5 minutes late which was somewhat a surprise.  Everyone boarded quickly and we waited for the door to close.  And we wait……. and we waited!  Then there was a announcement “would we please unbuckle our seatbelts as they were going to refuel the aircraft”.  This was a new one!  So we waited.  Then the pilot announced we were waiting for the refueller to refuel a search and rescue aircraft that was about to arrive.  Fair enough, safety first!  Finally we were refuelled and departed.  It’s a 60 minute flight from Launceston to Melbourne and I usually read during the journey.  About 30 minutes into the flight I realised the sun was playing “peek-a-boo” with the aircraft.  One minute it would shine through the port windows and 10 minutes later it would be briefly in my eyes from the starboard window.  There were two options; either the pilot was doing barrel rolls or we were completing racetrack circuits over Bass Strait.  Probably the latter.  But why?  Either someone onboard was low on frequent flyer air mile points and trying to accumulate a few more or there was a problem at Melbourne.  More likely to be the latter.  Looking at my watch I realised we had already been in the air 90 minutes.  Then the pilot decided to have some fun punching holes in the clouds.  I watched the time for my connecting flight arrive and depart.  Great; a missed connection home on a Friday night. Just what I wanted!

Eventually we landed 30 minutes after my connection in low cloud and rain.  The “Flight Customer Service Attendant” (that’s code for “Hostie”)  then made an announcement that Adelaide passengers should go directly to Gate 4.   Which; of course;  was on the far side of the terminal.  I worked myself up to 130 paces to the minute and scurried around to the gate.  As I approached from a distance I could see the display showing closed and the seats in the departure lounge were empty.  Bugger!!!  Then I realised the door to the air bridge was open and the Hostie… oops Flight Customer Service Attendant; was waiting to scan my boarding card. I made my way down the air bridge to the front of the cabin expecting to be greeted by a sea of angry faces all impatiently waiting for the “missing” passenger.  Instead I was greeted by a sea of resigned faces.  I slipped into my seat expecting the door to be shut behind me.   The flight was already 50 minutes late.  But we waited.  Then the pilot announced we were waiting for one further passenger.  Five minutes later they boarded and we waited.  Ten minutes later the pilot announced we were second in the queue to depart.  Oh yeah and the tooth fairy is the co-pilot!  The aircraft door was still open and we were remained attached to the air bridge and ground power.  Twenty minutes later we pushed back and proceeded to taxi to the end of the runway…… stopping for 3 minutes every 100 metres.  Perhaps the pilot intended to drive the 737 to Adelaide rather than fly.   Eventually, with a cheer and sigh from those onboard;  we departed after the time we were scheduled to arrive in Adelaide.

We were seriously late and I hadn’t eaten lunch.  My stomach was asking my throat if it had been cut!  I don’t like doing it; but I knew I was going to eat the in flight meal.  It duly arrived and I tore the foil top off the hot container with some trepidation.  Yup,  catering from Air India.  Curried chicken and steamed rice.  Hiding under one corner of the rice were some soggy ‘greens’ that looked suspiciously like boiled weeds.  You have to be careful with the sole bread roll.  If you don’t grip it firmly on one hand when attempting to saw it open with the serrated edge of the plastic knife it can spring out of your hand and crush a toe. The secret to eating them is to cut it open and then hold one corner in your mouth using your saliva in an attempt to soften it.  At least they bung you up killing your appetite.

We landed before the curfew and don’t you just love it when the crew work to the standard script.  “Thank you for flying with XXXX; we hope you enjoyed your flight and look forward to seeing you next time you fly!”


Peter Berry said...

Tom, it is time to get over here and get that boat finished!

Tom and Jan said...

I know. I'm just trying to keep the wolf from the door and pay the taxman before we leave!

Derek and Dot said...

Hi Tom
Great fun reminds us of a flight we had in Calgary several years ago. Make sure you get here so we can catch up before we leave. All systems are go for the middle of March in our motorhome.

Tom and Jan said...

Hi Derek & Dot,
Flights are booked. Come hell or high water we will be ariving in the last week of May.