Saturday, 31 July 2010

And people look forward to space travel?

As you know from a previous post, I don’t like flying. But I do quite like airports. They’re full of sights, sounds and smells that inspire creativity. On my recent trip to Kununurra I got plenty of time to be inspired. The plane was meant to depart at 10.45am and we arrived an hour early, as advised, confident that it would leave on time. After all we’d confirmed the time, before we left home an hour before. Silly us. At the check-in desk, we were informed that due to an unforeseen delay, the plane wouldn’t be leaving until 12.30pm. So Dynamo and I waved goodbye to the others and went to the departure lounge to pass away the time watching the rest of the disgruntled passengers.

To be fair, they weren’t all disgruntled, not at first anyway. Some had their newspapers handy, others had novels, others chatted happily on their mobile phones. I spent quite some time imagining what they might be reading or who they might be talking to, until I ran out of ideas. I listened to the long list of missing passengers and made up stories in my head as to why they were late. Then I turned to the disgruntled ones, slouching in their seats, arms folded, staring out across the runway and only stirring when a new plane landed in the distance. As soon as the tail came into view, they’d ‘tut’ and and slouch back down, giving their watch a peremptory glance before folding their arms again. I made up lots of imaginary soliloquies there.

Every so often, of course, there’d be an announcement over the general hubbub. “This is a message for all passengers travelling on Flight kjrehiiihff to Jgoerhrgfftzzz. Your plane will be boarding from Gate gljoeibe in inniebeugdf minutes. Please have your boarding pass ready.” I was beginning to think that my slight deafness in one ear had got worse, until I looked around and saw everyone else frowning at each other, then jumping up and running to look at one of the overhead screens to see which plane was boarding and where.

At 12.30pm, there was another announcement, a little clearer this time, to announce that they were very sorry, but the flight to Kununurra via Broome had been delayed further, but that if we would like lunch, a voucher would be available at the main desk. Now all 100 passengers, looking very disgruntled, raced to line up for their $8 voucher, only to find when they got to the café, that to buy one round of soggy salad sandwiches and a bottle of juice would cost them $14. Disgruntled became positively livid. We stalked back to our seats and masticated our soggy sandwiches in fuming silence.

I don’t know if you’ve ever travelled with an eleven-year-old, one whose mother calls him Dynamo for a reason. Can you imagine being delayed in an airport with said child? He was surprisingly good really; reading, eating, drawing, watching aeroplanes land, eating, watching aeroplanes depart, going for a walk just for the heck of it, eating…But by 1.45pm, his patience had thinned to nothing and I was beginning to think I’d have to gag him and sit on him to keep him still. We didn’t even have a reason for the delay, but now the plane was sitting on the tarmac in front of us – estimated time of departure 2.15pm.

At last we were called. We didn’t hear it. We sat with the large family group next to us, totally oblivious to the fact that Flight gdjzitt now boarding at Gate jhghgtheeen was ours (we’d tired of jumping up to look at the screen ages ago). If the mother of the group hadn’t stood to go and ask when the (censored) flight to Kununurra would actually be leaving, we might still be sitting there.

On board the tatty little plane, staring out at the back engine, we waited. “This is Captain Pthfffftttzzz speaking. Very sorry, we have a blocked toilet and there’ll be a slight delay while it’s fixed. Should only be thirty seconds or so.” At that point I contemplated yelling for everyone to cross their legs and forgo their inflight drinks, but I gritted my teeth and waited. And thirty minutes later we took off. By then, I was so relieved to be finally taking off, that I forget about how scared I was of flying.

The flight home wasn’t half as exciting. We were actually only ten minutes late arriving home. Aren’t you glad?


Clare said...

What a nightmare!
Unlike you, I don't mind flying but I don't like airports for all the reasons you've just listed - NOTHING ever seems to go according to plan and I hate hanging around. (Not to mention the fact thta I must have a suspicious demeanour because I always get pulled out to be searched)
Do you think this has solved your fear of flying problem? Hope so, because it's a LONG walk to Scotland!

Kate said...

I got pulled out for a search once, but only because I had my arms full of baby and didn't have a free hand to sign the declaration form - so I let my husband do it. They noticed.

No, I don't think it's solved my fear of flying, but Dynamo insists that when I go to see you, we have to go via Korea, so I guess I'm just going to have to get over it.

Joanne Fox said...

You did well to contain your nerves (and Dynamo's energy!) during such a prolonged delay. The $8 voucher is almost an insult really isn't it, given the prices of airport food.