Get me to the gate on time

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - GRA­HAM ERBACHER

Here’s an ad­mis­sion: I wouldn’t call my­self an anx­ious trav­eller, but let’s just say I like to ar­rive at an air­port with time, plenty of it, to spare. It irks my trav­el­ling com­pan­ion, I know, and some­where along the line I have cul­ti­vated the be­lief that I en­joy air­ports. Myth has be­come re­al­ity and I am ex­cited by the sight of ar­riv­ing and depart­ing planes and love ob­serv­ing my fel­low pas­sen­gers.

I once knew an heiress who would go nowhere near an air­craft un­til she had been paged, although I sus­pect it was her way of let­ting other trav­ellers know who was on board. She railed too against the “lit­tle peo­ple” who were al­lowed to own cars and clog the roads.

As much as I like to think she was jok­ing, it gets to the heart of my con­cern: the X fac­tor of traf­fic jams or de­layed trains on the way to the air­port.

My worst ex­pe­ri­ence was to sit in a cab in grid­locked traf­fic in Man­hat­tan for an hour en route to JFK. The fare was no prob­lem; it was fixed. But my ag­i­ta­tion level was all the higher be­cause our pick-up ad­dress was on a oneway street and we spent those 60 min­utes fac­ing in the op­po­site di­rec­tion to the air­port. (We made it, just.)

My other lit­tle anx­i­ety is the bag­gage carousel. What a merry name for the grim mech­a­nism spew­ing forth lug­gage in er­ratic bursts, or not. I have lost a suit­case only once, but feel as if I have had my fair share of watch­ing hun­dreds of bags ro­tate, but not mine. The last dribs and drabs, such as fish­ing rods, ar­rive.

The carousel stops and still no sign. It jerks into life once more, and my bag with the red rib­bon ap­pears. The oc­ca­sion on which my lug­gage was mis­placed, on a flight from Cairo, I was miffed when it fi­nally turned up months later. It had been pil­fered, but more than what had been taken, I was an­noyed by what had been left. What did it say for my taste in clothes, CDs and sou­venirs that these should be deemed un­wor­thy of theft?

On Satur­day three weeks ago, as the east coast low bears down, I am sched­uled to fly from Bris­bane to Syd­ney at 4pm. Overnight the weather sys­tem has caused dam­age north of Bris­bane, it will be over the city early af­ter­noon and move down the NSW coast later in the day. I ring the air­line and hear the magic words: we are putting peo­ple on flights, where avail­able, as early as pos­si­ble. I have been stay­ing out­side Ip­swich, 45km west of Bris­bane, and have an un­fa­mil­iar hire car with lights and wind­screen wipers on the op­po­site side of the steer­ing wheel from my own car. It is the recipe for a rath­er­not-thanks drive in the pound­ing rain, and I am never so happy to see Exit 108 on the Gate­way Mo­tor­way, the turn-off to the air­port. Strangely enough, how­ever, I have been calmed by that pledge: you fly when you get here.

So it comes to pass. It’s a tur­bu­lent trip, for sure, but I am home and hosed be­fore my sched­uled de­par­ture time. That’s al­most like tele­port­ing, isn’t it? I’ll have one of those ev­ery time I fly.

Su­san Kuro­sawa is on as­sign­ment.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.