Get me to the gate on time
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.