Bags of trou­ble

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - HE­LEN McKEN­ZIE

A scan of the depar­tures area at Avalon air­port, south­west of Mel­bourne, re­veals there are no DIY check-in kiosks. This means I will have to front a real per­son who will want to weigh my carry-on lug­gage, which I know is over the 7kg limit, but not by how much. How kind will that pretty blonde at the desk be to me? This is what a the­atri­cal English friend of mine refers to as a “tingly botty” mo­ment.

“Pop your bag on the scales,” she says po­litely, “and your hand­bag.” Oops, 4kg over, how can that be?

Less than gra­ciously, I storm off as I don’t want to pay al­most as much as the cost of the no-frills air ticket to put lug­gage in the hold.

Back out­side the ter­mi­nal, I ex­am­ine the con­tents of my case. It is re­ally only clothes. I start dress­ing. Pants over jeans, skirt over both. Woollen top and cardi­gan donned, jumper wrapped around my neck and suede jacket over the lot. Spy­ing the jewellery bag, I re­mem­ber a cou­ple of heavy sil­ver ban­gles, a neck­lace and a mass of mis­matched strands of beads. On they go.

Back at the check-in queue I pray to the gods of travel that I don’t get the po­lite but un­help­ful blonde again. Sweat­ing un­der all the clothes I’m wear­ing, I even­tu­ally get a nod from her male col­league to ap­proach the counter. Phew. I hide my wal­let, novel and notebook on the shelf be­low his view. He weighs my case, it is 8.2kg and, mirac­u­lously, he doesn’t ap­pear to care. He also seems to have no in­ter­est in weigh­ing my hand­bag and wraps a red “good to go on board” tag on my case.

Oh joy. Now to se­cu­rity. All that sil­ver jewellery has to come off so I don’t set off the metal de­tec­tors. Blink­ing heck, my belt with the metal buckle is on my jeans, be­neath the skirt, un­der the pants. I undo the skirt zip­per and then the pants and feel­ing very hot un­der the col­lar man­age to yank the belt through the keep­ers on the jeans.

I don’t un­der­stand why I’m not at­tract­ing more at­ten­tion from other pas­sen­gers as, clearly, I look ridicu­lous. Perhaps I have reached that age when women be­come in­vis­i­ble.

Home free? Not quite. Through se­cu­rity at last, I am waved over for ex­plo­sives test­ing. Very close to ex­plod­ing with heat and hu­mil­i­a­tion, I man­age to open the suit­case and hand­bag, place one foot af­ter the other on a step thingy, then spread my sausage-like padded arms and sub­mit to fur­ther prod­ding from the of­fi­cious ex­plo­sives of­fi­cer. No gun­pow­der is de­tected.

I wad­dle off wran­gling suit­case and hand­bag, skirt and pants zip­pers open, belt trail­ing ... I am red-faced, damp with per­spi­ra­tion, ab­surdly be­jew­elled but some­how still smug enough to hum a merry tune.

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