While jumping on a plane has never been cheaper and more accessible, boarding a flight to anywhere is still one of life’s great privileges to be savoured. Or it was until the c-word hit anyway.
If you too work in the travel industry, you’ll have no doubt flown a fair distance in your time, becoming savvy (and dare I say it – a tad precious?) to the virtues of seat numbers and pitches and bread roll benchmarking in the quest for your own ultimate ‘in-flight experience’.
You may have even got addicted and developed what psychologists (don’t) call ‘acute IATA dependence’ over the years and become an #avgeek in the process.
That’s ok, this is a safe space to share our feelings and healthy obsessions. Relax, you’re amongst friends here who totally ‘get’ you.
Besides, I’d argue none of us could rival our flying habits to that of airline cabin crews. Did you know that flight attendants call us mere-mortal non-crew folk ‘earthlings?’
I know this because I was once engaged to a flight attendant and still joke that the most painful part of our break-up was losing my staff travel status.
Actually, I’m not joking. It was one of the worst days of my life when my ex broke the devastating news. I had so many dreams… but just like that; my upgradeable AD90’s vanished into rarefied air along with our marriage plans.
If any of the above is resonating for you, then not flying anywhere for what feels like forever already has probably brought you a grief-filled feeling of loss of having zero flights booked for the foreseeable future.
Yes, the struggle is a first-world problem, but it is a very real one.
While it’s only been a few weeks of being personally grounded, already, I’m imagining and wondering what that first international flight will feel like again.
So let’s put that grief to one side and instead imagine for a moment.
Join me as we close our eyes, and imagine inhaling that first comforting whiff of jet fuel as we near the terminal in the taxi with the distant hum of aircraft engines in the background. Ahhh, we’re back!
Then we’ll excitedly navigate the departures area, searching for the check-in desk hoping the queue isn’t too big before making friends as per usual with the check-in staff in the vain hope of getting an upgrade.
“Are you sure there’s nothing in the system?” we ask.
“No? That’s fine.” we’ll say. We’re happy flying Business Class anyway and can live without flying First all the time.
Ahh, we jest. It’s up the back for us but who cares where we’re sitting? We’ll soon be flying high at 30,000 feet again!
Usually, I treat going through security like a game, marking myself on speed and agility through the tricky obstacle course like George Clooney did in the movie ‘Up in the Air’.
So we’ll hedge our bets on the fastest predicted lines, watching out for problematic families, over chatty groups and any first-time ditherers who have more toiletries than Priceline stuffed in their karryon when we get to the x-ray leg.
My favourite part of the security game is always the explosives test. So much so, I wrote a story about it years ago when clearly I had too much time on my hands. You can read it here.
I take great pleasure in pausing at the screening belt and fumbling around in my bag once I’m through to ensure that whoever’s rushing behind me gets picked up before me for testing.
It’s a tiny, immature win, but sailing past them feels like taking out the Olympic Gold.
But can we get through the duty-free section without buying something we really don’t need?
Despite knowing full well that the duty-free area is far more expensive than buying outside, I still always end up failing and getting suckered into buying a new aftershave or some tech accessory I’ll never use.
Why did I buy more memory cards? I’m going to Hong Kong anyway. Oh, how I’ll laugh at myself again.
Maybe you’ll buy something you really didn’t need either. But please, anything except the giant Toblerone. Does anyone buy those?
We’ll laugh and then cry again too, at the ridiculously overpriced beers and food on offer at Australian airports, comparing it to Changi airport in Singapore as the benchmark for how airports should be.
“Changi’s been number one in the world for years!” I’ll say, but of course, we’ll still buy a few drinks anyway, before snapping our obligatory drink/boarding pass combo status updates on Facebook.
Yes, we are worthy. And we’re going somewhere.
We’ll leave it to the last minute to board once the flight is called and then I’ll realise I need to go to the toilet (sorry about that) and end up running down the terminal to make the flight as my name is called. Standard.
“We thought you weren’t going to make it,” They’ll say at the gate as we wistfully hope for the joyful ‘ping’ of a boarding pass upgrade.
“Are the upgrade gods smiling on us?” We’ll say before grimacing as the cabin crew reply with “have a nice flight” given there was no ping.
Was that my ex skulking and laughing behind the counter by the way?
Down the aerobridge, we’ll go, dreamily looking at the cockpit before running into the back of people in the boarding queue and someone’s oversized backpack. Oh, the hilarity!
Then finally, onto the plane with a smile from the crew. “Welcome back” They’ll say.
Welcome back, indeed.
Keep dreaming and stay positive my fellow airline geeks, because it won’t be too long now till we are all up in the air once more.
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