There are a lot of really good things about having a job in Aviation, one of which is that we get discounted flights. But do not be fooled by the whimsy of not needing to pay thousands of whichever currency you’re using, because airport chairs or floors can get incredibly uncomfortable if you have somewhere to be, urgently. In my case, I need to get home, because my holiday is officially over and I need to get back to work. I am 13 hours away from home now. With only one flight that leaves in the next couple of hours and me sitting on a very uncomfortable surface with a lot of other people around me looking like they would kill me if I get a seat and they don’t, you should be able to understand that with great discount comes great anxiety attacks.
Not only do I have to be at the airport at least 2 hours before the flight departs, I also will not know whether I will board that flight until the boarding gates open. So here I am , 2 hours before the flight, standing in line at the service desk. The lady behind the desk is friendly, she understands, but still I have to take a seat and wait until they call me. An hour goes by and I’ve had my fair share of coffee and I’ve watched an episode of Breaking Bad and I’m still waiting for the typical “Ladies and Gentlemen” announcement to happen.
I only have half an hour left until my fate is thrown at me, so I decide to pack everything just in case I need to hop up in a hurry. There is a man speaking to one of the Ground Staff, they have been offloaded because they’re child has an ear infection. I feel sorry for them, but it makes my chances of getting onto the flight a lot better. Staff traveling is a dog eat dog world, survival of the fittest and may the odds be ever in your favour all thrown together in a washing machine of tears and anger and laughter and relief. UHG how is the time going by so slowly?!
“Ladies and Gentlemen, those of you travelling on staff travel please approach the check-in desk.” Finally! Just give it to me straight, yes or no?
The couple next to me got two seats as well, but the guy on my other side isn’t as lucky. He was supposed to have a transit visa, because his onwards flight might have him stuck on the airport for longer than what is legal. So the poor guy had a seat, but couldn’t be allowed on. That makes no sense to me, why would you need a visa if you’re going to stay airside? Anyway, I now have to run to the gate because the flight is already boarding and I am still standing at the desk. “Bye-bye check-in luggage, have a fun ride downstairs, don’t get lost now!”
So I am speed walking with my Adidas sport bag as a carry-on because my friend borrowed my usual wheeled carry-on and all I can hear is the final call for my flight. How?! We JUST got our boarding passes. And now I’m stuck in line behind about a thousand people to get through security. Tick-tock security people!!!
Okay so 20 people later I am ripping my MacBook out of my handbag and tearing my jacket off and practically throwing my bags into the rubbery flappy mouth of the x-ray scanner and I run through the thing that beeps for every tiny bit of metal that exists. On the other side I am egging the machine on like I am betting on a horse race, begging it to give my bags to me sooner so that I can shove everything I took out of the bags, back into the bags. After half falling into my shoes that I had to remove because it was bound to beep, I am doing this weird speed wobble every 10 steps, you know walk walk walk faster wobble walk walk… Passport Control! Trying to manage getting my passport out of my handbag with one hand while walking and holding my carry-on over my other shoulder is insane! How do people travel with children?! Okay I have to smile at the official looking guy behind the desk. He scans my passport and then stamps it and he double checks that it is in fact me in the picture before handing it back to me and saying I’ll have to run. And he is grinning. As if it is funny that I am sweaty and out of breath and it makes no sense because I have been at the airport for 2 hours. And so I continue my speed wobble after thanking him for stamping my passport. I can at least see the gate.
Bleep, my ticket is scanned and I start walking down the air bridge to the aircraft, which feels like another 10km away. Finally greeted with a smile on board by one of the cabin crew, I waddle my way to my seat and I am being given the stink-eye by my fellow passengers for arriving so late. Little do they know.
I think it was about 3 minutes after I boarded when they closed the last door, I plopped myself down onto my much softer airplane seat and settled in for the 13 hours that awaited me. Shortly after, I watched the safety video and felt the plane jerk as we started to push back, the crew was told to arm their doors for departure. The taxi was short and soon we were finally in the air. Just after the seatbelt sign went off, about half the plane got up to do something or the other, nobody knows how everyone would desperately need something that very second, but the ruckus died down and finally the crew got around to start service. They did not take my order yet, which makes sense, and they won’t until every other guest has had their choice. So I am having a cup of tea and waiting patiently for them to get around to little old me, staff, travelling as a passenger. At least my seat has a massage function!