Friday, September 09, 2011

The Blog Less Travelled

Okay so it’s been a long time since my last blog entry and I’m not even going to try and excuse myself. By way of explanation though, I was back home for baby sister’s wedding (awesome) and catch-ups with family (ditto), so the idea of sitting at a computer to write about seemed a bit silly. But I’ve been back in New York for almost a week now, so I can slowly reflect on the weeks that were and begin to share some of the standout stories with you.

I’m not one to tell tales in chronological order at the best of times, so this post is devoted to stories of coping with air travel – before, during and after.

Thanks to business class work trip to Australia back in May, I had some healthy frequent flyer points in my back pocket for the trip in August. In fact, I had enough points to upgrade myself to business class on at least one leg of the international journey. Unfortunately Australia’s national airline had other ideas, and wouldn’t let me upgrade myself – apparently my cheapass airfare precluded me from reclining in the lap of business class luxury. I even tried the “but it’s my birthday” sob story (which it was), but the airline was heartlessly unmoved.

The flight over to Australia actually turned out to be OK, all things considered. I didn’t sleep on the NY-LA flight (which was my plan anyway), so that tired me out for the LA-Sydney leg. I managed to score a bulkhead seat on that long flight too, so I had a bit more legroom than usual, and was able to curl up next to the window and get about 7 hours of sleep in between half-watching some rather average movies. [Just as an aside, why has QANTAS included “Snowtown” on its in-flight entertainment package?! Surely 37,000 feet above sea level is no place to be distressed by a horrible true story about Australian psychopathic killers and bodies in barrels?!]

Fast forward now to the return journey to NY, and our national airline AGAIN refused to upgrade me but this time they said it was because business class was entirely full. You can’t really fight that explanation, can you? On the red eye Adelaide-Sydney leg, I sat alongside an Australian national hockey player (wearing his regulation green & gold tracksuit no less). Mr Hockey Man fell asleep before take-off and snored the entire way to Sydney! It seemed that sleep, at least for me, would prove elusive on that flight. The aeroplane coffee I chugged didn’t even touch the sides, but it didn’t help improve my mood either. On arrival in Sydney, I had to almost run through immigration in order to make my international connection. Fortunately it is easy to rush through airports when you’re travelling alone, darting around half-asleep travellers and foreign visitors with no idea how to stand in a queue. So there I was on the Sydney-LA flight and surrounded by young parents and their children – the worst seating assignment EVER! Now I do spare a thought for parents with young kids on a plane. Nobody can blame the kids for their behaviour on takeoff and landing; their poor little ear drums are popping and they’re not yet old enough to know how to deal with it – so they just cry and cry, and I can totally deal with that. But during the flight itself, surely parents can do something to manage their child’s behaviour. The child in my row was an absolute darling, but she would not shut up. She jabbered away to her Mum incessantly, and stubbornly refused to sleep. I am sure her mother was as exasperated as I was, but I worked really hard to control myself. I self-medicated with three little bottles of wine, two bad movies, and an eye mask, but STILL my senses refused to be dulled. As a result, I was wide awake the whole time. On arrival in LA, suffering what can only be described as delirium by this time, I tried to distance myself from the kids, only to realise that they were all following me to New York! ARGH!! I escaped the chatterbox kid, only to be seated behind 4-year old twin girls who fought over their personal DVD collection for the whole flight. While their parents slept through it all. Where’s the justice?!

Landing at New York’s JFK Airport on Monday, I was so pleased to be back – and only a short taxi ride from my own bed. Because it was a public holiday here, the taxi driver got irritated with me when I told him I couldn’t pay in cash. “But it will take me days to get my money from the credit card company,” he moaned. Tough bikkies, buddy – I was over it, and I flatly refused to let him stop at an ATM so I could get money out for him. Naturally I had the whole taxi ride to feel guilty about my inflexibility, so I tipped him way too generously. I am such a bleeding heart sometimes.

The jetlag has hit me pretty hard this time around, no thanks to me sleeping the whole day at home on Tuesday (rather than keeping myself busy during the day and only sleeping at night). As it is this week, I’ve been going to bed at 9pm, and waking myself up at 4am – unable to get back to sleep again. It is quite frustrating. You would think that given the number of flights I’ve taken in my life, I would be quite accustomed to jetlag and how to deal with it. I’m hoping that if I have a quiet weekend, I’ll be able to regulate my sleeping patterns a bit more so that by next week, things will be back to normal. Well, that’s the plan anyway. All that aside though, I bet I would not have had any of these problems in business class!

1 comment:

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