The flight upgrade was always going to be a long shot, really. I didn't have the frequent flyer points to upgrade myself, so any chance of a berth in business class was always going to depend on the kindness of strangers. And hey, it was my choice to fly overseas on my birthday (in an effort to deny the very occurrence) so I could hardly milk the birthday for the sake of the upgrade, right? And yet part of me still wanted to try. The idea of lying down for the whole flight had loads of appeal. Ugh it was a line call.
As it turned out, Australia's national airline staff at JFK apparently hate their jobs and their lives, and they are quite sour-pussed women all round, so I wasn't getting any love there. In fact, the girls were seriously power-tripping the day I flew home. They declared my suitcase 3kg over the limit and told me I had to repack it. No "HEAVY" sticker would be affixed to my luggage - there was simply no option but to repack it. So I could have 2 suitcases worth 23kg each, but not one suitcase at 26kg. So airline tripper #1 throws a cheap-ass stripey plastic bag at me and tells me to syphon about 3kg of my clothes into it. I was seriously put out, and she knew it. But I had a plane to catch and I had to oblige.
And so it was that two hours before my flight home, I was on my hands and knees at the JFK business class counter, trying to discretely repack 3kg of clothes into some ridiculous zippered bag. A beefy airline staffer came out of nowhere and tried to fling open the lid of my suitcase, thinking that would make it easier to repack. I was already suffering serious indignity and how dare he think I wanted the contents of my luggage visible to everyone. So I snapped at him that I was fine and he should seriously just back off and leave me alone.
Any chance of an upgrade for good behaviour fizzled to nothing. Truth be told, I surprised they didn't re-assign my seats back near the toilets or worse, by the screaming kids. Despite my disintegrating mood and attitude towards humankind, I was buoyed by the promise of the airport lounge and the free alcohol therein. Frequent flyer status is still good for some things.
Having hurled my lighter suitcase and second-class second bag onto the luggage carousel, the pencil-skirted airline staffer checked my belongings quickly. She was as keen to get rid of me as I was to leave. I shot her some serious stink-eye and headed through security. Do you know that this whole way home, the only airport person who even acknowledged my upcoming birthday was the passport security lady at JFK? Crazy. JFK lady quietly wished me well, and had the good sense to agree with me that a birthday spent at 37,000 feet and straddling the international date line probably didn't count anyway. A kindred spirit!
The airport lounge was busy but the white wine was cold, and the pretzels crunchy. The world was ever-so-slowly righting itself. Pretty soon I was boarding the plane for LA. I was hemmed into my window seat by two very large, very old women. No chance of getting out to pee. I conjured thoughts of deserts. A couple of movies and a bottle of red later, and we arrived once again in the only Diet Coke-free airport I've ever known. LAX is a shithole, no matter which way you slice it. Thank heavens I only had to stopover for a couple of hours.
Before long we were back onboard and headed for Sydney. I was again squished by the window, but this time my travelling companions were a young couple returning from a 60 day road trip from New York to San Francisco. We chatted amicably until dinner arrived. I devoured my meal, passed out, and woke up at breakfast time. I spent my birthday unconscious. It was awesome.
Sydney airport greeted me with a super-strong coffee (bliss) and a hot and greasy bacon sandwich (ditto). When I got sick of screaming kids, I retreated to the airport lounge and wondered why nobody has opened up a salon to give you a quick hair wash and blow-dry in between flights. Someone could make a bucket of money doing that, don't you think? And if someone was there to put a fresh coat of make-up on your shattered face, so much the better.
Adelaide hasn't changed a bit and I wouldn't have it any other way. The new airport carpark is a bit fancy and so far a mystery to all the motorists who can't seem to find a) their cars; or b) the exits. But once we were on the road it was all good.
Seeing Annie-bot the puppy dog was wonderful and I was so relieved she still remembers me.
The first couple of days back home have passed by in wine-and-jetlag-fuelled narcolepsy, punctuated by brief catch-ups with family and friends.
Tucking into Cheezels, but pacing myself until the meat pies, Coopers, and pasties come out. Dinner last night at the super-tasty Panacea and yet more Aussie wines, sparkling and otherwise. It has been a hedonistic yet slothful couple of days.