I love flying. Being someone who doesn’t have to travel often for work, almost all of my flights are for pure pleasure. I find the airport to be an exciting place; full of travellers coming and going, beginning and ending their adventures. Familes and lovers reunited happily or saying tearful goodbyes (hopefully not forever!) as well as those flying veterans who know some of the coffee shop attendants by name and who don’t have to tell them what kind of coffee they’d like to sip as they read the latest issue of the financial review while waiting for their next business flight.
When I fly home for Christmas I pack light. I’m usually only home for the week, maybe a couple of days longer if the calendar allows it so I have no need for checked baggage. (Besides, the first thing my Mum says to me after giving me the biggest hug she can manage is “How are you off for clothes, do you need more shorts? What about shirts?” so if I wasn’t taking presents I’d really only need to pack my toothbrush and go with the clothes on my back)
Naturally, I arrive at the airport early to check in and make sure that I have some time to relax before the flight. I also arrive early to go through security. Because even though they claim that their checks are “random”, I think my personal probability of being selected is currently somewhere around 99.9999%. Even though I don’t dress or act suspiciously (that I’m aware of!), I can recall maybe one occasion on which I managed to avoid being swabbed by the explosive detector once I’d passed through the metal detectors.
It’s all just preamble though; preparation for another exciting trip! Once the formalities are done I can really begin to enjoy myself. I make my way to my departure gate and if I’ve brought a book, I’ll make myself comfortable and read a bit before the boarding call is made. Otherwise I’ll watch the folks around me as they make their way excitedly, sadly and even angrily to and from their various gates.
Then it happens. The chime is heard over the PA system and people jump to attention. They grab their luggage (then their children) and briskly surge towards the gate as though the airline will only allow the first twenty people onto the flight. I usually book a seat at the back of the plane (because in the incredibly unlikely event that we do go down, I stand a better chance of survival … unless the tail tears off, in which case I’m in trouble (nuts, I should’ve thought about that!), so I just take my time making my way to my seat.
Once the plane hits the skies it’s roughly a two-hour trip from Brisneyland to Cairns. When the holiday is over, I grab my bag again and jump aboard the next steel-skinned behemoth that will ferry me back to “reality”…
On the fourth day of Christmas, the Season gave to me…
Four airborne hours
Three fresh breaths
Two swimming pools
and a trifle made for the Family