The Perils of Travelling: Every plane trip is different

Melbourne to Brisbane by Qantas, post-COVID pandemic

The experience coming from Brisbane to Melbourne was interesting, considering that Qantas has been in mothballs for nearly a year and a half.

We’ve thrown all Covid rules into the bin, the plane is at sardine level, no separation and if just one passenger has Covid then the rest of us are in deep shit.

As an example, the passenger next to me coughed for the whole two and a half hours.  I doubt whether people even check these days if they have it or not, so reliant are we on the herd immunity theorem.

It might account for the hostesses being taciturn to the point of almost being rude, they only came down the cabin once to deliver the snack and once to collect the rubbish.

That was it.  The rest of the time they were invisible.  I’m guessing that Covid is on their minds and seeing how easy it would be to get it in such an enclosed environment, the less contact with passengers the better.

Will it be better on the way back?

It is not.

This is a bigger disaster.

It’s 10 minutes past departure time, and they can’t find the baggage handlers to load the bags, so they’re forlornly sitting on the tarmac, and we are squashed into a steel cocoon, hoping like hell someone hasn’t lied about not having Covid.

Something else I find amusing, other than the fact they’re shuffling people around seats after everyone had been seated, is the instructions to maintain a safe distance while loading.  

If 25cm is a safe distance, then we’re ok, but if it’s the one and a half meters that’s the usual safe distance then their airline had suffered a mega fail in social distancing.  Of course, it’s not practicable in a plane, so why do they continually labor the point?

They eventually find the baggage handlers, which, to me, seems incredible there isn’t a roster to tell them where they’re supposed to be, something you think the Qantas CEO would be addressing rather than looking for $19 million houses in upscale Sydney, but apparently not.

It seems that Qantas has fired all of the local employees who used to look after baggage and clean the planes, and it is now in the hands of contractors, who are profit-orientated so less staff to do more work in half the time. So, there might be a wait for baggage, and a longer wait to clean the plane if they actually do ‘clean’ the plane – in the few minutes they have because it arrived late, and because of that the plane lost its slot in the roster!

Everything withstanding, we finally push back at 4:05 pm, 45 minutes late, and, by the way, all that time we were cooped up with no air filters keeping the virus at bay.  It’s beginning to look like the Ruby Princess saga all over again.

Seven minutes later, we take off, the pilot continually telling us they will be making up time, and those with ongoing connections, not to lose faith. Sorry, but that ship has sailed!

But, sometimes, there isn’t a lot of time between plane arrivals and departures at connecting airports, and there is one on arrival in Brisbane causing major concern, a flight to New Zealand around 7 pm.  With our arrival after 6pm, that rule of arriving at the airport 2 hours before is looking very shaky.

Glad it’s not me.  I’ve been there and it’s not good for either nerves or heart rate.

On this flight the aircrew are more visible, checking if everything is stowed before take-off, and then when snack service is upon us.

I often wonder who comes up with the idea, four corn chips, some nuts, three pretzels, and some tomato seltzer.  And a soft drink in a small can. There used to be tea or coffee once, but that seems to have disappeared, along with the cake and/or biscuits.

Despite everything, we are tracking to arrive in Brisbane ‘on time’, sorry, the new ‘on time’ of 6pm, with the plane suddenly heading for the ground a half-hour before touching down. Always a heart-stopping moment when the engines make a sudden and ‘funny’ noise.

Touch down at 5:57 pm, this one was relatively smooth, if not very fast. It seems the 737 can’t land at anything less than what feels like 200 miles an hour.

Terminal by 6:00 pm, but getting off the plane, getting to baggage collection, wait for the bags, then head for wherever you’re going, that can be up to another hour before you get out of the terminal. Today it was not so bad, there weren’t 5 planes arriving at the same time!

As for the international connection passengers, they got a bus directly from the airplane, which would save a lot of time finding the transfer desk, then finding the bus, if there was one waiting for them.

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