Friday, September 21, 2007

Waiting for planes

I had to go to Launceston at short notice recently. The flight leaving that evening was booked out and I had to wait till next day and travel by the rival carrier. Which was good for I later heard that the previous evening's flight was delayed for six hours. Six hours! How can a domestic flight be delayed for six hours?

All lined up but going nowhere

Now I am not a world traveller, always in the air, millions of frequent flier points. I was practically middle-aged when I first flew in an aeroplane and since then have been in the air only infrequently. Hardly a frequent flier. But even so, it hasn't always been smooth flying. And delays? Yes!!
Was booked on Air India to fly out of Sydney to London some years back. I was scheduled to land in London in the morning in time for an appointment later that day. It was important that I be there on time. I arrived in Sydney to be told there would be a delay. “A delay!! How long a delay?” “That's hard to say'” was the reply, “the plane's still in Bombay!” I was able to transfer to a Qantas flight and got there just in time.
Once while waiting in Dublin, Ireland, I noticed the man next to me continually looking at his watch and seeming disturbed. “Worried about waiting?” I asked him. “Not really,” he replied, “I'm waiting for my brother to come from Sydney. He's been out of the country for thirty years and I mightn't recognize him.” “He probably won't recognize you either,” I suggested. “No worries there,” he assured me, “I've not been out of the country at all.”
More recently son Peter and I had completed a 10 day holiday in China and were waiting at the hotel for the bus to take the group to Beijing airport for the flight home. Our tour leader appeared with the message, “There's been a delay!” Our plane was still in Sydney. It had missed the curfew the night before and it (and its passengers ) had to wait till next morning before being allowed to take off. At least we had an extra day in Beijing.

There was movement at Frankfurt – teutonic punctuality?

Maybe when we have fully automatic, computerized planes, waiting will be a thing of the past. Passengers will be automatically called to board – on time. The plane will taxi automatically to its start point and then take off on time at the say-so of a computer somewhere. When in the air a voice will come over the PA system: “Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. Welcome on board this fully automatic flight where everything is controlled by computer. Sit back and relax. Nothing can go wrong....go wrong....go wrong....go wrong.....


Kris said...

That qantas photo is great.

Now that I have kids I am always very nervous that something will go wrong and we'll be left with two tired, frustrated, who-knows-what toddlers to deal with. The horror.

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