I feel like I shouldn’t really gripe about long haul flights – they usually mean we are off to somewhere exotic and interesting, but oh my god, do they knock me around.
Given I have recently been fighting off pneumonia and bronchitis and sinusitis and shit like that, and was so close to cancelling this trip and leaving Aunty Mary to go without me, I have pulled up this morning much better than expected (good reason for not writing about it last night – my view on the matter was decidedly less circumspect with pain levels through the roof and just absolutely exhausted).
We left Brisbane at 0500, so had to be at the airport at 0300. I, of course, was still doped up to the eyeballs on Valium as we left the house having had somewhere in the region of 3-4 hours sleep to get up at my alarm at 0200. :/ Not an ideal start to the day, but what do you do. Race across town to the airport, vaguely thinking about the fact that my travel insurance doesn’t kick in until you are 50kms from home, so there would be no death benefits payable if we crashed and burned on take off because the airport is only 15kms from home, (#ThingsThatGoThroughMyHeadWhenStoned)… Do the hurry up and wait thing at the airport. Line up get boarding passes, go wait in the lounge in a a drug addle haze for two hours before boarding and yay, we get away on time.
Get on the plane and our TA has booked us a window and an aisle seat and a spare in between… usually I book my own flights, but these open jaw flights can’t be easily booked online yourself, so the chickie had allocated us seats with one in between. Give a slightly concerned/piss-off/please-no look to everyone coming down the aisle to claim their seat after we settled and luck went out way – no one in between. So we had a spare seat and a bit of space to stretch out from Brisbane to Dubai. T
hat flight went mostly well, except for the cock up with the food… I’m not one to list down a strong dislike as an allergy, so I never request special meals and it’s never been a problem, you can usually chose something that suits your preferences, but I haven’t flown Emirates since going to Turkey with Dr Nick in 2007 (whoa… I vaguely remember that flight, there was a LOT of alcohol and a very enabling flight attendant named Brad who kept bringing us G&Ts), anyway, capsicum is my kryptonite (that and coriander, but that’s genetic so nothing to be done about that one). Breakfast, consisted of something that was supposed to be scrambled eggs, but was just some sort of salty reconstituted mush, with a little chicken sausage and some soggy potato gems masquerading as ‘hash browns’, was served at 0600. Still groggy, I wasn’t really hungry, so I had a bit of ‘egg’, and ate the fruit and a bad cup of tea and called that, breakfast done. Then around four hours after that, they came around with some little pies – half of them meat, half of them vegetable mornay… took a bit out of the little pie they gave me and it was almost wholly capsicum and went ‘nup’. Asked the flight attendant if I could have one of the other ones, and he said ‘Sure, I’ll be right back.’ I waited about 35mins and all the trash was being whisked away and the guy happened to walk past and see me and said, ‘Sorry, but there were none left.’ Ok whatevs.
Until after many more hours of painfully sitting still – fucking captain must be seriously risk adverse, there was some turbulence but nothing over the top and he had the seatbelt sign on for about 12hrs of the 14hr flight discouraging people from moving around the cabin – and they came to serve ‘dinner’. It was about 1600 our time at this point, so we’d had nothing but a party pie thing since 0600, except juices, water and lemonade, and I didn’t even have one of those. ‘Dinner’ was chicken and mushrooms with ‘grilled Mediterranean vegetables’ (you got it – capsicum), and some weird capsicum brushetta and banana cake… or alternative meal was a lamb biriyani. Rather than risk the capsicum, I asked for the lamb. Different hostie this time said, ‘I am out of lamb atm, but I’ll bring you one right back.’ Oh, here we go. Seriously, 20 mins passes, and I am sitting there thinking, surely they haven’t forgotten me again. By the time they start cleaning up after everyone, I’m hitting the attendant call button and it was being turned off and ignored because they were all busy! Four times, I tried to get someone’s attention. Eventually someone walked past and made eye contact, and I was like ‘Could I please have a meal?’. She looked appalled, and asked what happened, I said the chick was coming back with a lamb dish, she said ‘We are out of lamb.’ FFS. I saw someone going past from the central galley with a huge tray of them, so I asked her to go look. She came back with a meal – of lamb – and then asked if I need anything else… and of course being in a pained and now unusually hangry state, I said ‘No thank you, but could you please send me the cabin manager after I’ve had my dinner.’
Well you can imagine how that conversation went – she was very apologetic, by this time I was over it so I was saying ‘I understand these things happen, but you can’t tell someone you’ll be right back and then forget about them for half an hour – and it really shouldn’t be happening to the same person twice in one flight!’ Blah blah blah, she was appreciative of the feedback and the rest of the staff were very solicitous after that – she ill advisedly gave me a customer feedback card with an email address on it ‘in case I wanted to write to their head office about the matter’, but screw that – I get paid to write consumer complaints these days, so stuffed I can be bothered writing one in my time, and definitely not over airline over food!
Anyway, we get to Dubai, do the transit thing, go through security, throw away a perfectly good unopened bottle of water, and wait about three hours for our connection to Rome. Get on the plane, same seats allocated, and damn but there is someone in the middle seat. We schooch over and they get the aisle and the next six hours are torturous. So much back pain. And how annoying to be climbing over sleeping Chinese woman who won’t get up to let us out. :/
Get to Rome, and think, finally! We are here. There’s supposed to be a driver waiting to take us to the hotel but first, what have we got for you borys?! LOST LUGGAGE! Shit. Stand around the carousel see three bags like mine go past, keep standing around, watching all the people pushing and shoving (those pamphlets the Chinese govt are issuing to tell their burgeoning middle class on, how to be good tourists, are NOT working), as they collect their luggage until eventually no bags left, and the carousel stops. Bugger. Go hunting, find a bunch of other people from Brisbane with missing bags, hope like hell they aren’t stuck in Dubai or worse… and eventually discover that they came off the flight but were left on the tarmac. Wait some more. Nearly an hour from exit plane to collect bag, and I’m thinking, our driver will have fucked off… but no, thankfully he was still there when we got out, and he drove us – in that particularly Italian style that I like to think of as ‘bored Mario Andretti going out for milk’ – to the hotel. We made it around 10pm… and looked out the hotel window and saw:
Which almost, almost, made the nightmare transit worth it. Woke up this morning and it looked even more beautiful… and on a bit of sleep and not being stuck in a seat, the transit is forgotten. Mind you, I have just determined that that is my absolute last long haul flight in cattle class… I’ve never seen the value in not stretching my travel dollars as far as humanly possible, but I am just too broken for this shit.