“Let me show you Sir.” “Just punch in your flight number and the machine will print your boarding passes, Sir.” A friendly traffic cone breasted Virgin-Air attendant was showing me the ropes on IT travel etiquette. I had felt elated being internet savvy enough to book the three returns Sydney –Melbourne a few days earlier. The booking form appeared reasonably simple and just wanted the basics, name address etc. It’s funny but when something involves payment to others it is surprising how creamy smooth things can work out on the internet. In no time the envelope with ‘payment by credit card’ appeared with ‘this will take just 45 seconds’. Forty five seconds later I had coughed up a hearty $ 830. – including $ 27. – Credit card surcharge and another $ 76. – GST. No mention of any of that when filling out the booking form. Why the Credit card surcharge? Creamy-delights for the airlines alright.
The velocity membership imbroglio I’ll save for another article. Apparently you get points which you can use for shopping. Shopping and plane travel are so interwoven, I wonder if they are not the same. At each step travelers are tempted to connect wallet to an electronic remote suction device. They are all into it and shopkeepers are specially picked for their gleaming white teeth and hypnotically affirmative nodding heads nudging those that obstinately remain hesitant towards parting with the mulla. I can somewhat understand shopping at the tax free international travel section, but Sydney-Melbourne? What is at work here?
The first thing to notice is the nervous tension and excitement amongst those that frequent airports. No form of travel can compare. The wait for the local 401 bus to Balmain that might take an hour to get to your destination is conducive to a quick nap or endless yawning, the opposite of excitement.
Nothing like that at an airport. There is a crackling of nervous expectations. People are on edge and running. That is exactly the entrapment enticement to be exploited. The way out is to quickly stop and shop. It gives relief and content to what we feel life is about, especially life on the move, in transit and at that moment. Shopping is life lived at its fullest at any airport, even if it only involves a $ 2.80 bottle of water.
Once the plane refs up its engines to the max, just before take-off, it only confirms that having shopped works as the perfect placebo calming frayed nerves with the tensioning of the solar plexus being eased when contemplating the plastic bagged goodies stowed just overhead…
On our return flight one upward-pointed nosed woman was so loaded up even her fellow passengers overhead travel storage had to be taken up. Bag after bag was pushed overhead. The lid could hardly close. Each time it was pushed down some other item would bulge out. The owner of those bags was chortling with delight and her bovine boyfriend just kind of smiled giving knowing looks at the Virgin flight attendant. She understood.
The plane cruised around aimlessly with the cheery captain telling us there were many behind ours queuing up to land at Sydney. They had priority and we would be about twenty minutes flying around a bit here and there. I could not help but hope all those queuing planes would not bump into each other during mid-flight.
Perhaps I should have done a solid shop myself, ease the nerves.