I like to think that I'm a pretty good traveller. Okay, I could pack lighter and be a little less anal about a few things like hotel cleanliness and personal security, but on the whole, I'm pretty good. You find me somewhere in the middle of the plane queue, book and passport in hand, Fisherman's Friends in my pocket greeting the cabin crew with a smile. I'm not carting three pieces of hand luggage to avoid check in costs. I'm not pissed. I don't have every bit of travel paraphernalia known to man in my grips.
I'm the pleasant traveller and I intend to keep it that way.
This trip, I've seen another side to travel. The Angry Bogan Traveller.
It's not pretty.
See, my flight to Bali was been cancelled due to engineering issues last night and postponed the flight to today. Disappointing, but not the end of the world. Rather be on the ground alive than in a plane that falls out of the sky.
Yesterday after a lovely lunch with a friend, I made my way to the airport, checked in, went through immigration and customs, did some duty free shopping and made my way to the Qantas Lounge. Here I poured myself a G&T and a Bloody Mary (Free booze, why not, the tomato juice is all about electrolytes which counteracts the alcohol). Setting up in a quiet part of the lounge, I wrote a blog post, read my book and relaxed. It was lovely. By 5 pm, it was apparent that things weren't going to plan, and by 6.30, an hour after the flight was supposed to be gone, things weren't looking good.
In the lounge, a woman asked me if I was on my way to Bali as well. Indeed, I was. She told me to get myself another Bloody Mary and chill, we might have some news soon. She'd just checked with the desk. She was on the 5.35 to Denpasar as well.
I think I counted two G&Ts and three Bloody Marys under my belt by the time we were told that the flight was cancelled. Nicely chilled but not too far gone. My Qantas lounge companions, Paul and Zara, a couple from Byron Bay, came with me to the gate. This is where we first encountered the angry bogans.
My view on cancelled flights is this. I'd rather be on the ground than on a plane that's falling out of the sky. The airline fulfilled their commitments by putting me up and feeding me for the night. I'll claim a night's accommodation in Bali on my travel insurance. The rest, well, shit happens.
I'm more miffed that I didn't get an extra Qantas Club pass and now I'm writing this from a cafe with the general rabble (did find a power outlet however so I can watch movies on the way up to Denpasar). I'm also annoyed that I won't get to Sound Healing at the Yoga Barn tonight.
But as I said, shit happens. First world problems. Build a bridge and get over it. Can't change what's going on.
The Qantas Lounge was a godsend. Quiet, serene, filled with lovely gin and abundant power outlets for you laptop and phone to juice up from. We missed having to sit with the bogans at the gate pondering the tattoo choices of the great unwashed while waiting for the plane.
In defense of some of the bogan's behaviour, the intial communication was pretty crap last night. I will be writing to Jetstar about this as nobody appeared to know what was going on for a long time. There were a couple of men yelling at the desk staff. Like what were they supposed to do?
Paul, Zara and I gathered a few more 'normal' looking people, trying to work out what was going on. I volunteered to ask at the desk. When I got there, the girl looked stressed and scared.
"It's okay, I'm not angry. Just trying to work out what's going on. I'm too munged out on Qantas free gin to mind anyway."
The girl slumped her shoulders and thanked me for being nice before explaining that Jetstar would put us up for the night, provide hotel transfers, meals and the like. They were going to take us through customs and immigration and sort us out at the other end.
I took this information back to to the group. All was fine.
An hour later, bag in hand, through immigration, the group waited around, not a Jetstar representative in sight. This was the failing of the company, indeed. Nobody knew where to go or what to do.
Again, the angry bogans started up again. One guy was yelling at us to storm the Jetstar office the next day. Another fellow was taking photos of everybody and everything. The Federal Police Officers who cruise the airport asked him to stop, when he didn't they took his details. And fair enough. He was acting like a complete dick.
In the end, the group of us, with the help of the Feds, got a Jetstar rep to come up. According to him, they were organising rooms for us and the flight would go tomorrow. The bogans kept up with the shouting. They wanted compensation. They wanted action. They wanted food.
Like shut up already!
Rather than shouting, I stayed in line, spoke to the girl at the desk who arranged my room and thanked me for my understanding. The security guard thanked me too, just for being pleasant and accomodating.
I find it strange that people don't treat service staff with a modicum of respect. Like what is a person on the ground supposed to do? They don't have a magic wand that will make the flight go.
Yes, it was 10 pm before I was dropped off at the Stanford Plaza hotel with my new travelling companions Piet and Cori from Rotterdam (got to play translator for them. Australians talk fast you know.) The room service club sandwich dinner was more than fine, the room more than comfortable.
Checking in this afternoon was a non-event. I spoke to the supervisor to ask if I could put my big bag through - we were both trying to dodge the angry bogans who were still shouting at the girl on the desk demanding compensation.
The woman who checked me in was great. The litre bottle of Tanqueray 10 purchased yesterday had to be stowed in my luggage. I'm in the same seat as yesterday. They've waved the fact my bag is now a kilogram over the weight limit no worries at all.
I passed the angry bogans again. The desk supervisor called me over.
"Ask this lady how badly you've been treated." she told them.
The bogans looked at me, somewhat perplexed.
"Did you get a room for the night?" I asked them.
"Your meals were paid for?" I asked.
"Okay, the communication was crap last night and I'll be writing to Jetstar about it cos it was a shambles."
"The guy who drove the bus damaged my bag." One woman wailed.
"They made us wait two hours without telling us anything." moaned another.
"I have a wedding to get to tomorrow." said another.
I thought about this.
"Okay, you'll get to your wedding. They made us wait two hours - so what, we're on holiday. As for your bag, claim it on your travel insurance. I'll be claiming a night's accommodation in Bali on my insurance. That's what you have it for."
The woman looked sheepish.
"You do have travel insurance?" I asked her.
"Well..." she shrugged.
"The way I see it, if you don't have travel insurance, that's you're own fault. Stop trying to blame others for your own fucking stupidity. If you can't afford travel insurance you can't afford to travel. Simple. " With that I walked off to the customs desk.
It's really unfortunate that I had to witness the "Ugly Australian Traveller" in full flight. Stuff does happen that's out of your control. Flights get delayed and cancelled, but on the whole, you're compensated somewhat. It's not like we're flying Tiger Airlines where you get next to nothing back, no assistance, nothing for cancelled or delayed flights.
I found an apology letter and a $25 voucher from Jetstar in my email inbox this morning. I'm fine with that. It's a budget carrier, it's better than nothing. A gesture of good will. The night at the Stanford Grand, dinner and breakfast was enough for me anyway. Other than the lack of communication last night, I've got no issue with them.
Our charming government is on about the fact that the age of entitlement is over. Bless them.
Maybe somebody should explain to the angry bogan travellers that the a little bit of civility, patience and commonsense will make life better for everybody. That, and you're certainly not entitled to anything if you don't have travel insurance when you go overseas. Also, if you treat ground staff like your personal flogging post, you again lose all entitlements to be treated with respect. I have a feeling, just for being pleasant and understanding to the girl at the desk I was offered a nicer hotel room. I noticed that none of the angry bogans were staying where I was stayed.
Okay, rant over. I have a plane to catch.
Passport, check. Wallet, check. Phone and iPad juiced up, check. Gin and tonic, drained (just one - no free Qantas booze today).
Right, let's see if I can get on this plane and get to my own patch of paradise tonight.