As I have mentioned before in this forum, NZ
commuter flights on a Friday are usually interesting.
I was booked Qantas QF
4054, allegedly leaving at 19:30 but as the Tui posters say....”yeah right”.
The previous two days had been murderously busy, I had left the comfort of my bed at 5am on Thursday for an early flight AKL
, spent the day in negotiations with a govt department that left me wondering just how the hell we were going to survive the next 18 months and ended up drinking far too much in a Turkish Restaurant.
I was woken in the dead of night by a text from a Maori mate who was asking if my family were OK
, I phoned her straight away and she told me to turn the TV
on in my motel room, the scene wasn’t pretty…………I was witnessing what will now be known in London as 7/7.
Horrified I noted that the station used by the adorable Miss Watson was one of the ones bombed, on top of that we had just sent two members of our team to London and most of my old UK team use the tube, I didn’t get much sleep as I tried to tack them all down, starting with Miss Watson.
Forgive the digression but it is all background to how I ended up sitting with a bunch of Somalian refugees in a school in Wellington, feeling so badly “commuter-lagged” that I was unsure if I had the energy to drive the hire car back to the airport.
I went to check-in and asked the FA
if everything was running smoothly:
“Day from hell” she replied and rolled her eyes, my colleague and I shoved our bags on the conveyor and I asked if I could have my old flight tag back (I have a superstition about where these go to be disposed of) her look of disbelief made me drop the subject………
We had 45 mins until boarding and as usual eating at WLG
always promises far more than it delivers, I will eat almost anything when on the road but KW
’s minging burger looked fit only for the bin and my pasta was cold but too weary to argue I shovelled it down and followed it with freshly-squeezed orange juice on the premise that it would do me some good, at this point in the day coffee would not help one little bit.
After sorting out some budget anomalies that were eating away at KW
we wandered into lounge 21 to await our fate…didn’t take more than a few seconds to learn that the incoming was delayed and we would be 30 mins late getting away.
By this time I was ready to sleep on the floor if the delay was going to extend but as usual, people- watching became the sport of the day and I idly constructed lives and identities for the assembled throng, deciding who I would search if I was a customs officer and who I would chat up if I were single, sad I know but Friday night commuter burn-out does tend to scramble the brain a bit.
I was pleased to see that the guy on the security desk was disabled, good to see integration and non-discrimination going on in the Air NZ
workforce, he was no less efficient than any one else (and better at the job than some I have encountered) so I was beginning to feel good at signs that society may actually be getting the message.
Boarding time arrived and I was about 4th on the a/c, tucked into 19F, good old Qantas, headphones to use and the promise of a pie but I was yawning so hard it made tears run down my cheeks so I apologised to KW
, who had drawn 19E and curled up ready for slumber.
Take-off was the usual QF
hooliganism, stand the bugger (733) on its tail and get out of WLG
Lower Hutt looks quite pretty by night, nestling in the valley, flanked by the river on one side and the yearnings of developers on the other, cloud rapidly blurred the view, the captain announced 32,000 feet as our cruise altitude and warned us of “bumps” en route.
The next few minutes I cannot account for as the gentle swaying of the a/c lulled me into sleep, I was jerked awake by some fairly “slap, bang” turbulence and then fell asleep again.
I think I have slept nearly every WLG
leg I have ever flown!
I became aware of more turbulence, things were rattling and swaying inside the a/c and I felt KW
poke me on the shoulder.
“Can you reassure this young lady that this is normal please?”
I looked over to 19D; a very pretty young Polynesian Girl in “Management Trainee” uniform was not looking especially comfortable.
“Yeah, its fine, this is nothing, its when they ask the FA
’s to strap in during the flight that you know you’re in for a shocker but even so, the design limits for how far the wings can bend would surprise you and if you saw how much further than that they can bend before damage you would feel much safer, they really can take a hammering, you would probably break your arm before the plane got bent in any way.”
“Oh, I feel better now, I sat by the wing on the way down and nobody told me they bend and flex or even (look of horror) that the engines wobble!!!!!”
“You’ll be fine, it helps to know what’s meant to happen.”
kept her amused for the remaining 20 mins and much girly chatter and laughing penetrated my fitful slumbers, I did notice the conversation become slightly more intense as we started our descent, these QF
pilots are a bit “gung ho” sometimes and we did seem to be hurtling ground wards at a fairly steep angle!
looked its usual neon “bling, bling” self as we nestled into short finals, the landing was a greaser and we bade farewell to our new friend.
I was last off the plane as is often the case, (I like to sit near the back) and KW
and I muscled our way into ambush range of the conveyer in baggage-claim.
Eventually everybody (including KW
) had left, the conveyor stopped and I was still a bag short…..
As if by magic a QF
ground person wafted over and raised an eyebrow…
“Follow me sir.”
He was most helpful and took my details, I was very understanding and made it home before I fell asleep again.
It took well into the next day before my bag turned up, QF
had expected it to have gone onto another flight to somewhere or other but it had fallen off and underneath the conveyor at WLG
, no doubt perplexing the security staff who found it as it contained nothing but wires, cables and a remote control device for my datashow, probably a bit bomb-like for the guy (or girl) who found it but it was rushed to my house just in time for the rugby…Go the All-Blacks!!!!!!!
We, the undersigned, do hereby consent.....