I am at that tiresome point in life where suddenly there is a compulsion to bemoan the dearth of quality made *insert item here * to all and sundry. It is entirely possible that we are chronologically predisposed to yearn for the durability, workmanship, quantity, service etc… from youthful days of yore and feel outraged by a new generations flagrant disregard of such.
Or maybe it is merely indicative of my continuing devolution into misanthropy.
But while I’m on it let me tell you that spouse and I flew to the Coathanger city recently with Tiger, which, if it were indeed a homegrown airline, could rightly be named Little Aussie Battler Air. For there you are in a shed to the extreme left of Melbourne Airport, herded amongst the other carry-on baggage toting passengers thinking to yourself, you bloody little ripper, how cheap’s this?
Let me tell you, you get exactly what you pay for.
“Any scissors, sharp objects, aerosols?” intones the Tiger security screener to a lumpen chap ahead of me.
Oh, how we all chortle.
There are two Tiger employees, characterized by a tellingly frazzled demeanour, frantically processing passengers trying to sneak through more than the requisite 7kg of carry on. The line to check-in is littered with crouching weekend travellers forced to discard excess Ugg boots
and cans of Lynx.
After a lot of milling around in the departure area, the flight is eventually called and a disorderly queue forms directly in front of the door. There is a tacit understanding amongst the more seasoned budget travellers that overhead luggage space is at a premium – it’s the quick or the dead.
The same two Tiger employee’s dash across from the check in desk to sight our boarding passes ahead of the long tarmac trek to the plane. It appears to be parked several kilometres from the airport and goes someway to explaining the rush on fried dim sims, doughnuts and chocolate bars – clearly sustenance is required for this arduous part of the journey.
Eventually we are all seated and space is found for every overnight bag, backpack, sleeping bag, rucksack, red, white and blue stripy shopping bag and chicken cage. Our knees are comfortably ensconced under our chins and we have all ignored the safety demonstration.
Our scheduled 3.30pm flight taxis out at 4.10pm. In that time I am privy to the relentless commentary of a five year old with the precocity of a young Macauley Culkin combined with Karen from Outnumbered. His incessant ADHD-esque observations are accompanied by the excitable and non-stop kicking of his lively little feet into the seat back.
Once we became airborne the chap in front of me clearly feels the immense strain of remaining upright for an entire hour and, in a bid to replicate his Jason recliner, forces the seat back as far as humanly possible. My magazine is crushed under his headrest.
It is a fairly long hour… what with the chest compression and the rear assault on my lower back.
Despite the brevity of our flight many people having eaten, digested and metabolized their departure lounge snacks, feel compelled to enjoy a packet of something salty with their Jim Beam and Coke’s – and why in the name of the Bathurst 1000 not?
No sooner has the last can been crushed than we are instructed to make sure our seat belts are fastened, tray tables up and seat backs in the upright position. The tingling in my extremities gradually abates as we taxi along the runway and people begin flinging off their seatbelts. Those of us not in an aisle seat, assume that curious semi crouching stance wedged beneath the overhead lockers feeling unaccountably tense.
The rush to disembark suggests a deployed time bomb and one of the flight attendants looks genuinely aggrieved at our haste, which makes absolutely no sense given her total ambivalence to our combined presence for the entire preceding hour.
It’s not personal (check name badge) Sharelle. It’s not your fault this is the Black and Gold (orange) of airlines and your uniform looks like it came from Big W. Given a choice, I’m sure you would love to slip into the retro red polyester Virgin uniform and I’m sorry your reluctance to perform a Spice Girls song at the Virgin group interview eliminated you from the running, but there you go. This is your world, Gen Y…
Oh dear, I’m at it again, aren’t I?