Our day began at 4.15 am. We wanted an early start so we wouldn’t get caught up in too much traffic and if we did, we would still have plenty of time to be at the Airport for our scheduled flight.
A quick shower, a bite to eat and a cup of tea was sufficient to animate sleepy body and brain.
Our bags lined up by the door, solidly packed with warm winter woollies and thermal underwear. I was overly impressed with my new big suitcase. It extended endlessly to fit in whatever wouldn’t fit elsewhere. Thanks Mum.
Mark was our chauffer. We were on the road by 6am.
Singing to the Satori Sol CD all the way to Brisbane was fun. What the girls claimed to be that crap CD, “Why did you bring that?” turned out to be a lot of laughs and really cool, “Play that song again dad.”
“I know I’m not the greatest rapper in the world, but please please baby will you be my girl?”
Mark delivered Melanie, Jessica, Jason and I to Brisbane Airport at 7.15 am. We had a trouble free run, arriving much earlier than expected which left me with no reason to stress.
Oh no! We have to get our boarding passes from this new high tec machine. Phew! Jessica does it with ease. It wasn’t that hard, it just seemed like it was going to be.
I really needed to go to the ladies. My stomach had felt queasy all morning. But I wanted to get the bags checked in, and then we could relax.
No ID, really. Because we had already acquired our boarding passes we didn’t need to prove who we were. What happened to all the tight security? How do they know we are who we say we are?
With our bags checked in I was free to race to the ladies. Nerves! Was I nervous because I was taking the girls on a holiday on my own? In the couple of weeks leading up to the holiday I had wished Mark was tagging along. I even tried to give Rebecca my ticket so she could take them and have the snow trip. I didn’t mind if I didn’t go. After all I did go to the snow when I was fourteen. Been there, done that. Melanie wanted me to go. They wouldn’t change names of bookings and the flight was booked out. So that left me in and Rebecca out. I was destined to go.
I wasn’t looking forward to the cold change in climate, I’d be freezing and it wasn’t Italy. I really wanted to go to Italy. But the girls wanted to go to the snow. They hadn’t seen the snow. They were excited. The unselfish thing to do was take the girls to the snow. Melanie’s wish was to go to the snow for her birthday and Mark and I were granting that wish.
Coffee! Ahh…It felt good to relax at last. We weren’t boarding the plane until 8.20 so there was time to sit and get more excited. Melanie and I sat together while Jessica and Jason went wandering for food. Probably McDonalds. “Don’t eat too much, we’ll be served breakfast on the plane.”
When they returned we headed down to our boarding gate to wait there, eager to be on our way, but what’s this? Our plane was meant to be taking off at 8.50 am. There has been a delay and we are not boarding now, until 10.30 am.
Ok, we could handle that. Not much we can do about it. I read my book to fill in time and a run to the ladies every now and then helped. Jason seemed to visit the men’s just as often.
There were announcements’ over the loud speaker constantly advising of delayed flights. The group of men near by cheered when their flight was delayed. It meant they wouldn’t have to go to work that day and they headed off for a beer.
Hanging around Brisbane airport was not an exciting event. We had been looking forward to spending two hours shopping at Melbourne Airport, while we had waited for our connecting flight. That wasn’t going to happen.
“Flight…..to Melbourne has been further delayed. It will not be departing until 12.25pm.” This had become serious. I had to find out at Information desk about our QantasLink flight. We weren’t going to be in Melbourne in time and I made it quite clear I had booked with Qantas because of this reason. So they would be definitely holding this flight. Right!
“We don’t know yet, but there are eleven passengers on board for that flight so they should hold it. QantasLink is a private company, but we will find out what is happening and keep you informed.”
Well that’s just great, so much for a lovely afternoon checking out Mount Hotham. This holiday was turning out all wrong.
Jessica and Jason went walk about. “Don’t eat too much we’ll be served lunch on the plane,” I advised.
Melanie sat on my knee and annoyed me while I tried to read. She did some videoing.
Jessica and Jason finally came back with a story of a very fat lady who fell over and bounced back up, hoping no-one had noticed. “I wish I’d had the video camera,” she laughed, “It was so funny.” Poor lady, but we did need some entertainment, anything to give us a laugh and stop us from complaining.
Oh no! Melanie ran over to put rubbish in the bin and slipped over on the way back and it wasn’t captured on video either. Melanie was crying. Jessica and Jason were laughing. I was trying not to do either.
We were standing at the gate at 2.15pm. We wanted to be first in line. We wanted to be on that plane. We weren’t quite over our theories about why the plane had been delayed. A terrorist, a suspected bomb were the obvious scenarios.
At 2.35pm we were boarding our plane with the reassurance that our plane would most probably have been held. We were looking forward to lunch. Eager to be buckled in and taking off.
That’s lunch! A couple of tiny cakes and half a cup of tea! Jessica gave me one of hers and thank goodness the flight attendant offered another packet. But I really would have loved another cup of tea. I had saved myself for breakfast and then for lunch and now all I’d had was afternoon tea. I was disappointed. Everything was going wrong.
“Great lunch mum. Don’t eat much you’ll be having lunch on the plane, good one mum.”
Pilot hadn’t mentioned our plight. We still didn’t know our fate. Eventually, after an exceedingly long pause. “People on QantasLink flight…go straight to information desk.”
The cabin crew bid us farewell and wished us luck with our flight. We gathered with the other seven passengers and headed to the information counter to be told that. “No, we haven’t held your flight. You are to meet the manager and he will instruct you of the arrangements that have been made.”
None of us were impressed. We had just spent nearly five and a half hours waiting for a flight and they couldn’t hold that flight up for one measly hour.
We felt that Qantas had really let us down. We found out that ice on the runway had delayed the planes that morning, which was out of their control. It wasn’t the waiting that bothered us, that couldn’t be avoided, that was nature that was life. It’s part of the hiccups along the way that makes a holiday unique. That was absolutely acceptable. We found out that Brisbane airport knew that they hadn’t held our connecting flight. They hadn’t had the guts to tell us. That was slack because we could have been put on a Sydney flight and then onto a connection to Melbourne one lady said. That was true.
We had, of course been keeping Mark informed of our progress. So again I was advising him that we were being given food vouchers to buy dinner. We had to be quick because we had to be in a cab and at the coach stop by 5.30. We were going on a six hour coach trip to Mount Hotham. We had payed a lot of money for our fifty minute flight to Mount Hotham Airport. Twenty minutes later we would have arrived at our destination on our transfer coach.
Now we would be arriving at Arlberge Hotham Resort just before midnight.
I was practically in tears by then. Our weekend trip was being reduced. My complaint to the manager fell on deaf ears. Mark said leave it to him, he’ll sort it out.
It was difficult to choose what to buy for dinner. We went around in circles, there wasn’t a great deal of appetising food to choose from. I really needed a good meal. I felt miserable. I felt rushed and I felt disappointed.
Jason opted for Hungry Jack’s. Jessica ate pasta. Mel nibbled on hot chips and I finally chose chicken and vegetable wok tossed hokien noodles. It was delicious. It was satisfying. But it was rushed. I gulped down what I could and didn’t have time to finish.
I grabbed my cup of tea and the luggage and raced with our new found companions to the Taxi rank. There was a long line. It added to our stress because we didn’t want to miss the coach. We’d be doomed.
We’d had so much time to fill; now we had so little. Every minute counted.
The other group ducked under the railing in a panic and jumped the queue and grabbed the Maxi Taxi. We looked at the queue ahead of us. We were in panic mode too.
Thankfully heaps of taxis were arriving and the queue died down quickly and soon we were whisked away in our own maxi taxi. Not before the driver instructed me to leave my tea behind. I begged him to let me take it. It was still boiling hot, and I hadn’t drunk any yet. I promised not to drink any while I was in his taxi. I really needed that cup of tea.
He was sympathetic to our predicament and told us we should have demanded to have been put straight into a taxi and driven directly to Mount Hotham. It would have saved us heaps of time.
I was having severe problems with my seat belt. Too short, couldn’t adjust it because it was caught. I tried sucking in. I could picture it, severe accident, killed because not wearing seat belt. I somehow managed to buckle it. Phew!
“So it’s your first time in Melbourne?” the driver was saying.
He became our tourist guide.
Trams! We had never seen trams before.
Hospitals! The place where the Olympic Games participants stayed, the lovely old buildings and China Town.
We arrived at the bus station with ample time to transfer chocolate and other edible goodies into our carry on luggage and took heaps of Snap shots.
Finally we got comfortable in the coach as darkness melted across the sky.
The uphill journey seemed endless, but with every turn of the wheel we were closer to Mount Hotham. In the mean time Mark had sorted out Qantas and changed our flights home for a day later and booked us an extra night at our resort.
We were feeling a lot better although sleepy.
When the coach came to a halt outside Arlberge Hotham well passed midnight and our shoes sank into the frosty white snow and translucent light shimmered across the pathway we knew every moment we waited had been worth it. Getting there was half the fun.
© Kerrie Ireland – All Rights Reserved