I’ve been doing quite a bit of travelling recently, which has prompted a few thoughts. In no particular order.
1. In Melbourne airport, one of the things you notice when moving from the Qantas terminal to the Virgin Blue terminal is the absence of water fountains. And in a move reminiscent of the way inner city nightclubs behaved when ecstasy first hit the market, they’ve also ensured that there’s no cold water available in the bathrooms either. I’m pretty sure that there were water fountains in that terminal when Ansett operated it, so am mildly surprised that Virgin went to the trouble of taking them out.
2. If I could only break up one monopoly in Australia, it would be Canberra Cabs. When I called them last Friday morning to ask why my airport taxi was 10 minute late, the cheery voice said “Oh yes, we lost all last night’s bookings. What was your address again?”. If they had competitors, stuff-ups like this might affect their bottom line. But they don’t, so it won’t.
3. It’s quite bizarre to visit American airports, and be asked to take your shoes off. Someone should write a paper called “The Deadweight Cost of Richard Reid”, in which they estimate the annual productivity loss to the US of this policy. If they’re especially bold, they’ll then compare that dollar figure to PVC, where P=chance that a shoe bomb could bring down a plane, V=the estimated value of a statistical life, and C=carrying capacity of a typical airliner.
4. When I’m doing a weekend trip, I often get frustrated at the stringent limits on carry-on luggage that the Australian airlines impose. But I’ve now developed a new appreciation for the policy. US airlines are much more lax, and the result is lots of jostling among passengers to be first on the plane and claim an overhead locker, followed byÂ angry words and cross looks from those who fail to get a space. The Australian policy does make for a more tranquil start to the flight.
5. TheÂ best thing about an exit row is the legroom. The second-best thing is the company. You’re always next to frequent travellers – a big plus on a long-haul flight.
6. Normally, I get through a few books in a trip to and from the US. This time, my only achievement was Ian McEwen’s Atonement (highly recommended). So in place of a bunch of book comments, I offer the followingÂ United movie reviews (out of 5)
- Chronicles of Narnia ***
- Rumour Has It ***
- Nanny McPhee **
- Fantastic FourÂ *
- Aeon Flux *