The earlier blog posts allude to my weekly road trips. They don’t really involve roads, rather planes and it’s a lot of boring flying. I live in one Australian capital city and decide to work in another city. There are some great benefits such as enjoying the lifestyle of a smaller capital city and the pay of a larger state. The work is also interesting, varied and challenging. Always a bonus. My employer is also happy to let me work a compressed week, meaning a 5 day work week in 4 days. The boring bits are mostly around flying between two cities every week. As a bit of an aviation geek this doesn’t exactly offer a whole range of new flighting experiences, there is definitely a routine involved.
A typical week starts on Sunday afternoon with packing of the luggage, definitely hand luggage only. Pop in the work attire, decide if I need some casual clothes for the week, gather the laptop charger, wallet, watch, car keys and set it all up near the front door. Lay out the corporate “uniform”: suit jacket, pants (not necessarily matching), smalls, shoes and belt, but thankfully no tie. Then it’s time to enjoy the evening with the family. Bed by 10pm or 11 pm, or perhaps a coffee at 11 which means bed at midnight. Regardless of the hour I’m mostly up and at ’em 10 minutes before the alarm set for 4 am. Quick shower, throw on the “bag of fruit” and out the door to hit the “frog and toad” by 4:25am.
Monday morning, early, is truly a magnificent time to be on the roads of a smaller Australian capital city. No other cars on the road, all the green lights, set the cruise control and make sure to slow down for the 1 fixed speed camera. All of this means after 17 km I’m driving into the airport carpark about 20 minutes later. A short walk to the terminal, do the security formalities and I’m at an airline lounge when it opens around 5 am.
I fly enough to be able to fairly comfortably get “free” (nothing in life is really free) access to both the Virgin Australia and Qantas lounges. This is the point at which the mystical thing known as “status” comes into play. Status is how the airlines get you to keep handing them money. After 100 flights it is possible to just scrape into the good status area, even when taking the cheapest possible options. That status make it possible to maintain the current flying routine, the small extra comforts of status make it bearable. This means that I’ve got fairly good at finding flights that let me top up that status bank for relatively low cost.
The upshot of all this status nonsense is that I walk into the complimentary lounge to find a coffee waiting for me. At 5 am coffee is about all I really want. There isn’t really that much in the way of breakfast in the lounge; a toasted sandwich if you’re bothered to make it, pancakes out of a packet, or perhaps a hard boiled egg. Skipping the self made breakfast gives time for a quick flick through a newspaper while drinking the coffee. After a little while it’s time to wander out to the airplane to battle the crowds to get on board.
Boarding is another activity where the beast known as status comes into play, this time via priority boarding. Virgin Australia, for all their other faults, have priority boarding perfected. Qantas have priority boarding as a written benefit, but the Qantas staff are mostly indifferent to the whole idea of looking after passengers branded as valuable. Totally agree that it’s not very egalitarian (wankerish even) but this is another of those small things that make the weekly routine bearable – get on with minimum fuss, stow the luggage and sit down. I’m definitely not better than anyone else, I just give Qantas lots of money and I don’t want to be bothered stuffing around week after week.
Once on board a large number of people sleep given the early hour. I’m a sucker for the In Flight Entertainment(IFE), and will switch on a movie if those are available. The competition between Virgin Australia and Qantas means that the number of aircraft with movies is increasing. In fact I think there are only 3 planes left, with Qantas, that don’t have IFE. I’ll save discussion of the relative merits of various versions of IFE for another time. Usually I’ll be 75% into a movie when it’s time to land the plane and get off to work. I’ve developed the bad habit of dropping into the Qantas lounge in Sydney after my flight for a quick coffee. I can’t do that with Virgin Australia. After such formalities it’s time to get the train to work; and then work, work, work – must get in those 40 hours a week. In between work times I crash at a hotel, keeping a bag of essentials in the office. Sometimes, rarely, I sit in a public house and type away at this blog. I’ve also been known to catch up with some other frequent flyer types mid week.
In general, the working week turns into a blur and soon enough it’s Thursday afternoon, AKA home time. The target is to leave work at about 5:30pm to end up at the airport no later than 7 pm via a random combination of walking or buses and the train. Back into that mystical lounge for a beer and airline food, but more importantly wifi and a nice seat, to end up arriving at home around 10:30 pm. It’s not a pretty schedule, but it keeps me off the streets. Friday morning rolls around and the weekend begins with me driving the kids to school, followed by picking them up and enjoying time with the family. Oh and possibly checking a few emails on Friday. Get to Sunday afternoon – rinse and repeat.