Monday, September 4, 2006

Airline Restrictions

Despite all the stuff we sold, gave away, threw away, and sent in boxes to Turkey ... we still had overloaded suitcases to travel back to Oz with. And we were not totally sure how (if at all) the new security measures would affect us.

As we arrived in Shanghai in the pouring rain, the departure boards were full of delayed and cancelled flights from Shanghai to Hong Kong - where we were to catch a connecting flight to Perth. At the Dragon Air counter there was a huge queue, and as a result we ended up getting shunted into "the Elite" channel where there was no one waiting. Maybe this was why they paid no attention to our overweight luggage or the number and sizes of our carry-on baggage (even though there was a sign warning that the limit for hand baggage was 5kg). The attendant was too busily engaged instead getting us booked onto a different flight, because ours had in fact been delayed.

We practically flew through customs and security, no questions asked. The new plane was also delayed, but only by a few minutes, and the gate number was changed after we had waited for a few minutes - but that didn't phase us.

The flight to Hong Kong was uneventful. We went to the transfer desk and got our seat allocation for the flight to Perth - Row 59! Phew, must be a full plane for us to be that far towards the back. Usually a bumpier ride, but theoretically safer ... and easier to reach the loo when you need to etc. But the departure lounge was half empty. And then when we got on the plane and pushed our way through the people stuffing their baggage into the overhead lockers at the front of the plane and made it to the back section, we were the only ones there. We laughingly asked one of the attendants what we had done wrong, why we were banished to the back all alone ... and he told us they were just balancing the weight in the plane.

How rude!

But then he told us that we should be ready when the seat-belt sign went off because there would be an unholy rush for the empty 3- and 4-seat rows, which we were closest to. Sure enough, with our hands ready on our seat buckles, we were the first to jump into the empty rows, and ended having a good sleep on the 7-hour flight down to Perth.

At Perth airport things were very casual - there wasn't even a quarantine beagle on duty sniffing bags. Once again no one asked questions or wanted us to open bags, and we were through in a jiffy.

I hope the flight to Turkey in four weeks will be as easy.