Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Home again

When you check into the Emirates lounge at Dubai and the person at the counter says ‘your gate number will be 125’ and writes this on your boarding pass you would be a fool to take her word for it – but I did.

It seemed to get very lonely going towards gate 125. There were no longer any shops – or people – or airport staff – just the occasional cleaner. I eventually came to the end of the airport – to what seemed to be a kind of Bedouin camp – with people sitting around on rugs. I am sure there were goats and campfires and children playing in the dust. There were no airplanes.

I realised immediately that the Emirates woman had spotted me for the email troublemaker and had been pulling my chain. The nearest screen showing the correct gate was about ten minutes walk away and the correct gate – 219 – was at the opposite end of the airport – a very long way away indeed. 

One should never watch people eating in airports. But when you are there for five hours and you have just read conflicting reports that Brad and Angelina are (a) deliriously happy and planning on adopting another phalanx of dusty orphans or (b) at each others throats and can’t wait to separate – you lose focus and cast your eye around for distractions.

In my case you see a raucous Australian maiden munching scrambled eggs and baked beans while playing with her iPad and talking loudly on her iPhone to her BF back home.

The conversation is hilarious and each bout of hilarity brings forth a spray of scrambled eggs. The conversation is not so good that she will stop eating.

A cough of laughter sends a baked bean zinging past me like a rocket propelled grenade - to embed itself into the potted palm. I hope her iPad is equipped with windscreen wipers or she has a Wettex in her purse.

At a table further on there is an Eastern European lady built like a London bus – with an upper deck to match – who is trying to eat her own weight in pasta. She is not trying to do anything else as this requires her full attention. I am tempted to see if I can find her a larger eating implement – the one she has seems so puny and so not up to the task.

Her fat son – who is using an iPad with his left hand – is trying to break the world record for cramming the most number of croissants simultaneously into his mouth.

His  mouth is open so wide his eyes are like saucers. I think he has forgotten that he has to chew. Actually I really don’t think he could possibly chew. I think he will have to be like a python devouring a very large animal and just engorge them and let them dissolve on the way to Minsk – and over the next months or so.

The daughter – who is going to look just like her mother – and much sooner than she would like - is eating – although that is not really the right word – a plate of cake. Let me put it like this. She is moving a pile of cake from a plate into her stomach. It is not something I would ever like to see again.

Why is it that there is always – ALWAYS – someone on every flight who checks in and then vanishes. Where do they go?

Every time I get on an airplane there is an announcement that we are waiting for ‘a missing passenger’.

Sometimes ‘the missing passenger’ does not turn up and they have to find the bags.

Do they perhaps check in and then forget why they are at the airport and go to the supermarket to do the weekend shopping? It beats the shit out of me. 

Quite often I have been on planes when the passenger never turns up at all and I have to wait while they rat through the baggage compartment to find the bag and remove it. What is that about. Why would you check in and not get on the flight?

Oh you’re home early dear did you decide not to go?

Go where?

To visit your mum darling – you were going to visit your mum. Where is your suitcase?


Oh but I see you got some milk and eggs. 

Today’s ‘missing people’ turned up 20 minutes late – gasping and panting. Maybe they checked in and then decided to take in a movie. 

I am in a Business Class cabin with 28 seats. There are four people in here. We are doing meal selections – I am the second one asked.

I ask for the seafood medley and they tell me it's no longer available. The man who was asked first did not have it. He had the chicken.

Well I know the medley is a swimming event – maybe it all swam up to first class.

I am happy with the lamb.

I am home again. The cats are very pleased to see me.


  1. I thought it unlikely that your return flight would be uneventful and loved the image of the top deck!

    Am glad the cats were welcoming and I'm sure Cate will be glad to see you when she returns.

  2. I never see people eating in airports; I'm always in the bar.

  3. Glad to have you back home again, by the way. I don't know why it feels different since I'm in the States, but it does.

  4. Jim says:

    Didn't you know that 'missing passenger(s)' is code for 'the starboard engine won't start'?

  5. "You can't get here from there" ... or some variation of that. I haven't flown in about two years so I probably don't know what I'm not missing.

  6. "Gate 125" is destined to become a geflügeltes Wort!
    Anyway, glad you made it, welcome back! :-)

  7. Annie: It was a sight to behold. The cats have not given me a moments peace.

    SK Waller: The best place to be. It's different because I am closer to you.

    Annie: He hasn't flown since planes had propellers and two wings.

    esbboston: You are not missing anything.

    Merisi: I feel like I have been away forever.

  8. The Mysterious Missing Passenger! I've always wondered about that, too. And you're right, they always show up, out of breath, 15 minutes after everyone has been sitting in their seats ready to go.

    Do you really think of Vienna as "home"?

  9. mate- this is SOOOOO funny.. its why I only fly cathay pacific... on my neighbours recommendation...and he is a senior pilot for qantas

  10. smedette: Yes - Vienna is now home. Strange but true.

    Simon: Thanks. WE don't get too many options.