Don’t get me wrong. Over the last two years, as a foreign affairs portfolio holder in the Gillard Government, my work has been rewarding and exciting. It has been easily the best professional experience of my life.
But the extensive travel makes me miss my family… a lot.
In those same two years (and not by choice), airports and aeroplanes have become a lonely home. My aim is to get in and out of them as quickly as possible and mitigate the number of hours they take away from life.
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Passengers will soon be able to watch live television, make phone calls and use the internet in the skies. Boeing has announced it will offer the options on its new 787 Dreamliner and flagship 747-8 Intercontinental planes as soon as 2013.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
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Planes can be a serene, encapsulated escape of their own. No phone, no email, and a beautifully coiffed person to bring you drinks. You’re suspended in time and space.
Of course, they’re also filthy bacteria recyclers, where you’re at risk of being cropdusted by a gaseous fellow passenger, of being sweated or drooled on by strangers. There’s a creepy sort of intimacy.
But in general, I love to fly. I even have special plane underwear (seam and underwire-free). I enjoy shopping for mini travel-sized products, I’ve perfected the art of packing hand luggage so I’m prepared for any situation, and I use flying as an excuse for unhealthy behaviour such as reading trashy magazines and drinking spirits before midday.
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Aeroplanes will always be a mystery to me. Every time I see one sailing smoothly through the clouds, I wonder how this thing - this giant lump of hollow steel filled with rumpled clothes and people and vacuum-sealed trays of “braised lamb and mushrooms” - can possibly stay in the air.
I am absolutely convinced that if you found the Wright brothers’ original blueprint, it would be a picture of a stick man riding a bird, followed by a question mark and the word “magic”. Even more baffling, however, than the physics enabling these crazy machines to propel themselves through the skies, is the idea that people still manage to get thrown off them.
UK rugby bad boy Gavin Henson is the latest victim of mid-flight silliness. The 30-year-old was this week sacked by the Cardiff Blues following a spot of drunken behaviour on a flight from Glasgow.
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Disturbing news from a plane bound from Detroit yesterday, with passengers busted for joining the Mile High Club.
As news.com.au reported, air crew were worried by passengers suspiciously heading back and forth between the toilets and their seats, and two F-16 jets were scrambled to shadow the plane on its approach.
Anyone out there a member of the Mile High Club? And why’s it called that anyway, given most commercial jetliners cruise at about six miles up? How do you unscramble a scrambled jet? Anything more important on your mind? Share it here.
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Yesterday, we had a lively discussion in The Punch office. The following is what the fly on the wall heard…
Ant: What’s this story you’re thinking about re babies on planes, T?
Tory: Malaysia Airlines are banning kids in first class and I reckon it’s a brilliant idea. I wish I had the money to fly first class, and now there’s one more reason. I’m always the passenger who ends up next to the screaming baby which means I arrive somewhere tired and pissed off when I’m meant to be enjoying my holiday
Ant: You’re aware that babies are human beings with every right to be on a plane, right?
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Next week I’m headed to Japan for a two week break. I tell you this not because I think you have any particular interest in my holiday plans, but because I suspect I’m flying on the same Jetstar plane that had a blackout on the way back from Japan a couple of weeks ago.
For those who haven’t heard this story, the Herald-Sun reported today that a Jetstar plane had an instrument blackout during flight from Japan to the Gold Coast last week as it flew through storm clouds. The problems that affected the airspeed indicators on the Jestar Airbus 330-200 were similar to those reported by the Air France pilot of a similar 330-200 before the plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean killing all on board.
No sooner had I finished reading this story with a mix of novelty (hey that’s my flight) and horror (oh my God that’s my flight) did I read about the stuff up on a Melbourne to Sydney QANTAS flight.
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Update 7:00am 2/09/09: The Herald Sun’s Padriac Murphy is reporting this morning that the plane is a secret anti-terror spy plane owned by the Australian Federal Police.
What type of plane was it that spotted Victorian Water Minister Tim Holding stranded in the Victorian Alps?
In a statement on their website this morning the Victorian Police stated that an Australian Federal Police plane had spotted a light from Holding’s makeshift camp.
Yet this afternoon Victorian police have contacted news organisations telling them to remove any reference to the plane being an AFP plane with the reference taken out of the media release . What is going on here and who owns this plane?
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Mostly flying doesn’t bother me, although there was a time when just the thought of a trip to the airport would make me break out in a sweat.
My head would suddenly fill with all the possible bad things that could happen, notwithstanding the fact they rarely do.
On the other hand, I rarely worry about a visit to the doctor, and while I’d rather not see the inside of a hospital ward, I don’t get the chills at the thought of it. Sure I know there’s chance of something going wrong in even the best-run hospital, but how bad can things really be?
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