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Travelling by plane brings its own difficulties

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About Kathleen

Having it all and enjoying every minute of it .... mostly

Photographer, traveller, adventurer.

You are never too old to go on an adventure.


There are some things you just can't hurry. Getting through airport security is one of them!

If you ever see me standing in a queue, don’t line up behind me.

Sunrise at Sydney Airport.

Sunrise at Sydney Airport

Whenever I get in a queue, it immediately stops moving. It happens everywhere – the supermarket checkout, the bank, even places where there is only one queue and always at airport security.

I recently flew to Adelaide. I normally drive when I go away, so perhaps I was just out of practice on what happens at airports.

I checked in online and only having carry-on luggage, I arrived at the airport right on boarding time. After all, it was early in the morning and all I had to do was get to the airport lounge and get on the plane. Sounds simple enough, but I had forgotten about airport security.

It seems like everybody these days travels with carry-on luggage only. The airlines are to blame for it all, tickets are cheaper if you don’t check anything in, so of course everybody packs as much as they can into the largest bag they can get away with as carry-on. And it looked like some of them were going away for a month. Their bags were huge and they all had to go through the airport security scanner.

Read more from Kathleen Swinbourne: Top 10 things to do in Sydney

Not having much time, I joined the shortest queue and stood there, and stood there, and stood there. Not moving, while everything was minutely inspected by the x-ray. Each bag spent so long in the machine that I was thinking of sending in a search-and-rescue team. In the meantime, the clock was ticking away, getting closer to when my plane would take off – possibly without me.

So I changed queues and immediately, miraculously, the queue I had been standing in moved forward while the one I moved to stopped.

When it was my turn, I walked through the scanner only to have it beep. I’ve done this before – the slow strip for the scanner. First one bracelet, then another, then the shoes, then a belt, etc. By this time it was 17 minutes before my plane was due to leave and I still had to get to the gate lounge, so I didn’t have time for the slow strip.

I decided to go all the way immediately and took it all off – all my jewellery, my shoes ..... I was even tempted to take my jeans off because they had metal studs on the pockets, but I thought it would take too long to get them off and on again. Besides, I didn’t want to put everyone off their breakfast.

Finally, I made it through and sprinted for … somewhere. I forgot to check which gate I had to go to, so had to check the flight number on every gate as I went past. To add to the list of “things I learned at the airport”, you can’t read those noticeboards through polarised sunglasses.

As my glasses are prescription, I couldn’t see when I took them off, either, so I had to get up close and personal with each gate board to see what it said. Of course, my gate lounge was the last one, the one they advise takes four minutes to walk to. That’s four minutes as long as you walk straight there and you don’t have to stop at each lounge along the way.

From the time I made it to my gate lounge, the queue to board was almost cleared, there were only two people left. I was silently congratulating myself for avoiding a queue when, you guessed it, there was something wrong with their boarding pass and they had to wait while the steward checked on it.

At least I knew the plane wasn’t going to take off without me.

When I got on the plane and looked out the window, the early-morning light was beautiful. And the sunrise was magnificent, both from on the ground and up in the air. I was taking off at the perfect time.

And at the other end, my sister was waiting to pick me up from the airport and take me out for a champagne breakfast by the beach. It was worth all the queuing.

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