Our drive vanishes, and we are left at the Qantas door, looking at a small mountain of luggage. This is my fault.
I have two bags for checked luggage, my overloaded carry-on, and a man-bag for my vital kit: iPad, passport, chewing gum. My wife is travelling hand luggage only. Nearly three weeks away and she gets away with seven kilos. I’ve got fifty kilos allowance and making the most of it.
It’s only a few paces to check-in, but I have to carry an old bag, which has no wheels and is serving mainly as a soft outer skin for the stout cardboard box containing the wine. I cannot juggle four bags at once, so I hand my wheeled carry-on to my wife.
We are staying overnight in Sydney for the dawn Emirates flight to Dubai, and Qantas is unable to hold our bags there or check them all the way to Tehran. A transit of fewer than twelve hours is too much for the system, it seems, and we will have to collect the bags in Sydney, wrangle them over to the International terminal ourselves, and check them in again afresh tomorrow.
Accentuate the positive
That’s the downside, but the upside is that we now have an hour to spend in the Business Lounge. This is the mid-level of the three lounges Qantas maintains in Canberra: the lesser being the Qantas Club, open to members and Gold Frequent Flyers, and the elite Chairmans Lounge, by invitation only, mainly to members of parliament and captains of industry.
Our lounge is reserved for Platinum Frequent Flyers and those actually flying Business Class. Pleasant enough, if one discounts the view of the multi-story carpark. Light meals, various drinks, free internet, and comfy chairs.
We toast our upcoming trip with gin and tonic, and a local sparkling for me. I see airport lounges as essential salves to the friction of travel. All the hassling with taxi drivers and security and helpful check-in agents is soothed away with a bit of relax and a spot of “all-day dining” in a lounge.
The chance to have a shower and a shave between the legs of long-haul flights is one of the things that makes chasing after airline status worthwhile. British Airways even has an arrivals lounge at their Heathrow terminal, and it has been heaven on a stick to soothe away a fourteen hour flight in a spray of hot water and body wash, with a coffee and breakfast between the weary traveller and the perils of whatever transport has been arranged to get me into London proper.
Ever since a 2005 pair of long transits in LAX, battling with other travellers for powerpoints and sitting zombie-like on hard plastic seating before the midnight flights leave, I’ve done my best to keep myself at elite levels with access to the comforts of loungeland.
One of the reasons why I regard joining frequent flyer programs as essential. It might only be a little plastic card, but it is the difference between terminal hell with queues for overpriced coffee and lounge heaven with showers of champagne.