Awake at 0400, out the door at 0425, checking in at 0430, passport control at 0440, security at 0445. Or something like that. I set the alarm for 0400. My dear wife glanced at the bedside clock at 0040, leapt out of bed and turned the light on.
After that, sleep was fitful. I very rarely sleep well before an early flight. Despite three alarms on various devices, there’s some anxious little child in my mind that wakes me up to check the clock every half hour after midnight.
My wife didn’t really twig when I fronted up to the First Class and Platinum check-in. She’s so used to me having some sort of elite status, even if we’re flying Economy, that no penny dropped.
Check-in was efficient and painless. We checked in four bags, received our boarding passes, and headed off to immigration, which I had been told wasn’t open until 0430. It was all but deserted, and I added the Fast Track passes to my growing collection.
I had researched my timings. We were eligible to use the Qantas First lounge, but that didn’t open until 0500, and even if we were first in we’d have barely time for a cup of coffee – or a flute of bubbly – before heading off to the Emirates gates at the other end of the terminal in time for boarding at 0530.
On the other hand, the Emirates lounge would be open much earlier, and being situated beside the gate we could have a coffee and croissant in comfort without needing to worry about finding the gate in time.
But I had one chore before any lounge time. My trusty iPad had taken to crashing several times a day, and I decided it was time to upgrade to a yet more trusty model, which I had bought from the local Apple Store.
Along with an Apple Pencil stylus, and a keyboard cover. I knew that I’d be blogging on the road – literally, during the many hours of bus travel in Iran – and an iPad is handier than a MacBook in cramped quarters. However, I cannot say that I love typing on the iPad screen, hence the keyboard. And I like jotting down notes on the go, hence the Pencil.
The Pencil, in particular, would save me any number of Moleskines, and possibly result in searchable text from my handscrawled input.
All up, a bit over a thousand dollars – a legitimate tax deduction if I ever make any money from this thing – and better yet, a GST refund on leaving the country.
All I had to do was present goods and receipts at the Tourist Refund Scheme office airside at Sydney. One point to note: invoices over a thousand dollars must show the buyer’s name and address, otherwise they will be rejected.
There’s even a TRS app which allows all the details of travel, goods, and receipts to be entered. It generates a QR code which can be scanned at the counter, the thing is done and the money magically appears in the pre-nominated bank account.
The TRS office is located just past the security check exit, off to one side, before the terminal turns into shopping city. Airports are all alike nowadays, and if you’ve seen one shopping centre, you’ve seen a mall.
Two people waiting at the door, a sign saying it opened at 0500, just a few moments away. This should be a snap.
Time passed. The queue grew longer. Nothing happened. And slowly at that.
Things didn’t improve much when the door was opened. Only the one bloke on, and he was having trouble logging in. We had to have our goods and receipts ready for inspection, and those without the QR code ready to go took ten minutes minimum.
For me, it was about five minutes, once I reached the head of the queue.
We were through by 0530, just when we should have been boarding. No time for nothing in any lounge, and a scramble along the terminal arm to get to our gate.
I steered my wife into the First Class boarding. “Um, I have a confession to make…”