What I Did On My Holidays

Chapter 10

L.A. to S.F.

Day 6

We met Kelli, the significant other of the guy Max shares the apartment with. Max had been hoping to keep his US friends and his Australian friends separate. The two groups have complementary Max stories. That is to say that the two groups could tell lots of Max stories to each other, not that the stories would say nice things about Max.

To start the ball rolling, Kelli showed us photos of Max at a bar. He wasn't drunk, he'd just fallen asleep. The loud band clearly hadn't bothered him. We laughed. Maybe we laughed too much, because Max then rushed us off to the airport to catch our flight to San Francisco.

Commuter flights from L.A. to S.F. really seem like pack-em-in, cattle herding exercises which get quite ugly due to two strange features. Firstly, this airline doesn't give out boarding passes. You check in your luggage as usual, but you just get a ticket with a bar-code, no boarding pass. In the departure lounge, an hour before nominal take-off time, you get to queue up to have your bar-code scanned and receive a number. When boarding time comes, numbers 1 to 30 get to board first and take any seat they like (all seats are cattle class on this flight). This is where it gets ugly since many of these people decide an aisle seat is preferable. Thus when everyone else boards, these aisle seat occupiers are getting up and down to let others get to the window and centre seats.

This wouldn't be too bad if it weren't for the second feature. The definition of hand luggage. In the departure lounge, there is one of the standard wire basket jobs which define how large your hand luggage is allowed to be. This is ignored. In US terms, hand luggage means huge apparently. "Hand" luggage that is so huge that it needs wheels ceases to be hand luggage in my opinion. When it is combined with a handbag, a suit bag and a couple of bags of shopping, I feel the line should have been drawn somewhat earlier.

So boarding is this messy situation where people in aisle seats are hopping up and down like demented  rabbits, people with seventeen pieces of oversize, wide load, need a police escort on the freeway, "hand" luggage trying to stuff it in already full overhead lockers, and the rest of the passengers trying to squeeze past to the back half of the plane.

Announcement I've never heard on an Australian airline: "If anyone can make change for a five dollar note, please press your call button now"


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