Of Triumphs, Trauma, and Travelators

Flight #1: Brisbane-Singapore

Menu: Braised beef and vegies; Cheese and crackers; Tandoori chicken roti. Plus sundry beverages, including one called coffee, that wasn’t really.

Playlist: Strong Songs podcast; Hildegard of Bingen; The Rings of Power Soundtrack; Choral Faves

Sleep: negligible (but we were still in high spirits so whatever).

Transit #1: Changi Airport, about 3.5 hours

Triumphs included drinking acceptable coffee, watching the koi jumping in their pond, snickering at signs and pretending to be superheroes on the miles of travelators…leading to:

Traumas mainly caused by failing to carefully cross-reference our boarding passes with the departures board. Leading to:

Travelators, and more travelators, and still more travelators…and finally  we reach our gate (A21).

Except it’s not our gate. Turns out there are 2 flights to Frankfurt… and you guessed it: this one is not the flight we are looking for. I’m so tired that I’m more confused than irritated. How can a flight to New York via Frankfurt be the same flight as Madrid via Frankfurt?

Turns out when deciphering that flickering departure board one should wait patiently for ALL the code share numbers to roll through.

So back we went to our correct gate – A4 – which had passed on our wanderings several minutes ago. Yep, you guessed it- travelators, more travelators and  still more travelators BACK to the gate we’d passed, merrily saying, ‘Glad we’re not in there, it’s packed!’.

Famous last words.

To add insult to injury, the screening at these gates has not yet embraced the latest tech and we were required to reacquaint ourseves with those wretched ziplocs.

Eventually we were scanned, queued, boarded and packed into our cocoons for the longest flight on our journey. Fortunately we had prepared accordingly by packing sleeping tablets. And while we lacked the amazing leg room of our prior flight at least we had aisle access.

Onward and upward, Airbus 380…

Flight #2: Singapore – Frankfurt.

Menu: nice late dinner, tasty brekky, same not-really-coffee et al. Precise details did not register because:

Sleep: approx 7 hours quality zzz’s (husband); comparable quantity (Lou) but subdivided by spasming muscles into about 20 minutes at a pop. Sigh.

Playlist: mostly the gentle snores of fellow passengers. Minor diversions into Mozart Requiem, Bach Brandenburg concertos, and best of John Williams.

Transit #2: Frankfurt airport – unexpected customs – Frankfurt airport domestic and EU… only about 90 minutes but felt much much longer…

Oh me oh my. Why is it that the moment I land in Germany every syllable I know of the language deserts me? Nevertheless. Coffeed and snacked, we breezed along toward our next gate. Until it turned out to be the customs gate.


Oh yeah. EU Schengen thingy. Belatedly we realise this is like going from international to domestic: we have to clear customs and passport control (this time as “other passports”. We brace for impact.

Queue. Queue. Queue. New queue opens! We quickly jump ship. Bad, bad idea.

Next time you are tempted to leave your slow but steady line and join a new one…don’t. It’s a trap! Our new line now moved at quarter speed. To make matters worse, our officer was highly official. Sorry, officious: lengthy questions and minute perusal of all documents. Most of ours are on my phone. He doesn’t just check them, he scrolls each one down, up, down… hm. At last all seems to be in order and we escape into Frankport 2.0 to find our gate (which of course, has changed…). And you guessed it: travelators, travelators and still more travelators!

Finally, flight #3: Frankfurt- Madrid. Water and a mini choc bar. No sleep because we were looking at the spectacular view….from opposite windows, three rows apart, because yet again we didnt read our boarding passes closely enough to notice this in time to fix it!!

But we don’t much care because less than 3 hours later WE ARE IN MADRID!

And so, thank God, is our baggage. Let the adventures FINALLY begin!

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