I don’t need this

I, as we Australians so delightfully turn a phrase, am a “grey nomad”. But the stress of several hiccups on this my first trip overseas for 3 years has only turned my thinning grey hair, white, hence forth after this first day , I will be a “Snow Goose “.

My domestic leg, Adelaide to Sydney departs at 6 am, I arrive with plenty of time up my sleeve and approach the “Business International Check In”desk .

Most of us would agree that any interaction between a customer and the “customer service officer”, is flagged instantly, not by the first words, but the “emoji “ of the agent. Now granted we both have been awake since at least 4am, a possible gracious justification for a dour, sour face on a gender neutral assistant and an opening statement hand extended for passport “where are you flying to this morning?” A slightly chilly reception to a flight to Chile!

As I write these words, I acknowledge they suggest I am at best an aging, grumpy somewhat suspicious customer, at worst psychotically paranoid! The reader is entitled to make up their own mind!

As the officious officer keys in my details, I am asked for my copy of visa for Chile! Did I hear correctly? Jesus wept, I should have worn my hearing aids! Yes I heard correctly! Having reassured myself 6 weeks ago that as a transit tourist I did not need a visa … it was explained to me “ new recent rule”!! This is my first trip in 3 years and the first not organised and orchestrated by a competent travel agent, obviously!

My atrophic brain was smothered in a tsunami of emotions. I vaguely registered the words “ I am unable to book you or accept your luggage without a valid visa “. My Instant initial thought was to swoon to the floor, landing over the luggage conveyor belt and feign a major epileptic fit.

As the first rays of the sun crept over the Adelaide Hills, I am sure it also dawned on the check in agent, that I was of an age when cardiac implants were the norm AND he/she was in fact, interacting with a Qantas FF, that’s “Frequent Flyer” … not just any old FF but “Platinum “ .

I was informed I could apply for an e-visa and told to go away and come back having applied on line – I was supplied with a handwritten link . Leaning and trembling on the glass fence around the lift well on the departure floor , I keyed in the link on the iPhone, to be presented with an obvious condensed confusing page in a foreign language ! Conflicting thoughts raced through my brain : forget about the bloody holiday! Throw in the towel, give away your $15000 of accumulated Qantas vouchers over 3 years and the $12000 Backroads Patagonia adventure , catch a taxi home , collect Tosca my “already missing him, “ border collie and go back to bed!

I did a reset and cautiously approached a different Qantas services agent! Chalk and Cheese! – Let’s just book you and your luggage to Sydney, you have a 4 hour layover, so get to the lounge and have breakfast , coffee and fill in the form at your leisure! What an agent!

As luck would have it, I was able to fill in the form on my phone , print out the email acknowledgment, whilst sitting quietly in the Adelaide lounge, ready to front the check in agent at Sydney’s international terminal – I can hear your collective sigh of relief! I was back in control, hallelujah….

So domestic sector flight all plain sailing (or soaring if you prefer an aviation metaphor). At baggage collection carousel 2, engulfed in a sea of rainbow signs, flags and Pride Posters, I patiently wait and wait and wait…. No luggage ! Slight panic worthy of a simple swoon rather than a full blown seizure. I meander down to Qantas Baggage “complaints” desk ! Here I acknowledge the gender, a delightful reassuring woman takes command. I bring up “Find My…” app on the iPhone. It places my luggage , with its embedded I- tag, thankfully at least in Sydney airport Terminal 3 , somewhere between McDonalds, Krispy Crème Donuts and the Prada Leather shop! She disappears and after an inordinately worrisome long time reappears to say “ no luck” but again recommends I head over to the international terminal , book in and she takes my number! Praise the lord , she phones within 10 minutes, luggage found and she will book it through to Santiago for me! I am on a roll!

Negotiating check in to Santiago is painless! Passport, printed copies of COVID 19 international vaccination certificate, printed acknowledgment of Chile e-visa! Hair resumes normal grey colour. I am asked to scan a QRS code which takes me to the Chilean dept of agriculture! I turn on google translate and successfully answer NO to various questions – such as “ are you a terrorist, have you been in contact with anyone with Monkey Pox”?

I purchase a couple of bottles of Liqueurs to collect on the homeward journey, I am frisked by a very handsome Indian man at security and I am now sitting in the lounge, relieved, reassured but still missing the bloody dog!

2 thoughts on “I don’t need this

  1. What a nightmare! I nearly had a seizure just reading about your visa woes. And how weird that the first guy you came in contact with was so unaccommodating.

    I hope to see some photos of Patagonia and I guess you are hoping to see some of Tosca.

    Love, Caryl


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