I hadn’t been on a plane since leaving London. It’s fair to say I was rather excited about climbing onto that big white metal machine again and jetting off into the clouds, even if my destination was just two hours north to Queensland.
Everything was going smoothly. I had managed to squeeze all the essentials into my carry-on bag (Tiger’s check-in luggage fees are even more ridiculous than Easyjet’s).
My liquids were ready for security, placed nicely into one of those plastic bags, and I even had my passport — forgetting that neither of these were necessary for domestic flights.
The outbound journey went well. My companion and I even managed to find our way to the hotel like professional tourists before enjoying a nice extended weekend in the Sunshine State.
It was when the time came to fly back to Melbourne that things got a little amateur.
Clinging to our budget travelling roots, we decided to take the public bus to the airport. It had done a good job of getting us from the airport to our hotel just days before, so it seemed a reasonable idea.
After checking out of our hotel and carting our luggage around Surfer’s Paradise, the time came to make our way to the airport.
The first issue arose, although it was nothing to be concerned about at this stage, when we discovered the bus stop was a little further away than we’d expected. Add 10 minutes extra walking time. No biggie.
The next potential problem popped up when we got to the bus stop and looked at the timetable. Seems we’d just missed our bus and the next one wasn’t for about 25 minutes.
Hmmm. On top of the extra 10 minutes of walking, this would make us about 35 minutes behind schedule. But we were in holiday mode and didn’t bother to do the maths.
The bus came on time. We jumped on board and continued on our merry way. Being a public bus, it was slow-moving, stopping at every stop and taking the best part of an hour to travel 20km. Exhausted from too much holiday indulgence, we fell asleep on the bus and didn’t consider the time
Once at the airport, we made our way to the check-in desk. Other than the fact that our holiday was about to end, we didn’t have a worry in the world. Again, we weren’t thinking about the time.
But with the words “check-in closed five minutes ago”, all of that instantly changed.
“What?” we asked, before checking the time and realising that yes, in fact, the airline attendant was correct.
“Come on,” we said. “We’ve only got hand luggage so just let us on”.
“No. We’ll have to try and get you on a flight tomorrow,” the Tiger staff member replied. And with that, he left.
We were left standing there, dumbfounded. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Instead I did nothing and continued to stand there with a stupid expression on my face.
And so began our mission to recover from this mishap, starting with tracking down a member of Tiger airlines staff.
As you would expect, the only available flights for that day were ridiculously priced and, as I mentioned before, we are budget travellers at heart. So, with no refund from the flight we weren’t allowed to board, we secured ourselves seats on another flight the following day (and let’s just ignore the fact that we both were meant to work the following morning).
We also found a cheap backpackers just five minutes’ walk from the airport — sold! There was no way we were going to miss the next flight.
While we tried to blame the mishap on the rude Tiger staff and their strict rules, we couldn’t help but feel really quite stupid. This was entirely our fault.
But when all is said and done, our holiday was a day longer, and our working week a day shorter (let’s ignore the fact that our bank accounts were harmed in this incident). It certainly wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened. However, I don’t intend to repeat the same mistake.
I’ve learnt my lesson: airlines don’t wait. Not even for experienced, (too) relaxed travellers like myself.
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