A Fun Way to Kill Time at the Sydney Airport on New Year’s Day

Qantas aircraft at Sydney Airport, Australia

Qantas aircraft at Sydney Airport, Australia

If you’re gonna spend any length of time at the Sydney airport, generally the lounges are the best way to do it. Since my Vanuatu flight dropped me in Sydney at 11 AM and my flight to Hawaii did not depart until evening, I had a big chunk of time to wander about the Sydney airport capturing portals in my Ingress game or at least that was the plan. Turns out that the free WiFi at the Sydney Airport is absolute crap and drops the connection every two feet, so that plan fell by the wayside in a hurry.

I tried to get into the Quantas Lounge but they refused me access, even though they are partners with JetStar and routinely let JetStar Business Class travelers use the Quantas Business Class Lounge. They had the gall to ask for $800. McDonald’s had free WiFi but it didn’t work, either. The Chinese would have WiFi, I figured, so I headed for Dim Sum, and I was absolutely correct.

On New Year’s Day (and I do have two New Year’s Days this year, one in Australia and one in Hawaii), they charge a premium at many airport restaurants just to enter the restaurant, if you can believe that. Airport security also will not let a traveler sit at her international gate until an hour prior to take-off. In between, one is bombarded by Duty Free and luxury brands splashed left and right, and like they do in Brisbane; Customs routes all traffic directly through the Duty Free shops.

I was on a hunt for better WiFi. The obvious place to get this information, I figured, was from the Airport Information Lady. I went to her booth but she wasn’t there. No sign of her anywhere. I decided to sit in her chair, figuring security personnel would come by, spot me and perhaps help me to locate Airport Information Lady. That, and there was no other place nearby to sit.

Now, mind you, I was wearing a Florida Dolphins Research Center t-shirt and shorts. My hair was a tossed mess, no make-up, not to mention my nose started dripping and I was sneezing. Perhaps I was allergic to the Sydney airport. I plopped myself into Airport Information Lady’s chair. She had maps of the airport on her desk, and as I dug around, I found a little note that read: Your Job is Important. How quaint. Where the hell was she?

A little old gray-haired lady hobbled by using a stroller. Did I know when her flight to Los Angeles departed? Sure, right in front of her was a huge departure screen listing gates, flight times and destinations in flight time order. Gates started out low and go up alphabetically to the right. Hey, I was pretty good at this!

Next, a nerdy fellow came by to ask if I could help him with his custom’s form. I told him where to pick one a declarations document and handed him a pen. I should get a raise.

Then, a harried-appearing housewife from Iowa stopped to ask where she could get her VAT refunded. Normally that is handled by security at the airline office, I informed her. Where is my coffee and my assistant?

A Japanese fellow who seemed very confused, tired and apologetic stopped to ask if I knew where to get tickets for flying standby. Why, you get the ticket at the counter, and you can check the departure board over here to find the next flight. Right behind him, though, was an bunch of flight attendants from United Airlines, and the leader of the pack was marching in my direction.

“Where is United Check-in,” she demanded? At the United Airlines counter? That was a good guess. She was twitchy and a bit irritating because she was lost and it was somebody’s problem, not hers, of course, and there would be hell to pay for it. I handed her a map. She studied the paper in her hand, furrowed her eyebrows and asked me again: where is United Check-in. Under the big f-ing United sign? I told her I don’t work at the airport, and I’m just waiting for the Airport Information Lady.

You shouldn’t be sitting there, she hissed at me. No, probably not, I agreed, glaring back at her, yet here I am. Then she turned around to the Japanese fellow and instructed him not to talk to me because she is just a person at the airport and not Airport Information Lady. I beg your pardon? Don’t I look like the Airport Information Lady? Which I did not. My husband would have told her to please return her shitty attitude to its original upright position.

Just goes to show that desperate people who are lost or need help don’t pay much attention to their surroundings. In all the time that I sat in that chair pawing through Sydney airport security data, nobody came by to yank me out. In my defense, though, I could have told people their flights were canceled, or I could have made up bunch of Australian words, but I actually provided a valuable service.

Now I have to write a letter to Quantas requesting that they reimburse the fee I paid to Sky Team Lounge.

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