Monday, September 24, 2007

Back Home & How To Get On A Qantas Plane With No ID

Well that was a week to remember. It's been so long since I've had a week where I wasn't expected to do anything, so I did nothing, well nothing but what I wanted to do. I did have a few things planned, but after the first day's shocks they went right out the window as I ran around on a buying spree. I managed to soak in a lot of the Melbourne I used to know, travelling on trams and trains, getting lost and walking. And did I walk! I think I covered between 5 - 10 kilometers per day. I'd get back to the apartment with throbbing, sore feet, but I think that between the walking and the on-site gym I must have lost around five kilos of fat that I can easily spare. Now to keep it off and drop some more.

The ad on the left was, for me, one of the finds of the week. We hit the Chapel Street Bazaar and found this amongst a pile of movie posters for a mere $10! If I had unlimited funds I'd have bought all the posters too, but that wasn't to be. This ad caught my eye for several reasons - I've only ever seen a fairly poor reproduction in a Groucho book previously. It's unique in that Groucho rarely lent his name to commercial items, and this was the only time he flogged cigarettes off, after all he was a cigar smoker. It dates from circa 1928 and it is an original ad from an American newspaper. It's a lovely large size and when I can find a suitable frame it'll be going on the wall. Personally I love it.

The most amusing thing happened as we left. I'm now convinced that I can't get a clean series of breaks in this world, but I'm buggered if I know why I'm being thrown all these tricky balls. We booked a hire car for our last day for two reasons. We didn't want to lug our luggage about on foot and we wanted to go shopping yet again. The car hire company we booked was decent enough, we booked on-line and they said we could pick the car up from their Melbourne (city) offices anytime that evening. They were told that we'd be picking it up well after work hours, no problems said they. So we reached the offices at 6:40pm to find that they'd closed at 6:30pm! This is on an evening (Friday) where everything else in the city is open to at least 8:30 to 9:00pm. No biggie, off we went home. The next morning we phoned as the offices opened, at 8:30am to find that the car was gone. Sometime between when they shut shop at 6:30pm and opened the following morning the car had been re-hired and was no longer on-site. Personally I didn't believe it then and I still don't believe it now. We went elsewhere with the suggestion that perhaps they say on their site, or in the confirmation email, or during the booking process their office hours.

It got better though. Amazingly enough the past week saw the government introduce tougher restrictions on who can and can't get on an airplane and are making it harder to get past security. What a load of crap! We flew Qantas on our return. Upon reaching the airport and being attacked by a rude counter chick (who kept pointing at a series of un-manned terminals and insisting that people were there) we got to where we were supposed to check in. Qantas now insist, for Melbourne anyway, that you check in electronically. We did that, we checked out bags and wandered through the security screens. We waited and then boarded the plane. Nothing special about that, you might say, expect that we did all of that WITHOUT ONCE EVER BEING ASKED FOR, NOR DID WE SHOW ANY, IDENTIFICATION OF ANY KIND!!! No photo ID, not even a Medicare card. At Adelaide we were asked for photo ID or we'd not get on the plane. Same with Sydney and Brisbane. Not Melbourne. We checked in, checked baggage and got on the plane without verifying who we are even though we spoke, in detail, to at least three Qantas staff members. The security at Melbourne airport, one of the more run down airports I've seen (it's badly in need of a face-lift), is amongst the slackest I've ever seen. Anyone could book a ticket, pay for it on-line and then check in without being asked for the relevant ID. Brilliant!

Even better. As we boarded we noticed a guy staggering up the gangplank. He could barely walk and came from the bar section of the airport. He got on board, sat down and proceeded to hit the booze again. As we landed he was staggering in front of us, barely able to stand. He reached the top of the walkway where his wife and kid was waiting, she had a murderous look on her face and he collapsed onto his young child, dead drunk. So not only do you not have to show ID to get on a plane in Melbourne, you don't have to be sober. No matter how drunk you are you'll not only be admitted, but given more grog to keep you quiet. I alerted airport security at Adelaide and was told that it was the airline's problem, not theirs. So much for doing the right thing.

So anyone in Parliament who thinks the airports are more than secure, well stop worrying about the general security and start checking the carriers policies of letting drunks on board and not bothering to check any ID. You might get somewhere that way. It made for an entertaining end to a damn good holiday.

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