Sunday, July 27, 2008

That's quite a change

You'll remember I tried your patience as a loyal reader a week or so ago when I reported[^] that United Airlines had emailed me to advise of a two minute change in departure time from Phoenix on my way to Australia. 54 days and counting!

As part of the anticipation heightening process I re-checked my itinerary a few days ago and discovered that they'd moved my departure back another 45 minutes. I don't leave Phoenix until 7:33 now, assuming they're on time. That leaves me with about 80 minutes to walk the couple of hundred metres from the domestic to the international terminals, grab a quick smoke and run the gauntlet of security again.

That ought to be enough time though I note that the last time I went to Australia I had to go through a second level of vetting. One fronts up to a counter (on the sterile side of security) and hands over ones passport. They go through the pretence of checking ones passport on the computer and, if all is well, they stick a red dot on the outside of your passport.

Do I really believe they have a live line to some Australian computer system in DFAT? More importantly, given that if they do it'll be an internet link, do I really want to accept that my passport details were just sent over a public system? Sometimes it's better to be a cynical old bastard.

I'm telling you, you aint getting on that plane without the red dot! It's almost as though we (Australians) are trying to outdo the US government in the paranoia stakes. Remember Richard Reid[^], the shoe bomber? He was apprehended mid air over the Atlantic on December 22 2001. That was December 23 Australian time. On December 25 I flew to the US and had the pleasure of being on the first flight where one was required to remove ones shoes and have them checked for explosives! I reckon that had to have been *before* the first US checks!

Not only that; they've changed my return flight. I'm going out via San Francisco but I thought I was coming back through Los Angeles. Good thing I checked the flight again because now I'm returning through San Franciso. If I remember rightly, the SFO flight departs Sydney half an hour before the LAX flight and I've had LAX on the return so fixed in my head that I'm sure I'd have missed the plane if I hadn't checked.

I haven't received a peep out of United via email regarding these latest changes. Do you reckon someone there read my previous post and put a block on my email address? Nah, that'd be too paranoid even for me!


Guy said...

How long do you have to go without a fag on a flight that long? Do you wear nicotine patches to get by on the flight?

Rob said...

About 15 hours. But nope, I don't use nicotine patches. It's amazing but just knowing I can't smoke means I don't think about it. Well, not until we're about an hour from landing and then I start thinking longingly of how good that first smoke's going to feel!