Fear of Airports

I almost didn’t make it out of the country. I’m travelling on my Canadian passport because my Australian one is with the Czech consulate getting a visa put in it (which takes 60 days if you’re lucky and they’re being quick about it) and it turns out customs don’t like letting  Australians out of the country without their Australian passport. The customs woman did the whole calling her supervisor over who sat me down in a chair to the side and made calls on his walkie-talkie while examining the photocopy of my Australian passport I had pulled out of my check-in bags in a last minute, just-in-case decision.

I have a terrible fear of air travel. Not the flying bit but the bit before – all the stuff between arriving on time and getting on the plane. I rather spectacularly missed two planes in a row a couple of years ago and I’ve never fully recovered. I get on a plane maybe three, four, five times a year but I still fall into irrational panics when there’s a sniff of something wrong. “What? No window seats left? Does that mean I’m too late? Is the plane full? Has it already left? Ohmygod ohmygod, I should get to my gate. What’s my gate number? Where’s that? Am I even in the right terminal? Is this the right check-in counter? Are you the right check-in lady? Did I misread the dates on the itinerary? Did my plane leave yesterday? You’re going to let me through, right? Tell me I’m going to get through!”

There’s just so much riding on it – the consequences are so immense and fucking it up is so easy, especially flying internationally. There are so many factors, so many little, bureaucratic details to get wrong. They nearly didn’t let me on the plane to Singapore last year because I had booked my return flight separately and didn’t have a photocopy of the itinerary.

Eventually, suspiciously, after I had explained to him that my passport was going to be sent to me overseas, after long examinations of the photocopies, the customs man let me through. The relief was immense but I could only nod my head, pick up my bags and walk calmly away, lest they see me as a security threat and deport me to Canada or something.


2 Responses to “Fear of Airports”

  1. 1 Zoe's Father January 28, 2010 at 5:20 am

    Hey – Here’s a thing: if you have dual citizenship and you annoy a country enough to get them to deport your ass, which country would you get sent to? Would it be the one you least want to go to, perhaps (to maintain the punishment theme…)? Hmm.

    God – can you imagine being deported to Canada? All that nice-ness everywhere. Whew. […shudder…]

  2. 2 guess January 31, 2010 at 1:48 am

    found you.

    i know this airport feeling; i think people should feel uncomfortable there. i mean, there you are, in an over-sized over-populated heavily policed building, churning through aisles and turnstiles and single file lines so that you can take your place on a glinting aluminium-can flying machine that looks like it isn’t made for anything useful, let alone sliding into the air and ‘cruising’ at many-thousand feet. if this feels normal to you, the rushing and then the waiting and the warbling announcements and the fake smiles, then you ain’t normal, i reckon.

    once in ho chi minh’s airport i sat at gate 39 waiting and waiting for my plane back to australia, watching a game of soccer and wondering why we weren’t boarding yet. eventually i heard a shortened and shouting interpretation of my name announced on the loudspeakers and i went to a desk and told them my name and they grabbed and pulled me about one kilometre along alternating stretches of airport carpet and travelators until i got to gate 3 and a plane full of glaring people. i slid in seat 39, sheepishly double-checked my ticket and didn’t make a peep the whole way home.

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