Ping! A Facebook notification. My friend (hello, Jo!) just posted that she is at Tullamarine International Terminal. Ooh, where is she off to, I think, clicking through. Nowhere fast, it seems.
Her flight has been delayed four hours, and she will now miss her connecting flight to Osaka, and wait five hours in Hong Kong. Cue multiple sad emoji faces. But cue, also, multiple comments, from the sympathetic "Grrr… that's so annoying", and the sympathetic-but-positive "There's always duty-free shopping" to the extremely positive "Have a glass of champagne for brekkie and kick off your holiday in style".
It made me realise we've all been there. We also know there's not much we can do about it, so how we handle it is a test of one's own character and mindset.
There are three good things to know when delayed at an airport. 1. Know your rights. If it's for more than four hours, you may be entitled to a complimentary meal or hotel accommodation. 2. Know your travel insurance. They will usually pay up for more than a four-hour delay, on receipt of a confirmation letter from your airline. 3. Know your airport. These days, it may well offer good spaces for sleeping, working, showering, or even getting a massage.
And as Jo was reminded, there are shops. Me, I head straight to the book shop and read huge passages of all the books I haven't read. I try on ridiculously expensive clothes I will never buy (sorry, Gucci, Balenciaga and Chanel). I try on relatively inexpensive clothes and still don't buy them (sorry, Zara).
Next, I hit the duty-free skincare counters and make a beeline for Crème de la Mer and their miraculous Concentrate. I am obsessed with this light, luscious, luxurious serum that glides on like silk and makes my skin baby-bottom soft. No, I have never actually bought it. But I have, um, bonded with tiny samples of it many times at duty-free counters all over the world (sorry, Crème de la Mer).
We all have our coping strategies, whether it's using the time to clear our emails; drinking single-malt whiskies with strangers in airport bars; or loudly haranguing the poor staff who clearly don't know how important we are. I'm with Jo, who I'm betting had that glass of Champagne for brekkie, and giggled all the way to Hong Kong.