ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact

As the cost of living crisis gets worse and ordinary people begin struggle to make ends meet, the nation’s flag carrier is force feeding audiences around the country a reality that most can only dream of.

Millions were glued to TV screen around the county last night as the Matildas went down to Poms in the semi final of the World Cup. Spliced between the action was an advertisement for Qantas that showcased some hapless weeboo in Japan feeling sorry for himself because his Mum is having a birthday and he can’t be there.

So, like any other broke young fuck living overseas, he just opens his laptop and books a business class fare on Qantas to the nearest capital and sleeps horizontally until he arrives.

That’s a reality for a lot of Australians but for the overwhelming majority of people on this spinning hell rock of a planet, flying home in business class just isn’t realistic and probably never will be.

For most Australians living overseas that still have hair and collagen, getting back to this island is a more arduous journey. Everyday people don’t fly on Qantas overseas because it’s prohibitively expensive. While some will pay the extra because they want to arrive at their destination without getting flown into the side of a mountain or driven into the sea. But for the most part, the journey begins sitting on the floor at Heathrow eating a cold scotch egg from Pret.

The call comes for QF2. A mass of grey-haired, beige chino-wearing barge arse boomers get up and file out of the Qantas Club and get on before anyone else. Regardless of whose being called to board first. Then there’s the Hugo Boss tracksuit people with their noise cancelling headphones. Then there’s people with screaming children. Lastly, a few intrepid recent private school graduates shuffle on smiling knowing that their adventures to Dublin, Paris and Barcelona will live on in their memories forever.

They leave and two hours later, plus another two for a delay, your call comes. For the next 38 hours, you are at their mercy. Death is about as likely as being comfortable. You try to sleep but the noise is unbelievable. The stewards ignore you, you line up to take a piss somewhere over Tibet and some guy just pushes you out of the way and takes a piss before you. The food is shithouse and they don’t feed you grog. Sleeping horizontal in economy is only possible in death. With mercy, the plane lands in Guangzhou and you finally get to take a shit. You can feel the dry mass stuck inside you like a meaty loaf of stale bread. As you sit trying to get your phone to connect to the terminal wifi, some dude spits on the floor in the cubical next to you.

Your plane gets delayed then cancelled.

Finally, you board and your brain just shuts down shortly after take off. The eternal darkness of plane sleep consumes you for 45 minutes until you seat neighbour needs to get up and take a piss. You wake up to him trying to crawl over you.

When you land in Australia, you’re last off and the immigration line is bigger than Ben Hur. You try to use the quick computer thing to jump the queue but it tells you to join the back of the line.

A storm blows over and the ground crew can’t unload the plane until it stops. Two hours later, the bags come out and yours isn’t there. They stop you at Customs and find a vape on your person. The Customs man gives you a stern talking to and makes you chuck it in the bin. When you come out the one way doors and back onto Australian soil for the first time, you buy a vape from the souvenir shop inside the terminal and suddenly feel a scratch in your throat.

The next week is hell because you have some exotic illness that’s not the spicy cough but probably some undiscovered variant of it that’s months away from shutting the world down again.

Mum’s birthday was OK but Uncle Fred ruined it by getting too drunk and arguing with everyone from you to the letterbox about The Voice.

In ten days time, you do it all again to get back to Tooting Bec and your job in TV licensing.

More to come.


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