Sir, I’m going to ask that you to go to the Quarantine line…
Having spent the past four months living in West Africa, I am always afraid of getting sick before a flight. There are numerous stories of people arriving at airports from West Africa only to be quarantine for several days because of the fear of Ebola. In past travels to Kenya and Rwanda, passengers are subjected to invasive and burdensome travel requirements to prove that they are Ebola free. When my Emirates flight arrived from Abuja, the passengers were free to roam with no if, ands or buts. The Australian customs form required that you declare if you had traveled to Africa in the past six days. I marked that I was recently in Nigeria and was told that I needed to head to the quarantine line. My heart sank…I was rehearsing in my head what I would say to the agent once asked about Ebola and Nigeria. When I approached the desk he asked to see my yellow fever card. After a quick analysis, he handed the form back to me and told me to enjoy my day. I was relieved as I thought I would have to endure a medical exam to prove I was Ebola free.
I arrived in “Bris-Vegas” (as it was reference by one of the flight attendance) at noon. My outbound flight to Auckland was at 6:00pm. I had four hours to waste before check-in for my next flight. I decided to go into the city and walk around. The city put me in mind of a Baltimore-type city…not a popular destination like Sydney or Melbourne but a city of hard working people. At 4:00pm, I returned to the airport to check-in for my Virgin Australia flight to Auckland.
As I was checking in, I was informed by the ticket agent that I needed a return ticket. I had not purchased a return ticket as I didn’t know when I would arrive in Auckland. I told him that I had a U.S. bound flight on Tuesday out of Sydney so obviously I would return to Australia. That was not enough to allow me to proceed to the security gate. I was directed to the service desk where two very nice women helped me purchase a non-refundable ticket that could be refunded without any penalties. They also helped me by exempting my second piece of luggage, a wooden walking stick that I purchased for my uncle. When I returned to the ticket agent, I had to rearrange my luggage because I was over the weight limit. I think she could tell I was becoming frustrated by the maze of luggage requirement that exist among airlines. Emirates allowed me 30kg (60lbs) when I departed Abuja. Now I was being told that I could only take 23kg. Luckily for me, my bag was only 23kg when I departed Africa but I had recently purchased a few things in the airport and repacked in my checked bag. I told her to just charge me the extra baggage fee because I’m just not sure what to do…In addition to being exhausted, I was losing time to catch the flight. She helped me arrange my bags to get them under weight and told me to run so I would not miss my flight. As I was going through security, they were announcing that Virgin Australia was making its final call for passengers on the flight to Auckland. I had to sprint through the airport to board the flight.
Finally, Auckland was now in focus and I was only seven hours delayed. I would get at least one day with Vartan before he headed back to the U.S.
Pictures from my “brief” trip to Brisbane…https://www.dropbox.com/sh/xxzvul2caiurvx1/AAA6-LDcNyhrZoqTpiWdv9HOa?dl=0