Sunday, January 8, 2012

Flying the Friendlier Skies

When I was a kid, flying was a luxurious adventure.  Free food, nice stewardpeople, an emphasis on customer service, no need to lug heavy bags around. 

Somewhere between childhood and now, flying in the U.S. has lost its charm.  In a world where global travel is increasingly common, it's depressing how uncomfortable we can be made to feel on flights in the States.  Don't get me wrong, I completely understand and appreciate the need for added security.  But somewhere in the rush and fracas and cutbacks, we've forgotten that flying is a pretty awesome thing. 
View from our exit row window as we were flying over Lord Howe Island.  The dark spots in the ocean are the corral reefs.

Here in Oz flying is still magical. 

I've been on five domestic flights since arriving in Australia and they have all been stress-free and relaxing. There is no extra cost for checking luggage on many airlines.  The security lines are short.  Everyone goes through the metal detector, but you don't have to show photo i.d. or bother with taking your shoes off.  In fact, all you need to board a plane is your boarding pass.  I was a bit flabbergasted the first time I flew to Sydney and didn't have to show my driver's license or passport. When I voiced my surprise to the colleague with whom I was flying, he shrugged nonchalantly and said, "It's Australia. We haven't had any terrorist attacks here."

Not only is getting on your plane a much easier and faster process, it's also much friendlier once you are in the air.  Every flight that I've been on has offered complimentary beverages and snacks.  A light breakfast and juice/tea/coffee for flights that take place in the morning, and free alcoholic beverages and meals/snacks for afternoon and evening flights.  (Yes, even on the 40 minute flight between Canberra and Sydney!)
Snack box with Christmas Ginger Bread cookies (plus other tasty food).

The flight attendants themselves are courteous and genuinely want to ensure that your flight is enjoyable. Clearly, customer service is still a priority for airlines here.  I also love how the pilots always check in over the loudspeaker, just to say hello and give you an update on the highlights of what you'll be flying over.

Also, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the very glam uniforms that the Qantas stewardesses wear.  The uniforms were designed by Balarinji Studio and are inspired by traditional Aboriginal art.  (Studio owner, Ros Moriarty, has a wonderful book about the Aboriginal experience called Listening to Country that I read before moving to Australia.)  Aren't these dresses beautiful?
We also really enjoyed our Virgin Atlantic flight from Los Angeles to Australia this past June. The flight had extra leg room in economy, a tv on every seat, tons of free movies and tv shows, and a charging station so my ereader never ran out of batteries.  Drew was particularly impressed with the futuristic lighting on our plane which shifted between various soothing colors at night.

If you, too, are missing the good ol' days of air travel, you'll just have to come visit us in Australia!


  1. Much less magical when you fly the discount airlines, I can assure you! But, I agree that it's all much easier here. In some airports, I've noticed guests can even go to the gate to see their loved ones off, which I vaguely remember doing in a pre-9/11 world. Very cool.

  2. Wow- That sounds amazing. I love the cookies that came in your snack box. I miss the pre terrorist days of america for so many reasons. I can't wait to experience this for myself!

  3. Sounds so amazing! And fun- which is what travel should be, right?

  4. Ahh so lucky! Awesome snapshot from the window too! Makes me want to live in Oz haha. I had to fly to California and all I got was 1 cookie and couldn't even watch tv :(


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