Muffin takes a bite

ROBERT MACKLIN thinks prices at Australia’s airports are a scandal

RECENTLY, I flew to Brisbane for a reunion, returning the next day to find that overnight parking had cost me $42.50!

This is absolutely typical of prices you pay for almost anything at airports these days. For example, a blueberry muffin at Brisbane airport – a small confectionery made for about 20 cents – cost $5.25.

I needed the sustenance as the Qantas flight from Brisbane back to Canberra had been delayed because they had to change planes. The pilot said the original one “broke” which, of course, filled us all with confidence for the substitute.

Naturally, they apologised for the delay (in a mechanical tone of voice that is no apology at all), but there was no suggestion that they might refund part of the fare for the “inconvenience” that probably added to my Canberra parking fee; or even for that wretched blueberry muffin.

But muffins are the tip of the exorbitant prices at airports. Everything you eat, drink or wear is vastly dearer than you’d find outside the airport bubble. They seem to feel that since you’re in holiday mode you won’t object. And after all, there’s really no choice; you’re hardly going to leave and head back through the traffic to find an alternative muffin shop.

And that’s another thing – since they’ve allowed office blocks and other commercial buildings in the airport area, traffic congestion has become horrendous, particularly at peak hour. Canberra is bad enough, but Brisbane is so dreadful you should probably start out the day before.

Then you have to go through all that security rigmarole and somehow, for reasons that quite escape me, I seem to be singled out by the guy just beyond the security barrier to test whether I’m carrying previously undetected explosives in my small (but adequate) carry-on.

And how come these days they allow people – mostly women – to bring about six pieces of carry-on luggage aboard and take up all the space in the overhead locker and bang us more thoughtful folk in the ear while they’re stowing the massive things above us?

I mean, really!

I don’t object in principle to the security checks but here’s the really crazy thing. In country airports from Longreach to Emerald, they have an entirely different attitude to security. Out in the boondocks the checks are practically non-existent. Do they honestly think that terrorists or loonies travel exclusively from the capital cities?

I used to live in country Queensland and I’ve met more whackos out there than ever I’ve found in our fair city. Sure, Sydney and Melbourne might be different. In fact, there’s a lot to be said for levelling Sydney international airport which is a total embarrassment… though in a much more measured manner than a terrorist bomb.

Meantime, what to do? First, the various governments should step in and stop the rorts; and if that doesn’t work then the sooner they build the Very Fast Train the happier we’ll all be.

robert@robertmacklin.com

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