E@L is stuck in the Brisbane airport. The Virgin Australia computer system is down. It's nationwide, so not just me. He thinks it went just before he tried to check-in at the multi-screen DIY booths as staff were only starting to wander through the petrified forest of electronic Daleks with a SORRY OUT OF ORDER signs. When his flight detailed had been at first rejected, he assumed it was something he had done wrong. That tells you something doesn't it?
The queues to drop bags and to check-in were getting longer. He shrugged and moved down to the end of the airport check-in area for a coffee and a piece of toasted banana bread. And an egg and bacon toastie. And tweeted about the shambles.
He was lost in a mist of tweet and FB posts when he cleared the cloud and looked back into reality to realize that it was getting close to his departure time. The crowds were, naturally, growing. He saw on a billboard that Virgin and Singapore Airlines, as well and New Zealand airlines and (was it?) Etihad were now partners. Hmm, thinks. He had been in the lounge, but nothing on the Priority check-in area had indicated anything that Star Alliance Gold members were permitted to avail themselves of this service. The queu looked just as stuck anyway.
He shrugged, pulled out the static line and wheeled his two bags around the milling,lost, angry, bewildered, frustrated crowd up to the Inquiry Desk.
"Do Virgin accept Star Alliance Gold for priority?"
"Certainly sir. Which flight are on?"
"Melbourne, 09:55." (It was 09:25.)
"Of course you know everything is down and we are checking people through manually." He nodded. "Come this way sir, that flight is being checked in at Desk 38."
She led him across the front of all the queues, along the crowded space between the check-in desks and were the front of the queue was supposed to be. The people who had been waiting longest were silent and moved away as the Attendant urged him ahead. He imagined their eyes, their narrow burning eyes, lasering into him, their anger and envy and even more frustration powering some level much greater than stun.
She pushed him onto the front of the queue at Desk 38. An Asian woman with a trolley full of heavy bags and a child on her hip had to push back to allow him in front of her. She did not say anything and looked away, but taking the opportunity to sigh very loudly. The Attendant however spoke to the woman behind the desk and E@L was given the priority of the being the next one to check in, before the Asian mother.
E@L was aware of the emotions that must be running through this no-choice-but-to-be-patient mother, and he flelt the weight of the presence of all the people behind her who had been waiting much longer than he had. He shrugged and apologized to her. "I didn't ask for them to do this." he said. "She just dragged me along," he said indicating the Attendant, who was now leaving, smiling a farewell..