A weekly ode to the joys of moaning about your holiday, by Tim Roxborogh

So, this happened this morning. A colleague who's been loudly and mightily proudly counting down to her Hawaiian holiday for so long that all her co-workers feel vested in the trip, nearly missed her plane. Sort of. Everyone in the office knew she was flying out on Saturday, but after all these months, it took a more pointed inquiry to save the day (literally).

"What time's your flight?" was the innocuous enough question. When the response came back as being "midnight on Saturday", thank the travel gods somebody said, "Are you sure that's Saturday then, as opposed to Friday night?"

A panicky review of the emailed flight itinerary soon revealed what I've heard more times than I can count. They'd stuffed up and midnight on Saturday is actually Friday night as far as pesky things like airport timetables and, you know, calendars, are concerned. And because it's a universal truth that our brains can't conceive of heading to the airport the day before we fly out, my work friend was going to be attempting a check-in approximately 21 hours after the plane to paradise had left.


Crisis averted, but the near-fiasco must undoubtedly draw our attention to Gladys Knight & The Pips most famous song, Midnight Train To Georgia. Given the ubiquity of the song, not to mention the fact it was originally called Midnight Plane To Houston (true story), how many people booked on midnight trains and planes over the years have been humming this song at the precise moment they learn they're a day too late? Good times.

People who clap when the plane lands

This madness has got to stop. I tried to find out when the bizarre phenomenon of airplane touchdown clapping began, but all I could find are various articles explaining how people believe their country is unique in busting out a round of applause when the plane lands. Lonely Planet even wrote a piece about this very thing, saying that yes, it's dumb to clap, and no, your corner of the world is not the only one that does it.

I first experienced it in 2006, on the tarmac at JFK airport in New York. Maybe in a post-9/11-America passengers were simultaneously more jittery and therefore more appreciative of safe arrival. But why do the Irish clap in Ireland? Why the Puerto Ricans?

Why the Russians? My research suggests the Filipinos are major proponents of the landing clap. Can't get enough of it, apparently.

One theory is that it spread outwards from the States and if it existed pre-9/11, it certainly got exponentially bigger afterwards. But the applause suggests something that's more than a little silly: that landing in one piece is against the odds and maybe even a bit of an unexpected bonus.

Alternatively, the clapping could imply that passengers - who generally speaking, know next to nothing about aviation - are patronisingly saying, "good effort, captain!" to a pilot with thousands of hours' experience.

Maybe if you're in a little four-seater and you fly into a storm of inematic proportions and both engines cut out and your pilot manages to glide into a lagoon before pulling you to safety on the beach, maybe then you can clap. Otherwise it's as lame as clapping at the end of movie, which, by the way, happened during the closing credits of The Lion King and I've been scarred ever since.

Tim Roxborogh hosts Newstalk ZB's The Two, Coast Soul on Coast and writes the RoxboroghReport.com.