Paid snack carts on planes are about as awesome as the smelly kid in school. Their existence wouldn't bug me so much if they'd always been the norm (paid snack carts, that is), but it's their figurative (and sometimes literal) place side-by-side with the included-in-your-ticket meal carts that makes them stand out so much.
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Most travellers have years of knowing that when you board a plane, you'll be receiving some sort of food without having to reach for your wallet. Granted, meals on domestic flights in New Zealand have long been a thing of the past, but it's a given if flying abroad. Where I get tripped up, is when I'm doing a domestic flight but in another country. I'm still in the "Yay I'm flying internationally!" mode. Nine times out of 10 I forget that even if it's a lengthy domestic flight somewhere else in the world, I'm going to have to pay for food.
The annoyance factor increases when you realise your wallet is buried somewhere in the overhead compartment. So you have to halt the trolley, pause your movie, remove your tangled headphones, shuffle whatever's on your tray-table on to the lap of the person next to you, undo your seatbelt, awkwardly manoeuvre into the aisle, open the compartment without stuff falling on your face, and then top it all off with an archaeological dig for your wallet. All for a packet of overpriced popcorn.
Then there are the times when you're flying long-haul, but you're kind of hungry and you're slowly freaking out that it may be a massive wait until the next meal service. Once I was in this exact conundrum just as the paid snack cart started heading my way. If the paid snack cart was doing the rounds, it must be hours until the next complimentary meal. Panic! I won't be able to survive!
So I did the whole exhausting routine of getting my wallet and ordered something of a hilarious price from the menu. I kid you not, less than 10 minutes later, the complimentary meal carts were cracked into gear. That's right, people like me had handed over money for snacks under the certainty there'd be no way a paid snack cart could be closely followed by a complimentary one. In what crazy world could that possibly be a thing?
Well, 10,000 metres above Planet Earth, that's where. It felt as bad as if I'd somehow absent-mindedly bought something full-price at Briscoes on the one day of the year they weren't having a sale. Who pays for something when if they just wait 10 minutes they can get it for free? More importantly, who offers it?
Being in the wrong check-in line at American airports
Landing in the States is never a hoot. I genuinely love travelling around America, but that first impression at whichever airport it may be is seldom entirely positive. One issue seems to be endless snaking queues to finally reach a computer that spits out a piece of paper telling you that you have to join another endless snaking queue where this time you'll speak to a human.
I'm all for self check-ins, e-scanning and automated customs facilities, but if so many of us are ultimately redirected to a human, then what's the point?
Tim Roxborogh hosts Newstalk ZB's Weekend Collective and blogs at roxboroghreport.com