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It was like being back on Ansett.

On Tuesday Kathy and I travelled from American River to Geraldton.

it was a long day. Drive from American River to Penneshaw. Ferry to Cape Jervis. Drive to Adelaide. Fly to Perth. That was with Qantas, and it was OK. One of the lunch choices was chicken korma. That might have been a mistake. It was a bit smelly, in a stinky sort of way. And the elderly lady behind me kept swearing at her husband. But otherwise the flight was fine. Check-in staff were helpful, cabin staff were polite.

The flight from Perth to Geraldton was a different matter.

The young woman at the check-in counter looked and sounded as if she had several better things to do than check in passengers.

She barely spoke, other than to ask for ID, which we already had open for her.

She did manage ‘There you go’ as she dropped the boarding passes on the counter.

I asked which gate we were boarding from. ‘Just look at the screen’ she advised.

‘OK. Thanks. And where do we go from here?’ I said, not being familiar with the airport.

‘Just go through security.’

‘And which way is that?’

This was met with a deep sigh, as if passengers who did not know the airport were an appalling trial which no staff member should be expected to tolerate.

‘To your left. Look. Just go through security.’

Going through the gate, the staff who boarded guests were more interested in talking to one another than assisting passengers. You could have strolled onto the plane with a dozen sticks of dynamite wrapped around your head and the conversation would still have been about what Gerald and Tiffany did on their date last night.

We found our way across the tarmac to the plane, through a labyrinth of barricades and an occasional staff member staring into space.

The first thing that struck me when I got on the plane was the smell of urine. The toilet was near the door and smelled as if it had not been emptied any time in 2009.

I showed the stewardess my boarding pass. She looked at it as if it was a used tampon. ‘H8’ she said. Was this the standard greeting on Sky West? Or had she mistaken me for a member of some secret society like the Seven Dials?

Actually, I didn’t wonder either of those things. I had looked at my boarding pass when I was trying to work out which gate I needed to go to.

I knew H8 was my seat number. I didn’t need anyone to glare disdainfully and growl it back to me. Perhaps a ‘Good afternoon, welcome to Sky West’ or even ‘Hi, two thirds of the way down on the left’ would have been appropriate.

Then dinner arrived. There was no choice, but hey, it was food. Well, sort of.

It looked like Chicken Caesar salad. ‘Looked like’ was as close it got.

The chicken was a gluey concoction, apparently made of gristle mixed with chicken flavouring, and a streak of brown paint to make it looked as if the glue and gristle had been grilled.

There were soggy croutons, and wilted lettuce, and ‘Caesar Dressing’ in a little plastic pouch. And a stale bread roll.

I rarely drink on flights, but consoled myself with a mid strength beer.

There was a 1 inch by a half inch bar of Cadbury chocolate in the dinner box.

That was nice.

And our bags arrived in Geraldton at the same time we did. So I guess it wasn’t all bad.

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