This is more-or-less a true story told to me by a close relative, this time not about Air Pacific but about Qantas.
Come fly with me
'You'll just have to hold my hand. Stop me from panicking,' Kathy instructed as Hedley bought return tickets - Melbourne to Perth - for a week's holiday. Kathy's a nurse, Hedley's a potato farmer, and they've been a couple for two years. So far, holidays had been by car to Tamworth for the music.
'No worries,' he answered with a smile. 'It's only a four-hour flight.'
They had not booked on the cheaper no-frills plane, but in the one with the excellent track record. The trip to Perth went sweetly as Kathy sat in an aisle seat, not too far back. She breathed deeply and just grabbed Hedley's hand. The week in Perth was beautiful, using a rental car, with a trip to Busseltown, no cooking to do, lots of sightseeing.
On Sunday they arrived at the Perth airport by midday and had two hours to wait.
'Bad news, ' said an official-looking woman with a white stripe in her hair. 'The plane has engine trouble in Adelaide. Won't be coming. 'There are a hundred and twenty passengers booked. We'll get you out of here. Meanwhile have a two-hour bus tour of Perth this afternoon. You'll leave at midnight!'
More peering at the sights. Kathy just shrugged and looked, while Hedley put on his sunglasses and slept.
At midnight there was news. 'We've organised to get you all back to Melbourne,' said a different airport staff officer, a man with a hint of make-up on. 'With just a little detour.'
Kathy complained, 'I have to get back to work!' Hedley also had to get the spud crop dug up.
'There's twenty seats available in the morning, so we've put most of you on the detoured flight that goes via Cairns, ' said another staff officer, with plucked eyebrows.
'What! Cairns is at the top of Queensland!' shouted Kathy.
'Don't worry Madam. We're not charging you extra for the longer distance.'
'Hey, wait a minute. Cairns isn't even near Melbourne!' muttered Hedley, calculating.
Well, that's the way they went, flying over the Northern Territory, into Queensland and landed at Cairns. The clothes Kathy wore were too heavy as the place was muggy and hot by morning. They flew to Brisbane, stopped an hour, then to Sydney, waited two hours, then to Melbourne. It took 24 hours from Perth to Melbourne! Kathy was too exhausted to worry now about her claustrophobia.
Dirty and tired, but not hungry because of all the snacks at each stopover, they drove home to Geelong, dumped their cases in the lounge room. Hedley put on the kettle for a cuppa. Kathy lay on the sofa, shoes chucked away. She pressed the TV remote control.
A program was just starting. This is your life. Sixty years of our wonderful Australian airline Qantas. Happy birthday!
' And, I still call Australia home,' sang Hedley in a gritty kind of tenor.
When she threw the TV remote at him, he dodged. The teacups flew in the air and smashed on the polished parquetry floor next to the discarded airline tickets.