The Japan incident: how to create a brand new travel phobia

Three months ago my eldest moved to Osaka for at least a year, to explore another culture, teach English and in his words, “be a grown-up”. A family farewell at the airport was called for to mark such a milestone experience. My son is not noted for his organisational abilities, but last minute visa crisis notwithstanding, by the night before departure all was in order.

The first leg of his 13 hour journey was a domestic flight from Brisbane to Cairns and I confidently calculated what time we needed to leave home to pick up son number 2 on the way, and be on time for check-in. My family accepted the proposed departure time with not a murmur of doubt. I am the most maths proficient member of my family, and their faith in my calculations was expected, but, as it turned out, tragically misguided. It was only as we were on the way that it dawned on me that my timeframe for arrival was cutting it very close. Somehow I had underestimated by about 30 minutes when we needed to be at the airport. Disaster ensued. Catastrophically late, but still with a flicker of hope, we rushed to the airline’s desk to beg for his luggage to be checked in, but the woman was firstly indecisive and then intractable, so the flight was missed.

He was able to get a seat on the next available flight in the afternoon – a 31 hour epic – and we repaired to a nearby cafe to recover our equanimity with eggs benedict and strong coffee. He made the afternoon flight – I made sure of that. We were at the airport 2 hours ahead of departure time, checked in and waiting at the gate.

Since then I have developed an irrational fear that I will miss any flight I need to take, or drop off family at the airport too late for them to make their flight, or break down on the way, or miss the airport train, or even arrive on the wrong day for my flight. This is despite several drop offs and pick ups where everyone was on time and no flights were missed.

My son was so philosophical about his missed flight, and happily rearranged his schedule to accommodate, despite an additional 18 hours of travel time. Perhaps I need to imitate that relaxed mindset with regard to my flight to Paris.  Or, perhaps  I will obsessively  check and re-check my estimations of travel time to the airport, arrive hours before my flights and be riddled with anxiety until lift-off, as has been my recent pre-flight behaviour.

Hopefully, my airport successes since the Japan incident will soon cure me of my allegrophobia and I will not be whiling away the hours at the boarding gate three flights ahead of my departure. TIme will tell!


Image credits:
Sakura flower fabric
Margaret Warren “Take 2” Creative Commons BY-NC



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