LAX: A Total "Gong Show"

LAX: A Total “Gong Show”

Ican just picture it now… pretty much any reader outside of Canada viewing the above title and thinking to themselves, “What the hell is a Gong Show?”

Well, I’m here to explain and then apply to the concept to my experiences in traveling from Brisbane back to Vancouver via Los Angeles’ LAX International Airport. Read on…

gong show

(gông shoh) -adjective

  1. Originated from Canada — based on the 70’s amateur talent show, “the Gong Show” (“Red Faces” equivalent for the Aussies out there)
  2. A term used mostly in the hockey world of Canada basically meaning “out of control” OR completely ruined through the good intentions of amateurs.

So here’s how my oh-so-fun journey back to Vancouver went. Bear in mind that this all occurs over a 20 hour period…

  • Boarded Qantas flight QF 175 in Brisbane bound for LAX – 12 1/2 hours flight time.
  • No female flight attendants under the age of 45 (I know, I know, poor dittums)…
  • Was never given a head set for the “entertainment system” so had to bug a hosty to get one.
  • Had to settle for the beef when the lip smacking chicken/tomato lunch combination ran out before the trolley got to my row. That alone wasn’t a problem, but when breakfast rolled around and I was hankering for the hot version, I was met with, “sorry Sir, we only have cereal left”… Arrrgghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!! Not happy Jan!
  • Landed at LAX (the circus) at around 6:30am local time with the understanding that my connecting flight to Vancouver was leaving at approximately 10:30am.
  • Endured a 45 minute line-up at immigration before once again going through the rather intrusive finger printing/photographing process.
  • A new feature of the “LAX Gong-Show” experience involved me having to collect my luggage (rather than having it checked straight through), transfer it myself through to another screening area where I waited in line for another 20 minutes. Was disgusted to see how the “baggage handlers” were treating passenger luggage, visibly throwing bags onto conveyor belts with scant regard for potential fragility of contents. The whole process, being handled by a savvy bunch of motivated individuals (please note large dose of sarcasm flagged by those italics), was alarmingly disorganised and I had this funny feeling that that was the last I was going to see of my bags for today…
  • Headed up to the Alaskan Airlines check in area where I was under the false notion that with my bags already checked in, all I had to do was punch my e-ticket code into one of the touch screen ticketing machines, grab my boarding pass and move on. Wrong. Because I was an Australian passport holder, I was herded off to my own “special” 15 minute lineup to obtain my boarding pass (funnily enough from an Aussie staff member), where I found out that Alaskan Airlines had decided it would be best to move my flight forward an hour and a half to a 9am departure, leaving me with 18 minutes to get through a security screening and to the furtherest gate of the terminal.
  • Arrived at the security check where, in typical LAX fashion, it was total bedlam to the point where I was left to load up the x-ray screening trays with all my gear with no staff assistance or guiding signage of any kind. Sure enough, I was taken off to a little cubicle on the other side of the screening gate and taken through a full explosives swab test on my camera and laptop equipment. This is far enough and it’s good to see them being thorough, but why was I not informed that laptops had to come out of their cases before screening? I mean, this is the usual practice at airports now, but I was given no advice to this nature by anything or anyone when going through. Meanwhile, precious time dwindled…
  • Finally making it to the required gate, I boarded Alaskan Airlines flight 639 to Vancouver where I was met by the mightily attractive hostess “Heather” – finally my luck was changing!
  • Actually really enjoyed the 2 1/2 hour flight chatting with my neighbour, a lovely lady who works as a street nurse in Vancouver’s East Hastings area, an area known as “Skid Row”. The stories she told of her team’s experiences battling “ice” on the streets were fascinating and eye-opening to say the least.
  • Passed through the well organised and efficient Canadian immigration with ease. In fact, “foreign passport holders” seemed to be moving through the check station quicker than Canadian nationals were through theirs.
  • Stood and waited at the baggage carousel for my bags to appear and was not surprised at all when the conveyor belt eventually stopped and I was met by a PA announcement that passengers who had earlier traveled on the QANTAS flight from Brisbane, were required to check with the lost baggage handling staff. With Jordan (who was generous enough to come pick me up from the airport) waiting outside somewhere, I went through all the rig moral of filling out detailed descriptions of my luggage and was basically promised that it would be delivered to me at home before 11pm tonight.
  • It’s now almost midnight and I just took possession of my gear (yes BJ, your skis made it in one piece). Lucky I had a fleece with me to keep me warm given how damn cold it is tonight — 1 degree.

In all, Monday 30th October ended up being a 43 hour day for me filled with much fun and frivolity!

Ok, ok… but sometimes it’s good to have a good rant and get things off your chest right?

 Image credits: Background & lead image by jpellgen (Flickr)

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