I called Qantas this morning to enquire whether it was possible to check some of our luggage through from Melbourne to Geneva, even though we’re spending a couple of days in London. Thirteen minutes on hold listening to an endlessly repeating tape, then a voice comes on the line. “Yes, there’s no problem with that,” said the nice lady on the phone. “Just call back with the flight numbers so we can check that it’s with an airline that we share with.”

Around lunch time I called them back, with the flight numbers this time. Fifteen minutes on hold, and then a different voice:

“No, there’s no way that they can do that unless you are travelling from London to Geneva on the same day. I don’t know why anyone would have told you otherwise. Your only possible option is to send it as unaccompanied baggage from London to Geneva, at about $4.90 a kilogram, here, I’ll transfer you to the freight company we deal with…”

Ten minutes on hold listening to a different tape, and then:

“Sorry, can’t help you, this is domestic enquiries, hang on and I’ll put you through to international.”

another minute…

“Hi, um, we’re in the middle of moving offices and I’m on my mobile and I don’t have any of the rates, can you call back on this number in about ten minutes?”

I explained that I’d been on hold for quarter of an hour and had no idea what “this number” was.

“OK, how many kilos are you sending?”

“About 30kg, it’s two bicycles in boxes”

“Oh, bicycles are charged on volume, it works out to be about 32kg per bicycle, you’ll need to measure the height by width by depth and then divide by 6000 to get the equivalent weight charge for bulky items, I’ll take your name and phone number and call you with an exact price…”

…end of lunch time, one 28 minute phone call, one thrilled customer.

On the topic of security, I wonder if Qantas still insists on only providing plastic knives with meals, but accompanied by metal forks, and wine in glass bottles? I’ve always found that bizarre, especially after being mugged once by someone using a broken bottle as a weapon.