A 45 hour journey to get home, Dec 3-5

4.45am Taxi
I wake as we arrive at Heathrow’s terminal 3, this early it has only taken an hour, a record.
Light rain falling, the sky tattered grey with a skirting board of white.
Relieved to check in, my Covid test was twenty minutes earlier than the designated 72 hours.
I know how bureaucratic airlines are (having once been prevented from boarding a flight to China)

Queues and COVID confusions, sleep elusive, I snatch what I can
as I creep home at 600 miles an hour, all interiors via decadent Dubai.

I have six hours, so go in search of a blissful few hours sleep.

But the only flat space I find is next to the women’s toilets.

The only flat sleeping place I find in Dubai airport

International travellers arriving into NSW, NSW Health, 28 November 2021
You must self-isolate at home or other place of accommodation for a minimum of 3 days after arrival.
You must travel directly from the airport to your home or accommodation via private vehicle, taxi or ride-share and all people in the vehicle must wear a mask. You must not take public transport. You must not travel on a domestic flight.

Receiving this information, I booked an airport hotel for 4 nights as I was arriving very late Saturday Night.

International passengers arriving in NSW Omicron update, 1 December 2021
All fully vaccinated international passengers arriving in NSW who have been in an overseas country, but not a country of concern, must:
Get a COVID-19 PCR (nose and throat) test no later than 24 hours after arrival in NSW
Travel by the most practicable direct route to their residence, or other suitable place in NSW or interstate where they intend to self-isolate. Vaccinated passengers can only transit in a private vehicle, taxi, rideshare or by interstate air or rail travel.

So I cancelled my hotel booking. I should have paid more attention to the word ‘Practicable’.
I have travelled widely and presumed that as an international airport, Sydney airport would stay open and I could find somewhere to sleep. I wanted to do the right thing. I asked border force at customs what the situation was. They were very relaxed and said, I could go to any hotel.

By the time I got though immigration it was closing on midnight, I could not be bothered to tray and go online and book another hotel room, then walk there or get a taxi. I asked a security guard the best place to sleep, and was told the airport was about to close until 3am. She suggested there are some seats in a bus shelter to the right.

I was too tired to try and book a hotel and get a taxi, so unpacked my warm clothes, put them on. Outside it was cool, a wind was whipping around. The bus stop looked very exposed, but I noticed some benches in the car park opposite.

My travelling experience meant I could get over an hour’s sleep. I did think of the homeless in Sydney. I just had one night of this, and it wasn’t winter. I worked on my laptop until five past three when I headed to the airport a hundred metres away – closed. Later, I noticed people entering the airport at around 3.30. So finally I could escape the wind.

I had been trying to do the right thing. I realise that the situation is fluid, but clear guidelines should be issued and the airport should stay open, like any other international airport I have ever been to. Even Darwin stays open all night!

When I finally get through check in I find the airport almost as quiet as a month earlier when I left.

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