…. and one which I became very familiar with, and used many times.
Being now fully decked out it was time to hit the main check-in counter. Being a tyro, and considered wet behind the ears, my initial contact with the travelling public was confined to writing and issuing tickets, and taking their money. Pretty simple stuff, no pressure, it needed getting used to, after all the years stuck in an Insurance office, but I worked at it, for all of one shift!
The cashiers position was in a predominant spot, which was fair enough; nobody was going anywhere without a ticket, and it took up the first place on the counter. Except to the left, there was a raised section, just large enough for two ground hostesses to work, in the ‘busy times’. The first set of scales to the right was dedicated to the premier flights. Melbourne/Sydney/Brisbane/Perth, the big planes, Electra’s, DC6B’s, even Viscount 800 series. This position was always manned by the top traffic officer on duty.
The last set of scales? If you were going to King Island or Hamilton or some such isolated bush town, in a DC3 , that’s where you went to check in. And be prepared to be weighed, along with your luggage.
Talking of luggage; each passenger was entitled to 35 lb free, carry on baggage was limited, no big overhead lockers to stow your gear in to avoid paying excess like today. You’re over weight. you pay!
Overseas passengers had an extra allowance, 30 kg (66lb) for first class; 20 kg (44lb) for tourists.
Most passengers arrived at the terminal with tickets, so there really wasn’t much to do, normally the cashier would give the t/o on the premier flights a hand with the luggage, labelling it, and bunging it onto the conveyor belt behind, to go the 20 or 30 feet out to the loaders. These blokes were just outside the ‘Traffic Office’ and their space was also where incoming passengers went to collect their baggage.
No carousels, bags stuck on a trolley after being offloaded, the passengers grabbed their own stuff, sometimes one of the loaders would think to check, make sure they were only grabbing their own, but it was an honour system most of the time. I never heard of anyone abusing this system, ever. Any luggage that wasn’t collected from the collection area, was loaded onto the “Airline Bus”, and taken into the city terminal, where the owners could pick it up, whenever it suited them.
Ticketing was good grounding, as I got to work with the best, and Melbourne had the best traffic officer in the whole Ansett network. His name was Doug (Dougie) Faulkner. There was another Falkner, (I can’t recall this blokes first name) who was the laziest bludger to ever don a T/o uniform. But Dougie; he was tops, he could do no wrong.
Doug had a bit of a habit when calling his flights on. He liked to bung in a destination that wasn’t serviced and didn’t have an airport, or runway even. I recall one day, it was flight 330, the noon service to Sydney, Brisbane with connections to North Queensland ports. On this occasion Doug decided to bung in Oodnadatta, just for the hell of it.
Now Oodnadatta happens to be stuck way out in South Australia; miles from anywhere, back in 1960 it might have got a truck or bus pass through once in a while; but on this day Ansett had an aircraft which had a connection to Oodnadatta, you guessed it, some bloke came running up to the counter could he get a seat on the plane, as he was going to Oodnadatta, he was booked to Adelaide on Flt 238, and had to try make his way up from there.
Poor Doug, had to apologize and tell this bloke that the aircraft was fully booked, and there was nothing available unfortunately. Didn’t make that much difference he was soon back to his tricks, without a hiccup.
Doug was married to a Queensland girl, from Rockhampton, now Rockie has/had an airport, and Ansett serviced it, or rather did; and he had been promised the job as Airport Manager/ Traffic Supervisor, head honcho. He’d pretty much given up the idea of ever getting there.
I really enjoyed working as his ‘pencil’, the bloke labelling and handling his passengers baggage, he was always in control, knew all the regulars, always fun when working the same shifts as Doug; I really admired that man. He’d have to be pushing 90, if he’s still going, and offering connections to Oodnadatta.