I've long speculated what would happen to the Hand Luggage Only approach when an airline refused to accept my bag for carry-on, and in Devonport I got the chance to find out.
Actually, I'd always suspected this would happen: Devonport is a tiny regional airport, QantasLink flights are stricter about enforcing weight limits — which at 4kg are lower than on regular links anyway, and indeed would mean that a laptop is almost all you could carry on board if they were really strictly enforced. As well, there's no kiosk to let you check in anonymously, and I didn't have access to a printer to do online check-in and thus dodge close scrutiny. I knew my bag would fit under the seat, but I knew that if it got weighed, that would be it. So when the airline dude weighed my bag and found it was substantially above the 4kg limit, there was nothing for it but to accept the challenge.
Of course, I had packed for this eventuality. The zippered bag which I've been using for during-the-day work trips was also included so that if I had to temporarily lose sight of the fabled blue bag, I could remove the truly delicate and valuable items (computer, camera, various drives, cables and USB modems) and carry them on board. And so, reluctantly, I shifted the essentials, checked the bag in and headed into the Devonport Qantas lounge (another surprise: who knew a regional airport with one destination would stretch to such luxuries? I'd seen it indicated on the Qantas site, but frankly assumed it was a typo.)
While there was always the nagging thought that my bag might not transit through Melbourne and into Canberra, I have to admit it was quite nice not to be carrying the full panoply from one end of Melbourne Airport to the other. And the flights all ran on time (indeed, since I started there's only been one delayed flight, and that one only by 10 minutes).
Canberra also bought one of the nicest surprises of the trip so far: Lifehacker reader Rodney showed up and offered me a ride into town, complete with a quick trip to the top of Mount Ainslie to admire Canberra's elegant architectural layout.
Rodney had originally hoped to offer me a ride in his motor home, thereby increasing the ever-growing number of transport methods used on this trip, but unfortunately it was in for repairs. But even so it was a nice demonstration of how travel often brings unexpected pleasures and diversions — and an advertisement for having bright blue luggage that you promote online so that strangers can spot you in airports.
Throughout May 2009, Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman will be travelling throughout Australia with just one carry-on bag for the Hand Luggage Only project.