The fun starts before we're even left the ground. I've only been through Jeddah airport in the wee hours, when it's reasonably swift. In the middle of the day it's awful, with long strings of people blocking the concourse in all possible directions.

Check-in does not go well. I accept the desk's offer to check me through to Melbourne, which turns out to be my first mistake. Check-in quickly notice I don't have an Australian visa, so I show my Australian passport. There follows a long, drawn-out debate over whether the photos in the passports match, and why one of them says I was born in London, and the other Hammersmith.

The check-in committee appear to be waiting until the fear sets in before they conclude that both of me are who we say we are, and telling me to apply at the gate for an upgrade to first class by way of apology. All the time this is going on, the bloke behind me in the queue is physically leaning on me, presumably in an attempt to make the process go more quickly.

Passport control has the slowest-moving queue in the Kingdom, and I've given up hope again by the time I finally emerge from the duty free shop (aren't all shops in the Kingdom duty free?). Finally I reach the gate and discover they have no information on this upgrade.

Even better, behind my seat in economy is the World's Screamingest Child. Shortly after I take it, the other passenger assigned to it turns up. I'm pretty happy to go along with his insistance on kicking me out, and I hang in the aisle until a cabin crew member turns up to find out what the deal is, and get suitably flumoxxed by the identical seat assignments.

After listening to my dubious-sounding story about an upgrade, and a swift conference with ground staff, she splits the difference and rustles me up a seat in business, leaving the new owner of seat 10A looking pretty sick.

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