There is something extraordinarily special about airports.
Airports are places that bring millions of people from all across the globe together, for reasons as varied as the spectrum of emotions that play out within their concourses and halls.
The clues are sometimes obvious, with tears, kisses, embraces and flowers telling an unspoken narrative to the surrounding strangers. But more often than not, the clues are much more subtle.
For Tas, who drives one of the transfer bus services between Brisbane Airport’s International and Domestic Terminals, it is the not-so-obvious clues that are the most important to respond to in his role.
“It’s a short ride between the terminals, but you need to make it nice and smooth. You need to be able to look in your rear-view mirror and read people, how they behave, and act accordingly.”
More than 23 million passengers transited through Brisbane Airport in 2018. Given the incredible size of the airport precinct (2,700 hectares in total or 27 kilometres squared for those that way inclined), it takes a well-organised fleet of buses to move passengers on the ground.
And that’s where Carbridge comes in.
Part of Swissport, Carbridge is the largest and most experienced airport bus specialist in the country with operations in five major Australian airports.
Here in Brisbane, Carbridge has a fleet of 25 buses that operate across a number of different services landside and airside. Tas is one of 85 bus drivers that safely transport travellers and visitors across the precinct.
“It’s really like a family. Everyone knows one another, and we truly believe it is the small things that make a difference.”
Tas has been working for Carbridge for just over two years, and when you see the infectious nature of his smile, you begin to realise he was born for this role but just took a little while to figure it out.
He understands that being the human connection in a complex and sometimes overwhelming environment for visitors goes far beyond simply taking them from one location to another.
“I wake up at 2:30am every morning, but I’m happy to do that because I’m happy to come to work. I love my job as I get to see people from all around the world. I used to work in IT and sit behind a computer all day, but now, with every person it is a new story."
“It is really rewarding to be trusted by people, and we really try to make their experience as easy and pleasant as possible, from helping them with their bags to giving them directions to ensure they don’t get lost.”
There’s a lot to be in awe of when it comes to Tas. Not only does he have the most infectious smile you’re ever likely to come across, he is a genuine and humble man with a brilliant sense of humour to boot. He is also fluent in three different languages - Hindu, Urdu and English - with a clear thirst to learn more.
Originally from a snowy, mountainous area of India, Tas swapped the minus-three-degree climate for the humidity of Brisbane 10 years ago and he hasn’t looked back.
For anyone who knows him, they will vouch for the fact that he is a perennial, albeit unwilling, high achiever.
Within his first 12 months in the job as a bus driver with Carbridge, Tas was awarded a ‘Top 50 Swissport Champion’ award – a peer-voted accolade that recognises employees who go above and beyond, inspire others and continuously give 100 per cent.
It’s hardly surprising when you hear some of his stories and experiences on airport.
“Every day, something happens that I learn from. I remember there was this lady who could not speak English who was very panicked and stressed trying to get to the Domestic Terminal and she didn’t know what to do. She started crying. She was 70-years-old.
I just gave her a nice smile and asked, “Are you alright?”
She hugged me and started crying. I said, “It’s alright, I will help you.”
As soon as she looked at my face I gave her a smile, she trusted me. I took her to the domestic, and luckily one of my duty managers was there. He said she would take her in, but she didn’t want to go with him. She pointed to me! So he took the bus for a lap and I hopped out and took the lady to her gate.”