Firstly, there is a high probability that flights will be delayed due to the heavy air traffic. Hence, ensure there is enough allowance of at least three hours between connecting flights to avoid any undesirable situations.
While waiting for my flight home (which had been delayed by initially 15 minutes, then half an hour and finally for one hour), I sat there looking at passengers disembarking. Some literally flew down the stairs and across the tarmac to the departure hall while others sauntered at a leisurely place. At one point, some passengers were running at such a breakneck speed that it seemed as though their cabin bags were moving a few inches off the ground. In between, there were so many announcements that each time a voice thundered through the P.A. system, the chattering diminished as many stopped what they were doing to listen carefully. Every now and then, someone would go up to the counter of each departure gate to enquire about the latest status. It was a good thing I had ample supply of nuts, reading material and water to keep myself busy.
Secondly, ensure you have masks to protect yourself. I had stupidly packed my masks in my luggage which had been checked in earlier. After boarding the plane, I was horrified that the lady making her way to the seat behind mine sneezed (without closing her mouth with her hand/handkerchief/tissue_ and baptised the person in front of her with her saliva. I was even more horrified that as she made her way to the centre seat behind my aisle seat, she sneezed again and I felt the droplets landing on my face.
Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew!!!! Hurriedly, I took out my hand sterilizer, poured some on my hand, rubbed it all over my face and hands, wiped it dry with a tissue and then wiped it again with my wet one.
Barely had I finished my cleansing ritual when another passenger on my right started coughing. It was as though there was a whole choir of coughers in that flight for lo and behold, the main soloist appeared - a baritone seated in the hot seat area. Boy oh boy, he led the cacophony of coughers from start to finish, even when disembarking.
Fortunately, I had a thick shawl with me. Gingerly, I took it out, covered my hair (to protect myself from flying droplets of saliva).
Thirdly, be very careful if you want to look around you because idle/irate/bored passengers waiting for their flights can actually partake in weird antics including:
- digging for booger - I saw at least five passengers of various nationalities gloriously and ecstatically digging their noses
- digging their ears and examining specimens
- taking off their shoes and examining their toes/nails/grime
- sleeping/sitting in the oddest places and in the strangest positions/posture
- displaying selfish habits such as placing their luggage on the seats instead of the floor and thus depriving fellow travellers of vacant seats
- couples quarrelling
- mothers scolding their children
- mothers pretending to teach toddlers how to pronounce words/syllables in the most artificially created accents that made my hair stand!!!!
- mothers scolding fathers for buying the wrong stuff
- how some passengers lack presence of mind when packing. I saw a lady who checked in two pieces of luggage and five packages of various sizes which should have been re-packed in one big box so that these do not go astray in transit or at collection point
Fourthly, be prepared for the disgusting state of public toilets at the airport. I had the most horrible experience at one of the toilets after I disembarked. I could not believe my eyes when I entered the restroom and saw the dirty and smelly puddles of water on the floor. The next instance, a young boy rushed into the restroom and the same slimy dirty water sloshed around and landed on my legs, skirt, handbag and luggage. I was enraged and comforted myself by imagining that the same culprit was hung upside down and cleaning the floor, dirty water and all sloshing on his face! Needless to say, I spent considerable time cleaning up.
Fifthly, be prepared for the strange instructions given by personnel who lack fluency in English. For instance, after the check-point, the beep sounded because of my stainless steel magnetic bracelet which I wear for many reasons (including deflecting radiation particles from EMF or RF). The security personnel pointed at my left shoe and said, "Take off your shoe." Meekly, I removed my left shoe. Then he said, "One more time."
One more time?
I looked at him. I was not sure if he wanted me to take out my insole. He looked at me. He repeated, "One more time."
So I put on my left shoe and took it off again.
Then he said, "Tinggalkan sebelah."
Sixthly, you have to be a good interpreter because most of the time, announcements made over the P.A. system are largely in garbled language because of poor intonation or settings for the microphone.
Seventhly, be prepared for all kinds of rubbish overflowing from rubbish bins, or scattered on the floor, or half-eaten dishes left on the tables in various restaurants/fast-food joints and flies dancing all around in full appreciation for the wonderful 'buffet' spread for all and sundry in the insect kingdom.
Eighthly, be ready to witness disgruntled passengers cussing away when checking in or when dropping off their luggage. I actually heard a gentleman scolding the poor guy on duty and telling him a list of bizarre and horrid things he hopes will happen to the airport so that the authorities concerned can take the necessary steps to improve the situation.
Ninthly, be patient when you have inconsiderate passengers who persist in using their hand phones when the plane is taking off/landing/in-flight and be even more patient with flight attendants who are blase or non-vigilant when checking to see if passengers followed the captain's orders. Last night, I asked the stewardess if passengers are allowed to read their ebooks via Kindle. She said she did not know but she would check for me. Minutes later, she did not get back to me. After reminding her three times, she finally got back to me and said it is allowed. In the first place, should she not be taught what is and what is NOT allowed to ensure she can uphold safety guidelines?
This is what I found at THIS SITE:
Am I permitted to use any electronic items onboard the flight?
For safety reasons, during take off and landing we forbid the operation of electronic equipment onboard our aircraft. Such items include but not limited to, cellular phones, smart phones and tablets, laptop computers, portable recorders, CD players, electronic games or transmitting devices such as radio-controlled toys and walkie talkies. Operation of hearing aids and heart pacemakers is permitted. You may use your laptop after the captain has completed take off, but for all other equipment please check with our friendly cabin crew if you are unsure.
Tenthly, be prepared for unreasonable passengers who will not hesitate to block your way with their hand-carry luggage so their girlfriends can exit easily even though they are seated in a disadvantaged position.
When the plane landed, I was in such a sleepy, drained and tired state that as I pulled my bag from the overhead compartment, I swung too hard and the bag hit my face :-(.
What a horrible journey! Having said that, I am glad to be home!
Oh - I have yet to write about the horrible Penang airport...More in the next post - with photographs!