Nightmare at the Airport *updated*

Posted by M ws On Sunday, December 9, 2012 7 comments
I learnt one precious lesson over the past few days - Never fly during school holidays, especially on weekends.

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."

Enough said.

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!

7 comments to Nightmare at the Airport *updated*

  1. says:

    Bunny Have not experienced even 10% of what you purportedly went through on one flight. Maybe you should bathe with flower petals, take deep breaths and realise that not everybody is as "cultivated" as you.

  1. says:

    MWS Part 1

    Dear Bunny

    I am quite puzzled that you used the word 'purportedly' because as one who has been reading my blog, you should know that I NEVER lie/distort or manipulate information or experiences. I seriously wonder why you chose to adopt such a demeaning 'I am better than thou and knowest more' bourgeoisie high-handed and insulting tone and response. Why read if you think I am bullshitting? Why visit my blog if you surmise I am an unethical liar? You can ask the thousands of students I have taught and they can tell you my stand about lies. Emails/hand phone numbers will be supplied for that purpose.

    Your caustic, sarcastic and response and inexperience with regards to airport experiences cast aspersions on your alleged profession as a pilot. One who allegedly flown to so many parts of the world, been there n seen so much of cultures, people and the diversity of life cannot have such a myopic view of one who cannot see beyond his nose.

    As a retired pilot, you seem to have enjoyed your retirement so much that you've forgotten that as a pilot who has flown hundreds of thousands of thousands of miles, your flying experience is different from that of ordinary passengers. As such, you should go down on bended knees and be thankful for all your hunky dory airport experiences and inject compassion and empathy into your heart and perspective instead of adopting such a condescending approach and thinking that you are the authority of anything and everything; all else comes to naught.

    Perhaps you should:

    A. Give yourself a knock on the head and Google for horrible
    Airport experiences. Then, you can enjoy reading the thousands of articles features at hundreds of thousands of websites.

    B. Try waiting at the airport for a minimum of SIX hours - not at premier lounges but at the open areas of LCCT.

    C. Try eating gingko to boost your memory or going to the house of worship of your faith to pray for better powers of recall because you have obviously forgotten:

    Firstly, as a pilot, you did not have to worry about any flight delays because you call the shots. Even as a retired pilot, you still enjoy special privileges.

    Secondly, as a pilot, only your co-pilot sits with you. If anyone else coughs where you are seated, your cockpit is surely spooked!

    As a retired pilot, you seem to have forgotten you enjoy special concessions and do not have to take low cost carriers nor do you have to endure the antics at low cost terminals unless it is your choice.

    But then again, such privileges seem to have given you a unrealistic perspective of reality hence your snooty and insensitive response. You must be one in a million cos my relatives and friends who are in the airline industry have shared more hair-raising experiences, even in trans-atlantic flights.

    Thirdly, it is obvious for the greater part of your flying profession, you did not have to wait with others like I had to hence you were cocooned in special waiting areas.

    Fourthly, you didn't need to visit the public toilets that ordinary passengers have to ensure for the same reasons related to your position as a pilot/retiree.

    Fifthly, security staff know you cos of your name tag as flight staff hence you enjoy preferential treatment.

    Sixthly, you don't need to listen to announcements cos of your position and propensity to be Mr.Know-All.

  1. says:

    MWS Part 2

    Seventhly, you don't have to go through such long waiting hours @ airports & even if you have to, you enjoy privileged waiting areas unlike plebeians like me.

    Eighthly, the same applies for dropping off luggage.

    Ninthly, as a pilot, you should have very good experiences of passengers who do not comply with security requirements art electronic devices. Your statement implies that you fly with docile passengers who never flaunt such regulations because crew and passengers tremble with fear and dread when sharing the ground that you trod or the air space that you fly.

    Finally, you have forgotten that as a pilot, you are the first to embark and the last to disembark.

    Maybe you should visit the optometrist to check your vision, take deep breaths and realise that not everybody is as "privileged" or has an axe to grind like you.

    May you be enlightened as a sojourner in this life and it costs nothing to be kind or to share good/bad experiences with others.

    God bless.

  1. says:

    Bunny Ho Ho Ho!!!

    And A Merry Christmas To You Too.

  1. says:

    MWS Kakaka....thank you....I always love your comments cryptic, know-all or whatever cos any intellectual stimulation keeps me mentally agile. For sure, I will have a great X'mas cos it's my birthday!!!

    Blessed Christmas to you and your family.

    God bless.

  1. says:

    Bunny MWS, you read Sarcasm when there was none.
    You read Condescension when there was none.
    You read Superiority when there was none.

    I merely pointed out that I have been more fortunate than you when travelling.

    As for the flower petals it was to "buang sial."

    FYI I retired many years ago and have travelled "cattle class" many many times. But, as I've said, I've been more fortunate than you.

    With the introduction of "now everybody can fly" we do have passengers who have not had the privileges of the elite class who travel frequently on commercial airlines. Maybe a bit of empathy would go a long way.

    I wasn't ranting, just observing.

  1. says:

    masterwordsmith Thank you for your clarification, Bunny.

    In communication, the meaning is always in the person reading the message and it may not be necessarily the same as what the sender intended. This is what I teach in my class and in this scenario, it is proven to be true. Hence, I am sorry I read sarcasm and condescension in your first response.

    At the same time, I do fly very often once every few weeks or alternate months except I do not write about it. However, of all my flying experiences, the one I had last night was certainly the worst.

    And it happened exactly like how I wrote.

    I have had only two other bad experiences. Last year, a major airline postponed and then cancelled my flight and I missed my connecting flight with another carrier. Consequently, I had to fork out abt RM1k for a new ticket home. A two-month battle ensued and finally, the first airline reimbursed me the amount I had to pay together with an apology. In another case, a carrier damaged my luggage and I was outraged when after all the form-filling etc etc, they paid me 200 bahts for damages.

    Flying is not a nice experience. I don't like it but have to fly for work and family purposes.

    The air in planes is the most unhealthy and anything can happen on a flight.

    And, I have travelled on both low cost and established airlines, some from the latter have horrible service and have been told to go get my drinks/sandwiches on my own on a flight to Paris as the crew continued their chatter in the galley. I did just that and had ample supply of canned juice to last me for two days!

    And, I was sharing my experiences for others to be prepared for the horror house during the peak season.

    I was scheduled for Guangchow next week but have cancelled the trip after this experience.

    Nothing is better than home sweet home.

    Take care and God bless.

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