Monday, 15 March 2010

Back Into The Steamer

It may be true to say that people in most countries joke about their national airlines. "Mana Ada Sistem" even made it to the Parliamentary hansard back in the nineties.

I had experienced flight delays before and have learnt to tolerate a few hours of inconvenience. With Air Asia, especially on domestic routes, do expect cancellations and re-timings without explanation. Delays get longer and longer the later the time of your flight departure as flights tend get back-logged during the course of the day.

When British Airways was BOAC something like half a century ago, my late father's British boss used to say it was "Better On A Camel". Remember when PIA, the Pakistani carrier, was leased to fly some of our Haj pilgrims to Saudi Arabia, the in thing then was to say "Perhaps I Arrive" or "Please Inform Allah".

My husband was unfortunate to have to fly with SABENA, the Belgian airline, when the transport workers were on strike. Those days porters controlled the trolleys and you had to tip them as well. But no porter or trolley was around for hubby and he had to lug his no-wheelie suitcase around by himself. It was "Such A Bad Experience, Never Again" and this was echoed by a Belgian lady we met years later.

And so too with the Kazakhstanis, one said that she we would be very, very happy indeed if her Air Astana flight is only one-hour delayed. Another couldn't understand that we flew the airline on our way over to Kazakhstan. He himself took a Middle-Eastern carrier.

And I must admit though that they are very justified to feel as they do.

Only with Air Astana had we been delayed by 24 whole hours i.e 1 whole day. That was on the flight TO their beautiful country. And a meeting had to be missed.

For my journey home, the 9pm domestic flight from Astana to Almaty I was booked on was cancelled. That flight would have given me a comfortable 2 hours 15 minutes to connect to the Almaty-KL one.  Turned out that  passengers were re-assigned to the 10pm flight giving me only one-hour to recheck-in at Almaty upon arrival. And what if the 10pm was delayed?

Well,  the pretty ticket agent I saw at the Air Astana office was kind enough to put me on an earlier flight instead even though there were many already on the waiting list. Thanking her, I proceeded to check-in and requested my baggage to be checked through to KL. With furrowed brow, the young lady manning the counter managed to print-out a luggage tag bearing the the word MALTA. Aghast I told her the correct code for Kuala Lumpur which is KUL. Imagine my bag vacationing in Malta without me - I cannot allow that.

Looks like the correct airport

Upon arrival in Almaty, I hung around at the luggage carousel on a hunch. And yes, there  was my bag, all 19.6 kgs of it (400 gms short of the 20 kg limit for excess) with it's bright yellow transfer label, waiting to be picked up. I would have thought that they would intercept it before putting it there, apparently they did not.  Anyway I grabbed it, and wheeled it to the International check-in area and waited for the announcement. According to the display monitor, the KL-bound flight was on time.

When the announcement came, the monitor displayed a DELAY of one hour. And no one rattled. Not even me - after 3 weeks I had become like a Kazakhstani. You are thankful for an hour's delay. And the reason for the delay? They were waiting for the 10pm flight coming in from Astana! The one that I was to have been off-loaded to...

Eventually the flight took off one hour 30 minutes later than originally scheduled.

Aaaah.... Air Astana - Always Slow To Arrive,......... Never Again?

I'm not sure.

I love the subdued  manner of the Kazakhstanis during the flights, the well-behaved children and their  squeals of delight as the aircraft flew into little pockets of turbulence during the descent, and their gasps of "Waaah" when they saw our lush green landscapes as the plane emerged from the clouds (the way I had done when I first set eyes on their snow-covered ones).

I liked the Captain's announcement at the end of each flight -  "Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for flying Air Astana, the flight is completed".

 Yes,  so too is my trip: completed.

And somehow it IS nice to be out of the freezer and back into the steamer.

Here's Syirah trying out my body-warmer


Capt's Longhouse said...

,,,selamat pulang

Zendra-Maria said...

Capn, Tq, bet Kapas is even steamier :D

Tommy Yewfigure said...

Halo-halo Zee, welcome back too, bet u miss steamy KL & its exotic 'uncertainties'..hahaha. Wah u spoke with authority macam frequent high flyer :) Hmmmm BOAC what about Pan-Am or our very own MSA.


Tommy, Mile High Club?????? :)) never lah (terkejut..hehehe)!

Zendra-Maria said...

Tommy, only 3 weeks away - what to miss but mee goreng mamak with telor mata and teh halia! Actually I don't like flying much, hate the waits and the encapsulation :) But love being in a different climate

Mile High Club your fantasy kah?

mamasita said...

Hai Zen..its so nice to have you back home!

You're a coolant in the radiator!

Tommy Yewfigure said...

Ya-lor, maybe go see Mr Roarke & Tattoo at Fantasy Island, my fantasy to be fulfilled on/in an Airbus A380, lots of room mah, 1st class then can play "Orchestral Manoeuvres in the dark"...hehehe.


Zendra-Maria said...

Coolant in a hot radiator? Why thanks mamasita... just so as not to overheat yah?

Zendra-Maria said...

May your fantasies come true in your dreams, Tommy...