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GBE-JNB-SIN, er no, JNB-HKG-SIN, er no, JNB-DXB...still no

GBE-JNB-SIN, er no, JNB-HKG-SIN, er no, JNB-DXB...still no

Old Apr 6, 10, 7:25 am
  #1  
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Join Date: Apr 2010
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GBE-JNB-SIN, er no, JNB-HKG-SIN, er no, JNB-DXB...still no

hi everyone,
came across this from references in SQTalk, and have in fact 1st posted this there, but thought it could serve a cautionary tale to wider audience here

--------------

Introduction
After 5 days here, my hosts drove me to the airport for the GBE (Gaborone, Botswana) flight to JNB, and connecting flight to SIN. South African Express SA1764 [this little detail will prove pertinent later in the story] was supposed to be a 1 hr hop on DASH8. Scheduled to take off at 11:05am, my hosts and I arrived at GBE at 09:40am. As we were checking in, an announcement was made that the flight's cancelled.

Now imagine a small single-story airport packed with passengers trying to check in. Next to "FIRE, FIRE", this was probably the best way to start a pandemonium. And that's exactly what happened. The whole airport exploded with protests and shouts.

My Botswana hosts were in their elements, getting ahead of the near-stampede to get to the SA Express office to find out what was happening. Apparently, the inbound DASH8 had broken down and so there was to be no plane out. The next available flight was a Air Botswana flight ETD 13:00. So the queue - best described as chaos in my opinion - was to get prioritised on this.


SA Express office, with residual crowd; most have begun to crowd the Air Botswana desk for re-booking, including yrs truly who took this from the queue


the small GBE cafe, where each bumped off pax is awarded Botswana Pula 30 of F&B


Hitch - Air Botswana AP205 would only land in JNB at 14:30; and SQ479 was scheduled to depart JNB for SIN at 14:35, and its the only daily direct flight. The SA Express agent said there's nothing he could do; I told myself - SMILE - and then raised my voice, "Can you organise me out to HKG, PER, DXB, BOM, anywhere, so i can catch a connecting flight to SIN." He, "all economy flights full." I, "I'm on Business class." He, clikketty-clakkety on the only PC in the office, while pax behind me call their wives, their mothers, their agents, their... Printer came alive, you know, the dot-matrix type that the karang guni man collects to collect dust. Tear off. Agent, "Sir, you can catch SA286 JNB-HKG, and CX735 HKG-SIN, eta SIN 18:10". Sigh, guess that's the only way. Lost an entire day - SQ479 was supposed to land Sat 27 Mar at 07:05am; now I'll only reach SIN 18:10.


departing from GBE gates

coming up GBE-JNB on AP205
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Old Apr 6, 10, 7:26 am
  #2  
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GBE-JNB via Air Botswana AP205

GBE-JNB
Air Botswana AP205
Aircraft: B737-200
Class: Economy
Seat: 19D (free seating!)


AP205 was supposed to be another prop - guy who eventually sat next to me told me that - but cos of the backlog from SA Express, AP pulled out their B737-200. Guy who sat next to me told me in all his 5 years in and out of the country, this was the 1st he's on a jet.





view of cabin

In a country with so few whites - i can count the whites i've seen with all my fingers in the 5 days i was here, and according to my hosts, they were all South Africans - the FAs were all whites save a Botswana.




Plane pushed off 13:35, and we were rolling down the runway within 5 mins. ATCs here must be among the free-iest pple around.

Once the seatbelt sign was off, FAs rolled out the snacks. The packet of biltong is beef jerkey, aka beef ba kwa


At 14:15, the plane began its descent into JNB.

Touched down exactly at 14:30, just in time to catch SQ479 pushing off. sigh.


coming up next JNB-HKG, or so i thought
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Old Apr 6, 10, 7:31 am
  #3  
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DXB transfer desk

JNB-HKG, no JNB-DXB...
Headed to South African Airways Transfer Desk upon landing abt 14:40pm. As expected, the SAA agent which GBE SA Express had promised wasnt there to receive the plane-load of bumped off pax.

Fortunately, my flights were in C - cos the entire desk was packed with pple - and i could join the Premium Class desk. And then the whole thing became undone.

Agent: "Sir, where are you going?"
I: "HKG"
Agent: "You are not booked on flight to HKG"
I: "What do you mean. See this tear-out from your GBE office put me on the flight to HKG"
Agent: "What's your e-ticket no?"
I: "Can i give you my flight reference?"
Agent: "No, e-ticket no."

I ended up calling my guys in the office to check this out, while turning on my phone's WiFi to pull out the PNR. 1st time after flying so many years I'm encountering this. Btw, above dialogue was a paraphrase - the SAA agents were the rudest pple I've ever come across. The guy who was next to me on AP205 was cussing under his breadth.

He was heading CDG and with this bumping off had just missed his flight. While GBE SA Express issued him a printout for JNB-CDG the next day, the SAA system here in JNB shows him on JNB-FRA-CDG tonight, but on Y. And the SAA counter staff, including their team captain was very abrasive and rude. I told my partner-in-adversity: in Singapore, these guys would have been fired; he said, they would have been fired anywhere else in the world.

Finally, SAA agent turned to me: "ok, we will send 2 girls to walk over to Terminal B - you cant go over [there's a security screening after the Transfer Desk] - and they will manually print out the BP for you. You wait here." I wished my partner well, and took a seat.


pic of SAA Transfer Desk when i was waiting for the girls to come back with my BP. Guy at left of SAA counter was my partner-in-adversity; the very rude SAA agent is just walking past when i snapped, sufficiently to have his image blurred out.


10 mins later, the girls returned, the agent was genuinely happy for me, i was happy for myself. Then he looked up after spattering of dont-know-wat Bantu language (one of the stranded pax with me was Botswana and told me its was Bantu) between them: "Sir, they still cant get e-ticket no, so they cant issue you BP." I, "What do you mean? You told me I was on the plane already." Agent, "Yes, you are on the plane, but there's no e-ticket no, so even if i let you go to the gate, they will bump you off cos you dont have e-ticket no."

I had been keeping the travel guys in my office updated on this. At this juncture, I asked them - can i just buy a ticket and we sort this out with the insurance when i return? They say, yes, go ahead.

I told the Team Leader, ok, i'll buy the ticket. He said, "We have to go to Terminal B to buy the ticket [remember the 2 girls' stroll in the park?] How do you want to pay?" I, "Credit Card" He, "You trust us with your card?" I, "Do I have a choice?" I took out my Amex, signed an empty authorisation form. And then...

"Sorry sir, they are already boarding, so I cant sell you ticket now." "BUT didnt your agent say I was already on the plane and only e-ticket no was missing? And its only 15:50, a good 30 mins before schedule." Team Leader, clikkety-clakkety on the PC: "Because gate was closing, they have released your seat and filled it with wait-listed."

i was speechless.

I asked, "What do you advise me to do?" Team Leader, "You wait for SQ to re-open tomorrow and book that." I, "And you'll put me up in the transit hotel?" TLeader, "No, you are booked on SQ, and since you missed SQ, SAA will not bear costs of your missed flight." I,"But its your SA Express that caused me to miss my flight." TLdr, "No, SAA is SAA, SA Express is SA Express. We also will not bear costs of that gentleman [my partner-in-adversity] accommodation."

I,"What abt PER? Or DXB, BOM, anywhere that I can connect to SIN". TLdr,"There's a EK to DXB leaving at 19:00". I, "Can you book me on EK then?" TLdr, "No, this is SQ's revenue, not SAA, so we will not bear costs."

I gave up. I called up my travel guys in office and told them this latest. Its now 16:00 JNB, ie 22:00 SIN time. These guys have been tracking my situation since I told them the GBE bumping off at 10:00 JNB/16:00 SIN. They began searching all ways to get me back to SIN.

Got to the EK counter, long queue, including some familiar faces - yes, you guess it, the guys who were bumped off the GBE SA Express. Counter wasnt manned at all, and there's a queue of a good 30 pax.



My travel guys sms-ed, there's connection from DXB to SIN. Thought of an idea, rather than I buy tickets here, can they booked the tickets for me and I'll just collect the BP? They got onto it.

16:50 desk opened. I asked my travel guys, "How are we doing?" They, " Working on it, both sectors really full, but we are trying our best. Stand-by." Pax ahead of me moved. I, "Guys, how are we doing?"
"Good news! We've got you booked! Both sectors, still on C"
"Thanks so much guys. What's the PNR and e-ticket no [I'm not going to be had again]."
"Standby"



Pax moving, pax moving, 3 more to go. "Guys, can we have that PNR and e-ticket no?"
"Coming up"

Pax moving, pax moving, 1 more to go. "Guys?"
"ok, here's your PNR."
"thanks so much, great job!"

Counter. Agent, "Where are you going sir?"
"DXB-SIN. My guys just booked tickets for me, can i give you PNR?"
"No need sir, can i have your passport?"
"Sir, what's your e-ticket no?"
Not again.

Call travel guys, "I need the e-ticket no." Meanwhile, told the agent the whole story. The guys bumped off at GBE are beside me, all stuck. Apparently, when the SA Express agent in GBE issued the print-outs with connecting flights, these were not actually booked! He was just trying to shirk us off!

And then, Agent:"Ah system has just updated your e-ticket no. [Smile] Do you want to write it down?" Hell yes!

BPs issued, including DXB-SIN, "Sir, you are invited to the EK Lounge. Have a pleasant flight."

I called my travel guys, its now 22:30 in SIN. Thanks so much guys, for pulling together to get me so far.

And then called the wife. I'll be home after all, just a little later, I hope.

And so here am I, at the EK Lounge in JNB, praying that everything upcoming will be smooth. pls say amen.

Last edited by jammed; Apr 15, 10 at 1:47 am Reason: merge
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Old Apr 6, 10, 7:31 am
  #4  
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JNB-DXB- dont know whether will make connection

in the previous episode...
picking up from where we left off, i was - thanks to the great travel guys from my office - booked on EK766 departing JNB on Fri 26 Mar 22:20 and eta DXB on Sat 27 Mar 08:20, and connecting EK404 etd DXB 09:40 and eta SIN 20:50. With this return secured, i had headed to the EK lounge to rest some.

At abt 21:00, I checked the boarding time and gate no, when i discovered - horror of horrors - EK766 was delayed! and by a good 1 hr! High risk of me missing EK404.

I ask the Lounge lady whether i'll be missing connecting but she's obviously the wrong person to know.

I headed to the gate eventually, and after the long security screening - there's no separate queue for premium pax -
i asked the gate agents what's EK766's eta DXB. They didnt know; and no, they also didnt know if I'll miss connecting flights.

"Can you call ahead to DXB to arrange for earliest connections to neighbouring destinations pl?" i asked.

"You asked the FAs in the plane," was told.

--------------------

JNB-DXB
Flight: EK766
Aircraft: Airbus A340-500
Class: C
Seat: 6A


A glimpse of my JNB-DXB ride.

Plane had apparently arrived late, 1 hr to be precise, and is now expected to arrive at 09:20, which wld be in time for me to see my connecting EK404 to SIN push back (again!) at 09:40. Wonder if pilots could speed up to make up for lost time; if they could claw back 30 mins, i wld prob still make it.

This was to be my 1st EK flight and i like view of cabin upon boarding. Seat 6A, with accompanying 6B for perspective.

space between seats is actually alright - guy who eventually sat next to me was rather, shall we say, big, but didnt feel he intruded into my space. When i had to use the lav and he was asleep, I did have to cross over his legs. But mine was 1st row bulkhead seats; didnt take a look at regular seats to see if it wld be tough getting out over a sleeper-mode seat.



Forgot to time pushback and take-off, but you'll understand my mind's pretty pre-occupied with connections and also rather weary at this point.

Found the ICE (Info, Comms, Entertainment) rather interesting, if not altogether user-friendly, perhaps due to my unfamilarity.

Both the screen and the hand-held are touch-screen, tho i find navigating the cursor with the handheld's directional keys rather cumbersome. maybe i'm doing it wrong.

once i found the FAs settled down, i caught hold of one to ask our ETA into DXB. Was told it shd be 09:20 which was 1 hr behind schedule. I told him I had a connection to catch at 09:40 - he tried to assure me that EK staff at DXB wld be prepared for us since the whole plane-load wld be missing connections. I had by then found a timetable in the seat-pocket, and asked FA to call ahead to arrange for KUL-bound departing at 10:xx from DXB, or if not to arrange for CGK or BKK or HKG. He said he wld do his best.

i fell asleep soon after taking off, giving the 'dinner' (at 23:++!!!) a miss. When i woke, discovered i managed to sleep some 5 hrs +; the sun was rising


A peek into the lav, and close up on the toothbrush set

thot such a large tube of toothpaste for a use-and-throw rather wasteful

continental breakfast, consisting of bread basket and fruit platter


Plane began descend protocol soon after and Dubai (well, i assume) came into view


We landed at 09:20 - pilots hadnt made up for lost time at all - and by the time we were at the gate, it was close to 09:40. i was 1st off the plane, thanks to being at 6A; 6B was terminating his journey at DXB and when he heard my plight earlier had helpfully pointed the way to the transfer desk, offered additional ideas and step aside to let me off the door ahead of us.

so, off i went, in a near sprint, and was the 1st to be at the Transfer Desk. And in time to confirm the obvious; EK404 had indeed taken off.
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Old Apr 6, 10, 7:32 am
  #5  
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DXB Transfer Desk...

DXB Transfer Desk
I was not the 1st at the transfer desk - some guys from 1st were apparently affected too. Having confirmed EK404 was off, I asked if I cld be put on the KUL-bound, and then make a connection into SIN thereafter.

EK agent, "Hang on sir, let me check" clikkety-clakkety on the PC
"Sir, the flight's full. We have arranged for you to take the next SIN-bound flight, at 02:00 (DXB time) and you can stay in the transit hotel in the meantime."

I, "What time will i arrive in SIN?"
She,"7am tomorrow. That's the best."
I,"What abt CGK, BKK..."

At this point, i happened to hear pax next to me told next available BKK flight was only scheduled for the next day.

She,"Let me check on CGK." After a while, "Sir, we can put you to CGK but there's no connections to SIN till tomorrow anyway, and you'll only arrive at 11:00am instead of 7am."

I, "What abt HKG, or BOM..."
She, "Sir, this is really the best option..."
I, "Are there really no seats on the KUL?"
She, "No sir, its full in C and even in Y."
Sigh. Hey, wait a min... "What abt F?"
She, "hmm, hang on... Yes, there're seats in F."
I, "Can you put me in F?"
She, "er, hang on, let me check."
Turned ard to speak with supervisor; Super didnt hesitate, "no."

I, "You have empty seats in F, if you put me on that plane, all of us will save ourselves the hassle of all these."
Super, "Plane's boarding anyway, and we cant put anyone on it anymore."

Sigh. "I told your gate agent in JNB to call ahead to arrange for KUL-bound, and when i was on the plane, I told your FA to call ahead for the KUL again."

Super, "We didnt receive any calls." I sighed.

She asked, "Do you have any luggage?"
I, "No, only hand luggage, all here with me."

She picked up the phone, "Can you still take on 'gibberish code'? You sure? Ok, i'll see if ticketing can still issue tickets."

She picked up walkie-talkie, "'gibberish' can take onboard blah blah blah, can you issue tickets double quick time? You can? ok, i'll put pax on then."

Agent was quick to catch on, clikkety-clakkety on the PC, and the printer sprang to life. She tore it off, "Sir, you go to Gate [i cant remember now], as fast as you can, and we shd have your BP to be picked up at the gate."

Its 10:05 by now, and the plane was to take off at 10:30. I thanked both of them profusely, and took off between a hop and a run. And I sailed through the deserted corridors of humungous DXB.

That is until the alarms went off.

"&+$%jkhiu6))##$%", shouted the security guys. uh-oh, i've inadvertently gone through a security scanner without even realising it.

"So sorry, so sorry," off came the jacket, mobile, cam, etc, onto the conveyer belt, into the x-ray, go thru the scanner - beep beep beep - "step this way sir," touch-touch, frisk-frisk , "ok sir."

Out came the trolley, the briefcase, the tray of mobile, wallet, jacket... put them together, and i'm off. Shucks, lost 5 min there.

Finally reached the gate, and its one of those scenes where the plane was abt to depart - no pax in sight, only 1 gate agent.

"Hi, I was directed here by Transfer," "Sir?" she asked. I repeated, adding "The Supervisor [name] sent me." She referred me to a guy whom I have not noticed at all and said "The Supervisor [name] arabic..."

The guy faced me, "You [name]?"
"Yes," i said.
He asked, "You have luggage?"
"No, dont have; only hand lugagge, all here with me."
"You wait," he picked up walkie, "blah blah blah, do you have F meals for one more pax?"

I jumped in,"I dont need the meals, i just need to get on the plane, give me the Y food."

Guy, "Yes, ok? Alright. Sir, hang on .... your seat is 1A."

I was onboard at 10:15; you'll understand there's no pic here at all.

Last edited by jammed; Apr 15, 10 at 1:48 am
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Old Apr 6, 10, 7:32 am
  #6  
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DXB Transfer Desk...

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Old Apr 6, 10, 7:34 am
  #7  
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DXB-KUL via EK342

DXB-KUL
Flight: EK342
Aircraft: B77W
Class: F
Seat: 1K


I was welcomed onboard by very friendly FA; i was just esctatic to make it. FA conducted me to turn left, into F cabin. I've never been to this part of the world, so you'll understand the wah and whoas in a while. But we discovered 1A was taken by a gentleman; FA was quick and she said, "We have an empty seat here all to yourself," and brought me to 1K. Actually, the whole F was occupied by 3 pax including yrs truly.


my oh my, picture cant cover the TV screen in front! and i forgot to bring a measuring tape


A view from 1K towards port:


on the left and to the front of the seat is a cabinet, stowed with

the ICE handheld remote controller, bottled drinks, and below that headset and sefety-card.

From my starboard window as we pushed back was this EK A388


Now that I'm more settled, having more time to snap away, more EK planes getting into take-off positions. Noticed - and pls correct me if i'm wrong - that DXB is [cld be] having 3 parallel runways, and at one point noticed 2 EKs taking off one behind the other from 2 runways, almost like fighter jet scrambling off, beautiful sight, but my fingers were too slow


Noticed movie and tv selections on EK were not too great - perhaps again conditioned by my familiarity with SQ - apart from Up in the Air which I watched on the inbound, didnt find the titles very appealing. As a CSI fan - though not a regular audience - found 2 of the 4 episodes on offer to be from earlier seasons; and I dont like CSI Miami. Anyway, settled on this Korean Sword with No Name which turned out to be a gem. Followed by this Japanese Amalfi

At abt 17:00pm KUL time [had wound watch to arrival time] I decided to have my dinner. 1st course - between choice of Iranian caviar and lobster salad [and something else, forgot to snap menu], i opted for latter


look at the size of that table! next up, Main Course, Grilled Salmon


finishing off with Tiramisu over Choc Brownie [something like that; anyone know whether EK's menu are accessible online]


Interestingly, found the F toilet to be less impressive in lay-out than the previous A345 C tho I dont have pics for comparison; also, as this was not an overnight flight, there was no amenity kit.

We began our descent soon after, and landed at KUL abt 20:30pm - I'm so much nearer home now.


to be continued
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Old Apr 6, 10, 7:34 am
  #8  
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DXB-KUL via EK342

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Last edited by jammed; Apr 15, 10 at 1:50 am
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Old Apr 6, 10, 7:35 am
  #9  
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one hop away

on landing at KUL at abt 20:30, i discovered from the departures list that there's a SIN-bound shuttle ETD 21:20, even though my booked SQ5609 was scheduled for 22:45. I havent taken a KUL-SIN shuttle for 5 years now and was totally unfamiliar with the procedures etc. but wanted to try if i cld get on board this earlier flight.

I headed for the Transfer Desk - there were only counters for MH (2 counters), KLM and EK (1 each). The EK agent was this young guy who knew nothing but the KLM agent next to him told me that I didnt need BP for KUL-SIN shuttle, just needed to head to the gate. Its abt 20:40 by now but i made a beeline for the gate which the Departures screen was flashing boarding. Arriving in time to see the last batch of pax being boarded, I nevertheless went thru security screening, presented my EK printouts to the gate agents and asked if I could be put onboard.

The guys said Y was full but when they realised mine was C told me they had to check whether there were sufficient meals. deja vu! I declared I didnt need any meals - its a 1 hrs flight at most afterall - whereby they clikkety-clack on the PC.

Then the guy behind the PC said, "Sir, cant put you on board cos yr ticket is EK code-share with SQ; this is a MI flight."

Huh? er, isn't MI a subsidiary of SQ?
"No sir, your e-ticket no. dont allow us to pull out the ticket from the system."
Not this e-ticket again. "Is the SQ gate agent ard?"
"No sir, SQ agents are at ticketing."
sigh, guess i'll have to wait for my 22:45 afterall.

With abt 90 mins to go, I headed to gate C11 shown on Departures as that for SQ5609 (code share and operated by MH). But there's no one there, no agent and pax gathered ard there were waiting for neighbouring gates to open.

I decided to head for the SQ Lounge, only to discover its closed after departure of the last flight, prob that MI. Passed by the Plaza Premium Lounge, which - as the placard at the entrance was showing - was inviting AMEX KF members in, but I thot maybe I shd explore the MH Lounge instead.

Arriving at the MH Lounge on the opposite end of the SQ Lounge, I was received by 2 receptionists. They took my print-out (from EK at Dubai) and... suddenly, one of them looked up...

"Sir, this print-out says your SQ5609 is for tomorrow, see here 28 Mar [today's Sat 27 Mar]."
GOODNESS! "How can that be? Let me see."

Oh yes, the print-out does read SQ5609 28 Mar. But then the EK342 I just came in from DXB was also printed out as 28 Mar.

I quickly pointed this out to them, while the other seemingly more experienced lady checked her PC.

"Sir, system here says you are flying tonight, dont worry."

Phew, I didnt rush so many thousand miles just to spend the night here - SQ5609 was the last KUL-SIN for the whole day.

"But sir, you better go over to the gate now."
"But there's no one at gate C11."
"Sir, its been changed to gate H13, and you have to take the air-train over."
My goodness! Am I glad I came over to the MH Lounge.

So off I went, walking as briskly as I cld, navigating between the tourists browsing through the various duty-free. Hopped onto a air-train, and thankfully was quickly delivered to the main terminal building where H gates are located. Was soon at H13 and gate has just opened.

with such an experience, naturally no time to even fish out my cam.
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Old Apr 6, 10, 7:35 am
  #10  
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one hop away

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Last edited by jammed; Apr 15, 10 at 1:50 am
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Old Apr 6, 10, 7:36 am
  #11  
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home run

KUL-SIN
Flight: SQ5609 (code share MH)
Aircraft: B737
Class: C
Seat: 2F


At the gate, was told I was the only C pax :smile:


Boarding followed, and I found myself in the totally empty C cabin


compliments to SQFG naturally, from seat 2F:


FA offered me a drink - i asked for water - she had juices but none i prefered and I didnt remember hearing alcohol [are MH flights dry cos its Malaysian national carrier?]

I didnt take note of the time for push-back and take-off, was quite drained physically and emotionally really, and was just glad we are on the home lap.

After the seatbelt sign was switched off, FA brought out the refreshment - she offered me coffee or tea, but I opted for water again:

just to put words to the pic, its some cheese and smoked salmon on baguette; i honestly cant make out what i was eating from the bowl of dessert. Pocketed the Ferraro Roche to hopefully get a smile from the wife.

We came in from the south and I discovered too late - seatbelt sign was on - that the City and East Coast coast line was breezing past on the port side. Wheels down at 23:40 - i did notice this time - and what a fantastic feeling to be finally home.

Off the plane abt 5 mins later, through T2, passport control, into a cab, and finally reach the door at 00:20. :smile:


I had checked out of the hotel in Gaborone, Botswana at abt 09:00 on Friday 26 Mar (SIN 15:00). From that point till my foot crossed through my door, I have been on the move for a total of 33 hrs, been on board 4 flights and in 5 cities. I am sure there are guys out there who've been through worst than this - just heard in office y'day that some of our guys were held up in US for abt 20+ hrs.

What I have not mentioned thus far is I have 2 very young kids - 3 and 1 - and no domestic help. Wife had gotten her mum to spend the nights while I was away and this last adventure had totally spoiled plans my in-laws had drawn up for the weekend. Wife had also been worried from the moment my 1st sms abt the flight cancellation reached her, and at various junctures seemed as if I'm not making it home. We are all thankful that I made it home.:smile:

and i can finally say, the end
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Old Apr 6, 10, 7:36 am
  #12  
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home run

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Last edited by jammed; Apr 15, 10 at 1:52 am
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Old Apr 25, 10, 3:48 pm
  #13  
 
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Wow, quite an adventure!
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Old Apr 26, 10, 9:14 am
  #14  
 
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Wow great to hear you made it back ok! Fantastic TR

Thanks!
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Old Apr 26, 10, 9:34 am
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Great report! That was quite an adventure... like watching an episode of The Amazing Race.
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