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Sunday, July 11, 2010

UNpleasant experience with the Flight and at the airport!

It has been a very long time since I flew Air Asia; in fact it has been 2 years since I last took a flight with this World/Asia's best low-cost airline and I can't remember why, perhaps I have been enjoying the privilege from business trips to travel with MAS and even when on personal trips, I chose Fireflyz due to the distance to airport.
(Subang airport is considerably nearer compared to driving all the way to Sepang)

Recently, I had the opportunity to enjoy a short little break for myself to release the accumulated tension and stress (from work) and I was planning a trip to go home and spend some time with family and just, relaxing, doing nothing at all.

I could only finalize my annual leave at the very last minute (yeah, I have a lot of things to do and I had to be sure things are okay before I confirm my little break) and that left me with no choice but to brace myself for the higher fares for flights heading back to the city.
(I was not allowed to drive on my own, says parents and everyone else around me)

So, I went online, checked for Fireflyz and realized with dismay that the prices have not just gone high, it has gone ROCKET high and it way surpassed my budget.
Just when I was considering whether to make this trip home or not (I know I had to, I do not want to let my family down...I had told my Mum I will be home and it has been a while since I spent more than 2 days at home), I was suddenly reminded, I could check out Air Asia's fares as well.

I clicked and prayed hard, and thank God (HE heard and answered my prayers, thank you!), the fares were considerably cheaper and I could save almost RM100 for the return trip!

I immediately booked the flights and was really happy that I even managed to get the promo tickets for the returning flight (despite me having to leave early on my last day, which I seldom do as I am always homesick when that comes)

So, all my flights were early, and I was scheduled to fly off on Wednesday morning (Penang Heritage Day, which did I mention I love my company for declaring this holiday official for us? =)
My flight was at 7.30.am in the morning and I arrived in high spirits; at 6.00a.m. and proceeded to check in.

When I went to the counter to check in, the staff told me that the flight would be delayed (which I blogged about in my previous post) and so, yeah, I had to wait for more than an hour at the Penang International Airport, which, apart from its name, had nothing at all at that hour in the morning.

Fine, I was fine with waiting, but I just felt guilty for having my parents to wait at the LCCT for my arrival.

Okay, that was done and the anger was released in the previous post.

I heard during the flight that 9th-11th July 2010 is the scheduled period for Air Asia's system upgrade and all passengers traveling during this period should be at the airport at least 3 hours earlier to check in to avoid any issue.

I thought to myself, "Okay, I rarely had much time to fly back on relaxation purpose and it had to be this time that they upgrade their system???"

Well, I had no choice and come Sunday morning, I had to wake up at 4-5am to get ready to head to the airport at 6 for a 9.30am flight.
Yes, that's how crazy it was, and as my brother jokingly said, "3 Hours to check in for a domestic flight, what, you're the pilot meh??"

Yeah, dear brother, I was glad I was early, as despite that early hour, we had a lot of obstacles:
1. Road to airport was closed, and we had to re-route (thankfully we did not get lost)
2. Car park at airport was full, and we managed to find a space to squeeze through finally
3. The airport was in chaos - screens went blank everywhere, which the security guard informed my dad, was due to a power failure that morning and also, the system synchronization which led to the system crashing a few times

When I reached the airport, I almost panicked when I saw the status for my check in counter was 'CLOSED' and I regretted not coming even earlier.

Okay, that was just a small scare on my part, it was closed because it was not even open yet that time..LOL! =P

Anyway, on the screen, it was written, counter R57 (yeah, only one counter) and I proceeded to the security check area and then to that particular counter.

Screens went blank again and I spotted a really short queue at R57; I was passenger no.3 in that line, well, what can one expect at 7.15am, when the flight's scheduled at 9.35 am, right?

I waited and waited, and there was nothing, and no one there, despite the few other lanes having staffs checking in passengers to other destinations (R55 checking in an earlier flight bound to Penang and R58-59 checking in KK passengers)

Then the screens flickered and R56-R57 counters read our flight number and destination.

Anyway, most of us queued at R57 because that was what we read on the main screen and slowly, there was a short line forming.

Then there was a bunch of people standing near R56 counter and talking among themselves.

I was even watching a few passengers haggle with the staffs at the counter R55 and R58 and looking at the Air Asia Ground staff walking back and forth and fidgeting with their pc (obviously they were frustrated as well)
One group of people was even scolded by the staff as they were late to check in and their counter had been closed.

That was a short row there as the staff just redirected them to another counter, well, little did I expect, I would soon be having a little of a drama myself in a short while.

YEAH, in case you were wondering, I stood there patiently in the queue, while my poor parents traipsed around the whole airport (there's nothing much anyway in that small airport) and observed every single shop, restaurant and most probably everyone there.

7.30 am, 8.00am, and there was finally one lady making her way towards our counter R57 and she started up the system.

She took some time and it was 8.20-8.25 am before she finally beckoned for check in.

REMEMBER that group of people I told you who stood by R56 counter?

Well, they were also heading to Penang, and the queue at R56 counter had merged into R57, when most of them realized that R57 is the one with an actual staff to check in, well, almost all anyway, EXCEPT for this group of people and it was not surprising that when the first group in OUR queue started to head towards the counter, they steered their trolleys towards us.

Now, there was this tall and sturdy Caucasian guy right in front of me who was even earlier than me and he must have stood there for almost 3 hours?
He gave them a cold stare as they headed towards the bunch of ladies, who were the first in OUR queue.

The staff shooed him away and beckoned him to follow the queue.

My dad was beside me, helping me with my luggage and he warned me that these people are about to jump into our queue.

The staff proceeded to check in the first group and my dad went to inform the security guard that there may be chaos.

The security guard came and this fat guy in yellow shirt started arguing with him that they just followed the screen above the counter and queued at R56 as well.
He said it is not his fault that they only opened one counter and that they should arrange for one passenger from each side to check in, to make it all fair.

The guard told him that he cannot do that, as there is a also a queue at R57 counter and that he has to make arrangements with the people queueing up there.

During this commotion, it was the Caucasian guy's turn and he quickly made his way up to the counter.

While the guy was there, this queue-jumper-wannabe was steering his trolley towards him which means, he was trying to cut my turn!

He pushed his trolley right behind the guy, while I was still standing behind the yellow line (yeah, too obedient, huh?)

When the Caucasian guy was done, he just pushed himself towards the counter and my dad pushed me and went forward as well.

He slammed 6 passports in front of the counter and I handed my piece of paper with my flight confirmation over to the staff at the SAME time!

My dad said, "sini" and that guy rudely snapped, "SINI dulu"

The staff looked up and it was a SHE, a really short and petite Malay lady as well, who also snapped, "Dia seorang saja, bagi dia dulu"
(translated into English, "She's only one person, let her first")

He immediately went into the same argument that it was not his fault that he queued at the wrong counter when they turned on the screens which read that same flight number and that they needed to be fair.

While the lady was checking me in, she multi-tasked by telling him off (BRAVO to this lady, I forgot to ask for her name!)
"Encik, you kena understand, sekarang, system down, memang banyak masalah. You tak boleh buat huru-hara kat sini! Kenalah understand, sabar sikit!"
(In English: Sir, you need to understand, right now, our system is down and there are bound to be problems. You can't cause chaos here. Please understand and be patient)

Trust me, she was not exactly subtle and I was happy to see the man did not argue anymore but he just turned towards his family and bunch of old men, telling them, "I came here since 6am, I queued here since then!" (in hokkien loudly)

YEAH right, I was at that counter, remember, scroll up since 7.15am and there was no sign of him or his company and then he starts to brag like that?

I did not feel triumphant over my victory to be checked in first, instead I felt really raged by his stuck-up and non-shameful behavior.
He really think he was right all the way.

Yes, I do not deny that it was Air Asia which misled them to think that there were 2 counters open for check in, but as the staff approached counter R57, it was obvious that this was the counter open.
The staff even took almost 45 minutes to start up the system and you do not need to be Einstein or Newton to understand that you need to hurry to move to the correct queue!

He was just obstinate and wanted to jump into our queue!
HEY, we were queueing there earlier than you and we were also tired, okay!

Furthermore, the security guard was right, he should ask the permission from us if he wants to cut in front of us.
It is all about courtesy!

I will definitely let him in if he did ask me, as I do understand but NO, he chose to just ignore us.

There is no respect here at all.

Furthermore, I noticed he only tried to cut in at the first group and also at me (the third) and not at the Caucasian.

We are girls; the first group was three young girls from USM (I think, they had bags bearing that logo) and he tried to take their place.

Then he headed behind the Caucasian.

Now, if that is not SEXISM, what was that????

I was furious that he thought that he was right and that he deserved to take his place in OUR queue!
Bear in mind, only him and his family, and company of old men who were still left in that non-existent queue!

The rest of the people who earlier formed that queue had merged into our queue quietly upon noticing the staff at our counter.
So, WHAT is HIS problem??

Well, he never dared to look at us in the eye, and it was really unfortunate that I was on the same flight with him but I noticed he barely dared to look at me even when we arrived in Penang.

Arrogant and conceited, I was even tempted to use the word Hooligan!

Thank goodness I had a nice pregnant Malay woman sitting next to me, whom I even helped with her luggage.
I offered and then another Indian lady with a child behind me asked for my help as well to take her small bag from the top cabin =)

It was not that bad after such an unpleasant experience as I did manage to help others too.

I am really upset about that incident, as I felt that there should be no reason for people to behave like that!

Oh, to make all of us feel better, they were Indonesians (a glance at the passport he slammed on the counter confirmed that)....

Now, status quo, I was never a fan of this country and recently I even thought of going to Bali for a trip, and now, after this, WHAT on earth was i thinking????