Thursday, July 10, 2008

Another flight delay experience, part 2

Next day:

09:30 This was when the coach was supposed to depart but it didn't until 09:50. Didn't matter anyway since there's absolutely no reason to go back to the airport so early anyway when the flight is rescheduled to depart on 13:15.

And to add to the potential trouble, the airline was scheduled to move to T1 on this exact date. Who knows what more trouble lies ahead of us...

10:00 You cannot believe how quick the re-check-in is. Apparently they have called in every single staff member available.

10:15 Then after security etc. at T1, we have to wait another several hours. As this is Heathrow, they won't tell you which gate it is until the last minute. In this case the electronic board sayid"gate opens 11:45".

There were a few laptop-friendly places in the waiting area - and when I plug mine in, nothing happened, and I was fearing the worse that the same adapter/fuse problem from last year happened again... Fortunately, everyone else failed, and it was just that the sockets actually gave no electricity...

11:45 The electronic board will usually only show two things: "Go to gate N"; or "Gate opens xx:yy". But at 11:45, our flight showed... "Please wait". Which can mean only one thing - delay...

12:40 They finally told us which gate it was.

13:15 Supposed take-off time and we were just beginning boarding.

13:25 Everyone was given a box of chocolates when boarding.

14:05 Plane finally started to move. A crew threw his fist to the air and shouted "yeah!". Come on, calm down, it is still on the ground...

14:40 Finally, the plane took off. Last night's hotel was just next to the runway!

Overall, my feeling is that they do all superficial things very well, like grabbing every single staff to stand around just to say good morning, and give you chocolates, etc. But they are extremely inefficient in actually sorting things out, and tried to cover up the true scale of the engineering problem until the very end.

Update: actually, I just realized my disaster in 2003 also happened in July...

Another flight delay experience, part 1

Perhaps I should have learnt not to fly in July. You may wish to look back my last year's experience first to refresh your memory before proceeding. This time I was flying to HK on a direct flight on Air New Zealand. And this is what happened. (All times approximate - just guessing from impression)

19:30 Arrived at airport, after a rather slow and confusing tube journey. As you may know, the same train platform can serve trains going to different destinations. As it turns out, the sign at the front of the train, the elctronic board at the platform, and the voice announcement inside the train, told me three different places.

I think I actually have never been to T3, and (perhaps due to some operations moved to T5) it seemed surprisingly refreshing. The check-in queue was almost non-existent and I was through within a minute!

21:05 Scheduled take-off time. Boarding was fairly normal and everyone was on-board.

21:40 After idling for 40 minutes or so, the captain finally spoke of some sort of "engineering problem", and said they were working on it.

21:50 Then they admitted we had to get off the plane first, but said we can get back "soon". I didn't believe it. We went back to the gate.

22:10 After even more delay, it was finally admitted that the flight had to be delayed until the next day. There was a fuel line problem and they had to wait for another plane to arrive on the next day. It was then announced that we will be given hotel accommodation; as you may have expected, there were some cheering from HK guys...

22:30 We were patiently waiting for the "logistics" arrangements, when they made an "unusual" decision. They realized it was too late in night, it wasn't possible for the hotel to provide meals... but wait, isn't the in-flight meal already here, huh? Brilliant, just ask all the passengers to re-board the plane to take the dinner!

22:45 I was eagerly waiting for having an in-flight meal on ground for the first time, when they made yet another disappointing decision that, at the end, they decided against that idea. But there was no other arrangements - we were supposed to be kept hungry until the next day. So we left the airport. First, we need to go through immigration without actually flying. Long queue as usual. And I wasn't sure what to write on the landing card... I mean, "departure port"?
I wrote "Heathrow"... and the arrival plane number... er did I arrive by any plane?

23:10 Next it was to collect baggage, without flying that is. The trouble didn't stop here - the conveyor belt didn't work, and we just walked around the belt full of luggage already scattered around (for some reason). Only after another 15 minutes they said they are getting "another engineer" to fix it. I didn't think it needed any fix - it just took someone to turn it on...

23:30 Finally we got the luggage...

00:15 ...and it took another hour or so standing in the street to wait for the coach.

00:20 It just took a few minutes to arrive at the hotel. But then had to wait another hour for checkin... At least this time round we were not standing outside in the street at 30 degrees Celsius in bright sunlight...

01:00 Finally found myself inside the hotel room.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Ok, so Euro'08 ended. I'm fairly happy to see Spain win, although I don't really care who wins as long as it is not Portugal or Italy. I feel that these two teams are just full of divers and liars, cheating their way through in recent competitions. So it is good to see them being knocked out in the last 8.