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Been Flying Lately?

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The plane was drifting from left to right. The propellers didn't seem to have equal strength; hopefully the wind was teasing us (pilots with mood swings is a more common explanation recently). Seriously though, I saw people's heads tilting from side to side - similar to people influenced by ecstasy at a techno-disco bar. As soon as the fasten seat belt sign had been turned off, people struggled to stand up and tried to walk pass overweight people whom coincidentally always sit on the aisle. They then waltzed while playing hide and seek with the food trolley on their way to the lavatories at the back of the plane.

Disappointed with the snacks the stewardess had given me, the carton seemed to have more nutrients than its contents; I left my seat to stretch my stiff legs. Curiously, I followed the green carpeted path, which eventually ended at the pilot's cabin.

Two pilots were chatting in the cockpit. They had a hot cup of coffee each, and were a bit surprised to see my head popping out from behind the unlocked door.

"Good morning gentlemen," I said to the pilots. "Sorry, I'm completely blind about plane navigation. But, could you please explain to me what that newspaper is doing stuck on your wind screen?"

Most of the wind screen except for a little peep hole (I suppose pilots also need to see the direction the plane is heading too) was blocked by two whole pages of today's newspaper. The newspaper was glued to the screen by half a dozen pieces of transparent tape. It was stuck from the inside; otherwise I would have thought that some people from a flying object ahead of us had thrown their newspaper out from their window.

"O, can't you see how annoying the sun is? I can't cope with it. It's blinding and can easily burn half of my face," answered the co-pilot. Well, if you want to add to it, you can also read your newspaper without holding it, I thought. I walked back to my seat wishing that I hadn't visited the cockpit.

The plane landed 'safely', in one piece at least. The front wheel touched the ground smoothly, but not the back part of the plane. The back wheels slammed to the ground and skidded for the next ten meters or so. Shortly after, the pilots pulled the brake three times in a row. I felt like my belly button went up to my chin and everybody jerked back and forth like kangaroos. Finally the plane became quite again. Phew, I made sure that my body parts were still in the right place. Yes they were, although I did feel a few centimetres shorter. Burying my head in the plane's safety instructions and reading the journey prayer in five different languages had certainly been worthwhile.

Happily I got off the plane, following the flow of people walking toward the baggage claim area. I stopped at the same conveyor belt where all the other passengers from my plane had stopped. Ten minutes later I realised that we were waiting at the wrong belt. Well, there was a television above it that was supposed to give us clues as to which plane the luggage was from. But the instruction was written in code: BQ 253 YG X. How could they expect us, the common lay people, to understand?

I waited and waited. My luggage didn't show up. There was nothing else on the belt beside some porters who were playing imaginary merry go round. I started to panic and approached one of the flight attendants.

"Please follow me, I will contact the plane to make sure there is nothing left in the luggage hold," she said smiling. My bright red travel bag was huge. No body could miss it, I thought.

"Apparently your luggage has been flown to a different city. Please write down your address while you're staying in this town, we will try to deliver it to your hotel sometime this evening." It was 10 am. I had a meeting in two hours and all my work attire was in the bag. Excellent!

When I asked her how this could possibly happen, she answered: "Sometimes when the airline staff decide that some luggage is too heavy, which could imbalance the plane, they will leave it behind."

Halloo! Oh, yes sure. And what do you say to the poor passenger? 'Sorry Sir, we have to leave your bag in the airport because it's too heavy. Please enjoy your flight'?

Give me a break.

I was so frustrated because the flight attendant's facial expression was so calm and innocent. She gave me a look as if I had to accept it no matter what. The airline staff didn't even apologise let alone offer some form of compensation for my dilemma. At least they should have given me some decent clothes for my meeting or something. It's not much fun to show up to a meeting of monumental national importance with my flip-flop shoes and mini back-less dress on, is it? Thank goodness I kept my power hairpiece in my handbag.

During the meeting, my flying experience and the fate of my bags occupied more cells in my brain than the presentation I had prepared for two weeks. There are only few airline companies in this country, I guess that's why they don't bother to upgrade their service. No competition, what do you expect?

Somebody mentioned my name. I stood up and blurted out: "What's the train like?"

Nothing could be better than this.

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