My flight was Charlottesville to Dulles Airport (Washington DC), then Newark (NY – well New Jersey actually), then Stockholm and home.
The first flight was fine. Arrived in Dulles early. Found gate, plugged in and did some writing. Then comes announcement: delay because of weather over Newark. Doubt over what time would be taking off. Start worrying. Departure time keeps on changing. I have a three and a half hour layover in Newark, and it starts being eaten up… I know that when I get to Newark, I have to change terminals, get a boarding pass for my Malaysian Airlines flight and pass through security. No joke.
At 6.30 (when I should have been landing in Newark), there’s an announcement – change in Gate number. Get over there quick, and the plane will leave as soon as you do. So we all rush off. When we get there, someone tells us the plane is not there yet. Then a pilot comes rushing past, glances at the gate info and does a double take. ‘Whoa,” he says, “that’s my flight. How come it’s here?” He was on his way to the gate we had just left.
Right. Anyway, he gets that sorted out, and yes, we are supposed to be leaving from this gate. We also hear that yes, there had been bad weather in Newark, but the plane had been taken for some kind of repair anyway…
We hang around for a bit longer. Finally plane arrives and we get to board. Then we don’t move. Seems there’s something wrong with the onboard computer. “Not to worry,” says captain, “happens all the time. We have to get the technician to come and reboot the cockpit.”
Oops. We passengers start laughing. Nothing else to do. It is now way after 7.30.
Technician arrives, fiddles around, lights go on on the cockpit console (hey this is a small plane, ok?). Technician gets off, we start taxiing, wondering all the time what can go wrong next.
After a strangely long time wandering all over Dulles airport taxi runways, we finally stop. “Sorry,” says pilot. “We were directed to another runway. Now we have to wait.” (I assume because we had lost our slot in the take off line.) We sit, and sit and sit.
Plane finally gets into the air at 8.15. We almost applaud. Great anvil black clouds on our left as we fly on into Newark. Land at 8.55. Off plane and in terminal at 9.05. No signs telling me how to get to the terminal I need. Ask questions.
Start running. Finally find airtrain to right terminal. Then rush to check-in counters. MAS counter not there. It’s 2 floors down on the arrivals floor. Rush down. Counters still open. Wow. Thanks MAS. Have to wait for another person to be attended to – same problem, her flight also delayed because of weather. (Find out later that she lives just a few streets away from me in Malaysia, in the neighbouring sub-division.) I am dishevelled, perspiring, panting.
Girl behind counter deals with me, records my luggage details (it had been booked, in Charlottesville, straight through to K.L.), hands me the boarding pass. Offhandedly she says, “We have upgraded you to business.”
I almost jump over the counter to hug her. But no time. Rush off to find gate. Have to pass through security. Take shoes off. Take out plastic bag of liquids. Take out computer. Put it all back again. Find gate.
And I am finally on the plane, sinking into the lap of luxury, fabulous service, good food, excellent wine, personal entertainment, a chair that becomes a bed. Meals are a dream. The cutlery is metal, not plastic that wouldn’t cut icecream. And it tastes delicious. The coffee tastes like coffee should. There is even a buttonhole embroidered into the spotless white napkin, for gossake. Oh, wow, if only plane travel was all like this. MAS business class: I love you. Just tell me what I have to do to get upgraded again.
I am in Kuala Lumpur, on time, well-fed and rested.
Was that the end of the story? Of course not. I am a member of the Noramly family, don’t forget.
My luggage is still in New Jersey.