Travel blogging is a curious beast and with the notable exception of a few high-quality comedies that I enjoy reading from time to time, one of the mistakes – by virtue of sponsorships I presume – I feel my fellow bloggers often make is to not tell the down-sides enough. Because let’s face it, while travelling often is a great eye-opener and wonderful experience, it’s not all plain sailing.
1. KUL – AUH, Etihad Airways
Etihad Airways, by all accounts, are in a deeply unenviable position on some routes in particular. While it would be a fair assessment to say that Malaysian travellers and European travellers are well-versed in the ways of modern aviation, this routing (from experience) seems to garner a couple of deeply inexperienced passengers per flight connecting in Abu Dhabi to who knows where else.
On this one particular flight, we had a lady seated across from us – when she was finally shown to her seat. She had no idea – she tugged at the assistant’s dress every time she wanted something and the attendant was within reach; she put the headphones on (I kid you not) and then proceeded to look frantically around her seat area and press every button before the flight attendant finally showed her that the headphones need to actually be plugged in; at one point, she got up to use the toilets, returned and promptly sat down in someone else’s seat a number of rows away and stayed put until the passenger finally returned and evicted their new-found squatter.
The flight is quite long – around 7.5 hours, and in the closing hour of the journey some kind of deeply unappetising sandwich laced with onion was passed out. After one bite, I decided against eating any further – however our seat-mate across the row kept pointing at it and insisting I eat more. I actually did too, mostly because I was scared of her getting up and force-feeding it to me…
This should have been an alright flight from the outset – my experience to date has been that BA’s long-haul aircraft that I’ve been on have been tired and staid. More importantly, they frequently lack individual air control, and the attendants crank the temperature up to tropical temperatures in an attempt to aid a night’s sleep – even though it has the opposite effect on me.
My seat-mate beside me for this journey was an agitated racist from Derry, both of us connecting in Heathrow on reasonably tight turnarounds. As the journey progressed, he did his level best to match the price of his airfare with the amount of alcohol he was consuming, eventually having to agree not to ask for another drink for a few hours. Eventually, come morning time, rather than go for the pre-landing breakfast, he asked instead for more wine (and got it, with a few hours having passed). Somehow though, his skill of keeping concealed how ridiculously wasted he was until he had been served was outstanding, but as the flight wore on and got later and later behind schedule, the attitude wore off.
Eventually, just prior to landing, the wheels came off the wagon as we say and he went ballistic over the possibility of missing his flight to Derry, before leaping up while we turned off the runway to immediately grab his belongings as if him somehow doing so would speed up the entire taxi to gate. Why was this so awful, aside from having to sit beside an agitated drunk? Easy – BA staff, who normally would be more perceptive I hope, thought somehow I was also a part of this party (as we had been talking) and I also got tarnished with the ‘dirty look’ faces from all on the way out…
No offense to Air China, but this stands out as the worst flight of all time and as I had the row to myself, it can’t possibly be the fault of any other passengers like the previous two episodes. I’ll say it once – Air China, on this particular occasion, was absolutely dreadful.
To kick things off, aside from the bleak lack of welcomes getting on-board, the safety video took so long in Chinese that our monitors remained dropped down and only beginning the English version as the engines roared for take-off (I actually though internationally, you had to have been shown the safety requirements prior to take-off?) so I missed more or less the entire thing. The food meanwhile was a dismal affair consisting of some green noodles and a dearth of recognisable drinks.
The icing on the cake? The turbulence into Beijing itself, which was very extreme and hardcore, bolting the plane backwards and forwards for a long time before finally bouncing down into Beijing. Dreadful.
So, what are your bad airline experiences? Please share…