The ‘Airplane situation’

I’ve always been a glass half full kinda gal. There I am looking pretty chirpy.

Cherisher of the blossoms!

I was finally granted 8 of my precious 15 annual holidays. Beginning it in true Laura-style. Late. I was subway-ing, after ditching the bus that would probably have missed me my flight to the KTX station. Final destination (not the film but the place I was going): Incheon airport. Of course I was late, as my friend Rich paid testament to in my 21st birthday present with a giant plastic mocking clock, I am not strong on time-keeping. An expensive weakness in the game of travel. Anticipating something school related, not characteristically, having information delivered to me at any point 5 minutes after I should have known was rarer than finding an Italian restaurant not serving pickles in Korea, I jumped in. Sender, Cebu Pacific. Nope, not my employer, my holiday enabler!

And what a fantastically informative but ridiculously unhelpful e-mail…

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I felt like this Philippino lady… (with her arms in a more exaggeratedly shrugged position)

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How could they be so nonchalant? And so nonchalantly not giving me any kind of reasonable explanation. I could rebook within 30 days, but would you happen to know of any alternative flights TODAY? And, ‘Airplane situation’? Surely any flight, by its nature, is an airplane situation! ‘Schedule change advisory’ was a patronising ‘in your face McLoughlin.’

I was travelling solo, both in Korean terms (boyfriendless) and literal terms; no buddy to rant to. But I’m rarely angry, remember the glass half-full? I didn’t vent my frustration by turning to knock the closest ajumma’s visor directly off her smug, sun-protected noggin. Although that was always tempting, frustrated or not. I turned into mission mode, and set about creating my own airplane situation.

First, I counted my chickens. I was in Busan, not yet having parted with wons or the Southern city, I could catch a flight from my local flying port. Pacing up and down the Seomyeon subway station escalators, I scanned my options. Busan to Manila, 1 stop, leaving in… 2 hours.

Time? Check. Extra stop off? Kind of annoying but I get to go to China, check. Not a Cebu Pacific flight? Check.

I put myself in the direction of down and headed back the way I came, to Gimhae international airport, heart-racing, desperate to burst with an annoyed at my Cebu Pacific rant, but still clutching at the bright sides. The complementary airport computers saved me! Not complementary in terms of computers for free, that would be very logistically inconvenient, just their use. Thank you generous Korea! I booked my flight, printed my receipt and headed to the check-in desk. Just as I was smugly patting myself on the back, excited my flight now included a 3-hour stop off in Shanghai, the check-in counter lady, as she’s officially known, shattered my flight success dreams.

‘You’re not on the system.’

‘Er… Can you check again?’

‘Nope, nothing. Can you go over to the ticket sales and check with them please madam?’ – Computer says no (I guess in Korea it would speak in Korean, 아니요, anniyo).

My half full glass was slowly becoming half empty.

Swiftly so, when the desk confirmed my lack of confirmation in the system. Computer says no way José (Or 아니요,조? Anniyo, Jo?)

I’d booked through a third party, all of my Mums money-saving lessons were heavily at force, ‘use the cheap force Laura’, I could never hear her saying as she’s not a Star Wars fan, but something along those lines. This cheap-skater attitude came at the cost of my pre-flight relaxing time, the company wouldn’t be able to confirm my flight until opening. 9am, UK time. Check-in closed at 5.20pm, Korea time. That left a whole 20 minute slot in which to fully squeeze the positivity out of this ‘situation’! I hung out at the desk, wishing the ensuing 30 minutes away, too wound up to treat myself to a sit down, until I could make the call that would determine my Philippines holiday fate. An already rushed fate including 2 islands and 5 flights in my precious 8 days, I wasn’t in the market for losing time.

The clock struck 5pm and I was on the phone faster than a mcdelivery scooter driver can pace a long road.

I called the UK number. America answered.

An answer? Glass looking fuller.

‘Hiya, I’ve booked a flight from Busan international airport to Manila, leaving in, erm, 40 minutes and it doesn’t seem to have gone through on the system, can you please check this for me?’ – Proud of mimicking Cebu Pacific’s nonchalance.

‘Yes, sure’

Please computer, please computer. Obviously begging with technology gets you everywhere.

‘Hmmm…’

Yes? Yes?

‘Let me just see here…’

You’re killing me! – Glass half…

‘Yep, yep, I see it. We’ve got it. Ok I’m gonna rush this through for you.’

… Full.

Wahoooooooooooo! (The thoughts in my head yelped!)

‘I’ll put it at the head of the queue and you should be booked in, just give us a couple minutes.’ – Her American accent suddenly incredibly comforting.

I turned to the Korean Don Juan, he was pretty fit, to confirm her good news!

…. The suspense (which was realistically around 30 seconds but felt like a whole afternoon) was KILLING me.

The computer says yes! – I now had no one to share my victory with. And no ajumma visors to upset.

I went back to the check-in counter lady, this time with an earned, smug, pat on the back.

Wahoo x 35,000! 13 minutes until check-in, 33 minutes until take-off. I was through. (Or tru, as Louis Walsh would Irishly say).

I now felt like this…

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My glass back to its original optimistic state. A rant and victory unshared, but my Philippino adventure laying ahead.

And breathe…

To see a snapshot of my Philippine adventures, please check out my video 

So, there’s a nice glimpse into my manic travel adventures, and I hadn’t even boarded the plane. Thanks for reading!

Have you ever been in a similar ‘situation?’ Please share it with me!

 

January 2014.

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3 thoughts on “The ‘Airplane situation’

  1. Hel-loh,

    Brilliant – had me braced for your success, for which the detail ensured my doubly rooting for you. I liked the contrast between the potential to fall flat – as the odds stacked up against you – and your unwavering hope; it’s almost like your will and attitude ensured you reaching your destination! As a piece of writing, intricately woven; as an adventure, instills hope (not least in the most dastardly of corporations – the airline!)

    A pleasure to read 😊

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