Saturday, September 8, 2012

Me and Blanche Dubois

Okay - we have finally arrived in kuala lumpur - local time 1:40am. I can report that it is hot, humid, foggy, and at this moment dark.

United Airline's skies were not so friendly to us on this trip. Our first flight out was cancelled due to a malfunctioning gage. To their credit the airline did put us up in the Hilton and fed us well. Of course I would rather have been eating dimsum in Hong Kong, which was our original plan but fortunately I built in an extra travel day just in case something went wrong. Good planning on my part - unfortunately I did not plan on several things going wrong.

In order to save the schools we are working with some money on the cost of shipping a couple crackpot poets to their school I booked our flight to KL out of Hong Kong on a separate carrier. Air Asia - think back to the old days Peoples Express kind of outfit. Well since United's faulty equipment caused us to miss our flight we had to rebook that leg, at our cost. Not the end of the world we figured, we'll lean on United and get some flying coupons or something. So we miss a dinner in Hong Kong - we are going to be there in a week anyway. So I rebook the flight giving us three and a half hours to change planes at Hong Kong international. One thing Asia does well is airports, I was confident we were on our way.

That was until we got on the plane again in Chicago.

Our departure time was set to be 10am. We chat with air new acquaintances of inconvenience - see the post before this one - get on the plane and then we sit. We sit on the Tarmac 10:00 - 10:15 - 10:30... The captain comes on the intercom to let us know that since the flight number has changed because we are leaving a day late a new flight plan has to be entered into the traffic control system. 10:45 - 11:00 - 11:15... "Sorry for the delay folks - the computer isn't liking the flight plan - we have to enter it manually we will be in the air shortly."

Okay I am thinking to myself we still have over two hours, we can do this. 11:30 - 11:45... The plane pulls out of the gate to the cheers of the passengers. We taxi for ten minutes then we stop. 12:00 - 12:15 - 12:30... "Well ladies and gentlemen, it seems a smoke alarm has gone off in the back galley - there doesn't seem to be any reason for concern but procedure requires us to return to the gate so that maintenance can check it out."

Okay - we've missed our rebooked flight. "Maintenance has deemed us airworthy but unfortunately the cockpit crew has been in the plane too long to complete this flight and we are going to have to replace them."

By now folks are bailing, on Asian kid grabs his carry on bags saying "This is a sign - I'm getting out of here." and he does.

Another passenger tells me he overheard the maintenance dude grilling one of the cabin crew "You swear none of your people were smoking back there?" Seems it's possible one of the flight attendants might have thought the time spent entering the flight path by the captain was his or her opportunity to grab one last smoke before our 15 hour flight.

Anyway, we finally get into the air around 2:00 pm. No shot at catching or connector to KL.

Once we get to Hong Kong our luck changes a bit. There is one more flight leaving tonight and they have room. The nice young ladies at Air Asia rebook us for a very nominal change fee when they were under no obligation to do so. I think they truly took sympathy on us. The kindness of strangers.

So now here I sit in the back of a black taxi tooling the streets of Kuala Lumpur headed to our hotel. A little worse for wear - but still in one piece. Let's hope the stranger driving this car knows where he is going.

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