I was all prepared to post about how the other half travels; how fantastic it is to fly business class on what is supposedly the nicest airline in the world; how sweet it is to enjoy five-course meals every few hours, comfy slippers and eye masks; BEDS IN YOUR OWN LITTLE SEMI-SUITE that adjust in about 73 different ways and allow you to actually SLEEP on your 30 hours of flying to the point on the exact opposite side of the world from where you depart; how you don’t actually get much sleep, in fact, because the 100+ on-demand movies, some still in the theaters, and episodes of 30 Rock and How I Met Your Mother beckon you to stay awake; how every flight attendant in her cute little Asian get-up knows your name and brings you a hot towel every hour on the hour.
But then the sky opened up and poured, lighting struck down upon me and God said, “Oh but Kristin, you’ve had such smooth travels up until now, which is way uncharacteristic of you. We need to throw a minor bump into your path just to sober you up a bit.” And so He did. (Side Note: May we remember the Great Moroccan Fiasco of 2005 in which it took Megan Williams and me more than 48 hours to reach our final destination? Or the multiple traumas I incurred in trying to depart JFK this summer for weddings when the airport just up and decided to cancel every flight? And many, many comparable incidents I’ve experienced over the year? Fodder for my columns luckily, but still…)
At midnight the Sunday after Thanksgiving, I boarded my first Singapore Air superjet en route to Singapore via Hong Kong, where I would then travel on to the Maldives after a day of enjoying the Equator’s tropical offerings. All went smoothly, and despite the fact that it took four flights to reach my final destinations, I’d be confident in saying none of them arrived late, most were early in fact. But on the way back, I reached Singapore, where an attendant was supposed to meet me and give me my hotel, taxi and meal vouchers (as they did on the way there; the beauty of flying Raffles Class: if you have a 12-hour layover, they’re obligated), but no one was there. It was 6am, I’d taken an overnight flight, despite the fact that I had a bed the flight was only four hours long and I was plum exhausted. I wanted the bed that was promised for me so I could take a quick snooze and meet my friend Jermaine, who had just moved back to her native country two days prior after nine years of living in the States on-and-off. No such luck.
I visited FIVE DIFFERENT Singapore Airlines desks, and every attendant was rude at best, shuffling me to the next unhelpful desk. Finally, after I was nearly on the verge of tears (why does my lower lip begin to quiver every time I reach this level of frustration?), a slightly-kinder-than-the-rest lady finally put in a call for me and relayed the news that because my layover was so short (yet two hours longer than last week’s when they did put me up in a room), they were unable to accommodate me. However, there was a flight back to San Fran in just an hour, did I want to get on standby for that? Sure, great, whatever. So she ushered me through the gates, sent me back to the Raffles Class Lounge (reason #147 flying first/biz class ROCKS) to talk to the people there. Sure, it was doable, they said. All I had to do was pay a $1,000 surcharge. A $1,000 SURCHARGE. On a flight that already cost someone (not me) $7,000. Um, no thanks. Just give me my room, and I’ll go on my happy little way. But she wouldn’t budge. At which point, the floodgates opened and the tears began streaming down (I blame lack of sleep, time zone change, jet lag). But she and her colleagues looked at me like, “what do you want us to do, crazy bitch?” The sympathy factor doesn’t work in Singapore apparently.
“So what do you expect me to do for 12 hours?!” I demanded.
“We have a nice lounge.” No budging.
“Does it have beds? Entertainment? Something for me to pass the time?”
“There are showers.”
Well, great, that will be a fun way to spend the better part of the day. Showering. I lumbered, yes lumbered, back to the lounge all mopey and such. If I’d known this would happen, I wouldn’t have lugged two bags on the plane as carry-ons. I couldn’t even go into the city with this much stuff. So I went and bought headphones (mine were lost en route) and settled in for a boring day at Changi. Then, I hear “Paging Customer Luna. Customer Luna, please come to the service desk,” thinking they’ve changed their minds. But nope, it was just my knight in shining armor, Jermaine’s dad, who had tracked me down in the lounge and sent Jermaine in his car over to collect me. Crisis averted. (Side Note #2: There are nice people in Singapore. Jermaine, her dad, and the customs lady who wasn’t supposed to let me go through customs twice in one day, but let it slide because she actually does have a heart unlike THE DREADFUL PEOPLE ON THAT HORRIBLE AIRLINE I FLEW.) But let this be known, oh rude employees of Singapore Air, I will not fly your airline again, nor will I be recommending it in any of my articles/books (unless you offer me free tickets as compensation, in which case I might just change my mind).
At least I’m not alone in my travel woes. My favorite Brit-cum-blogger-cum-fellow travel writer, Holly Burns of Nothing But Bonfires fame, experienced her own version of airport trauma. I suppose it’s comforting to know it happens to the best of us, even those like Holly and me who do this for a living. We’ll swear on our dead dog’s grave until we’re blue in the face that we’re done, but we always end up coming back for more. Masochists we are, but it takes a certain type (of the patient variety perhaps?) to do what we do.
I’ll write an adequate post about Singapore once the steam subsides.