Monday, June 27, 2011

Is it a bad sign if…. (the vagaries of Chinese air travel)

On Wednesday morning, we were able to relax at the hotel before heading to the airport around noon.

We checked in just fine and made it thru the security check, although something in Michael’s bag always worries them and he has to unload all of his stuff.  I think that it is his flash drive.

We ambled toward our gate which ended up being on the bottom floor of the airport.  

We found optimum seats for “rushing the plane”, but more about that later.

Then we waited!!!    Time came for boarding, and there was nothing happening at the gate…..there wasn’t even a sign saying which flight was going out at that gate.  So, Michael went walking and found an information center that was able (sort of) to tell him that the plane had been delayed indefinitely by Air Traffic Control.  Indefinitely…..what exactly does that mean????

About an hour later, they made an announcement and everybody started getting up and walking toward a lady positioned to one side with a cart.  They returned with a bottle of water and a plate of food!!!!   This cannot be a good sign if they are feeding us!!!!    The food was heat HOT and excellent…..

IMG_0382 The fried things on the left are fish patties and they were wonderful.  Michael liked the balls of meat and vegies, but it wasn’t my favorite, however the hot lettuce was really refreshing.

OK…..so now we have eaten and we wait some more.   Then we heard a rumor that the flight was being moved to gate 41 (upstairs) so Michael asked one of the information workers.  They said that it MIGHT be moved there but that we might as well stay where we were for now.

So, we waited some more!!

Eventually Michael went upstairs,checked out gate 41, and called me to come and join him since the flight was actually listed on that gate sign.

I met him there and we continued the wait.  Eventually the other passengers wandered there as well so I guess that they finally made an announcement of the gate change.

The passengers started filing out of the incoming plane and we all stood up thinking that we were about to board.  Then the unthinkable happened…..

Four policemen walk purposefully past us and down the gangway into the plane….NOT A GOOD SIGN!!!!!

We were hopeful that someone had simply left a bag on the plane and that it wouldn’t take long, but as time went on we lost our optimism.

The funny thing was to watch the growing intensity of the other passengers.  At first they were patient and orderly as they waited.  Then one person went up to the counter to ask the lone attendant what was going on.  As soon as the attendant started talking to him, a huge crowd rushed up to hear as well.  Then the shouting started…..especially from the angry women!!!

The attendant retreated down the gangway and everything returned to it’s quiet, calm state.  But when he returned so did the anger!!!

After about 30 minutes the police officers walked off of the plane and then about 30 more people disembarked as well.  We never did know exactly what happened.

Then we had to wait for the plane to be cleaned…..more yelling ensued!!!

We finally boarded the plane at 8:00pm (our original departure time was at 3:00), but we had been fed and had encountered a new side of Chinese air travel!!!!

On other occasions, we have observed several interesting phenomenon in Chinese air travel……

Firstly there are signs all around (called “Warm Tips”) that say “For your convenience we will be boarding by seat row numbers”.   This is a bunch of ….well….you know!!!

As soon as the attendants begin making motions that they are about to open the gate, people start lining up.   This is fine, except when the announcement is finally made, everyone else rushes and pushes into the “line”. 

On most of our flights we have been put into buses and then shuttled to the departing plane.  On one occasion, the bus driver drove to the wrong plane and we had to walk across the tarmac to the correct one.   I am just glad that someone realized the error before we had boarded the plane!!

The rushing is even worse when you get off of the bus.  You really have to muscle your way up the gangplank or you would be the last one to board!!!

Regulations say that checked baggage cant be more than 18 kilos (about 40 pounds), but we have twice flown with bags at 22 kilos each!!   The regulations also say that you can only have one piece of carry-on luggage, but I have always carried both my purse and my backpack and most people are carrying at LEAST 2 and sometimes 3 or 4 bags!!!!

Most of the airlines are China something…..China Southern, China Eastern, etc.  However we have seen one plane from “Lucky Air”….would love to fly that one!!!

And to end this post, here is our favorite “Warm Tip”…..found by Michael in the men’s restroom…. “Please aim carefully”!!!!!

2 comments:

Sylvia said...

Well, allowing extra weight in checked baggage is a plus, at least! Western airlines sure wouldn't cut you any slack on that front...

Maggi said...

Certainly sounds like you are having some varied experiences. Love the Warm Tip.

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