The Worst Airline of All Time

28 May

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May 22, 2012 – May 23, 2012

I believe I left off on May 22 writing from the Dhaka, Bangladesh airport executive lounge while experiencing hours upon hours of seemingly reason-less delays. Finally about 6 hours after the we were supposed to take off a boarding gate appeared on the departures tv monitor. Finally!

Alyn, a British guy we’d met in Kathmandu who was Malaysia-bound to visit his long-distance girlfriend, J.J. and I passed through another round of security and were ushered into a large fishbowl of a room (read: glass on all 4 sides) and from there boarded the plane.

The 3 of us had seats together and got settled in. Shortly thereafter we were presented with who I will call Drill Sergeant Raoul, the flight attendant for our section of the plane. I think this guy may had tried out for the army, didn’t make it and instead decided to become a flight attendant to command the skies.

Throughout the next 3 hours and 45 minutes Drill Sergeant Raoul exhibited the following behaviour:

  • Punching the back of the headrest of J.J.’s seat while yelling “DINNER! FOOD! DINNER! FOOD!” in order to wake up J.J. and serve him his in-flight meal. He didn’t stop until J.J. groggily put down his tray for the food. (Side note: after a 6 hour delay it was now 2am and J.J. would have understandably chosen sleep over airline food at this time of night.)
  • Near the end of the flight Drill Sergeant Raoul walked up and down the aisle ripping out people’s airline-supplied headphones from the jack in the armrest yelling for everyone else to do the same. He then proceeded to scream at the passengers to wrap the cord around the headphones, “LIKE THIS!”

As you may by now have guessed, Drill Sergeant Raoul was not the most hospitable of flight attendants. He failed to crack a single smile in 3 hours and 45 minutes (I would know because I was unable to nod off with all of his yelling orders at passengers), he not once offered a choice in beverage, instead serving everything from apple juice to watered down tomato juice to Coke to Sprite to water at complete random (tip: the watered down tomato juice was gross!) and he tried to prevent me from using the bathroom mid-flight when the seatbelt sign was off. Oddly, he did nothing to prevent a Nepali man from using the toilet with the door wide open as we were taxiing on the runway. Did I mention the back of the bathroom door had a full length mirror, allowing the whole plane watch him tinkle?

Congratulations Biman Bangladesh Airlines, you have successfully jumped to the top of my list of Worst Airlines in the World.

Once we had collected our luggage we walked out to the arrivals section of the airport where Alyn’s girlfriend, Katie, was waiting to greet him. She very generously offered to drop J.J. off at the hotel we had planned to stay at (even though it was now 7am) and we gratefully accepted.

Exhausted from traveling for 25 hours straight without sleep we abandoned our plans to visit Central Market and instead decided to check into our hotel and sleep right up until check-out. Finding out hotel was a mission and a half and just as we were about to give up and have Katie drop us off wherever we were we spotted it just down the street. We checked in and fell into a deep sleep almost immediately.

At 12:00pm we checked out and hailed a cab and set off for Sunway Pyramid, the mall where we’d agreed to meet Jaime, a very good friend of my sister’s, that had graciously offered to put us up for our time in Kuala Lumpur. We were a bit concerned that it might not be obvious where the main door of Sunway Pyramid Mall would be and given that we were meeting at Starbucks we were also concerned with how many would be in this particular mall. Our worries quickly faded as we pulled up and discovered the main entrance was clearly marked by a giant lion and a prominent Starbucks was visible just to left as Jaime had told us.

After a quick coffee catch-up we once again got a cab and took it to Jaime’s apartment that she shares with 2 other Canadian teachers, Melissa and Chris. In a word, Jaime’s apartment is amaze-balls. It’s got high ceilings, freshly painted white walls with bamboo accents, and sparklingly clean, white floors in the common rooms and hardwood floors in the bedrooms. The view from her balcony looks over her building’s infinity pool and in the near distance is a very small lake featuring a yacht that is available for renting out, a waterpark and the general area of Sunway.

Jamie gave us the tour which included offering us any of her food, use of her washing machine and ended with her giving up her bedroom for the duration of our stay despite our protesting. (Seriously the couch is huge and is far nicer than most of the beds we’ve been sleeping in.) Jaime, you are far too generous!!!

Jaime had to run back to the school where she teaches to help distribute yearbooks and left J.J. and I to do some laundry and rest for a few hours before she would be able to make it back home.

Once Jaime was done work for the day the 3 of us decided to join some of her friends at a very casual outdoor restaurant known to the local foreigners as City Pop. (By local foreigners I mean the teachers at the international schools here – they live here but aren’t from here.) The food was cheap and delicious and had a hilarious Malaysian woman serving there that the local foreigners have all come to know well.

After dinner Jaime offered to walk us around the area so that the following day we’d be able to explore further. We went into the area’s only 5-star hotel, just to have a look and visit the bakery there that sells off any leftovers baked fresh that morning for 50% off after 7pm. Unfortunately we were too late and other bargain-hunters had beaten us to the punch.

Next we walked back to the mall where we’d met Jaime earlier that day as J.J. and I wanted to pick up some groceries. After we’d done our shopping we stopped by the hockey rink found in the middle of the mall (picture a hockey rink in the Eaton Centre where the fountain is outside of Pottery Barn and The Body Shop) and watched the end of a game. (Only the ref appeared to be local, the players all seemed to be local foreigners.)

We then opted to walk home, learning along the way, much to J.J.’s delight, that Jaime’s family had once owned a cheese factory. Bed came soon after and I have never slept so well. Sleeping in Jaime’s bed is like sleeping on a cloud. Heaven.

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