If you guys are anything like my friend, Z, I’m sure yesterday’s article, “Great Rats to Fly with: PIA” in ‘The News’ left you pretty disgusted. In case you haven’t read it – check out http://thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=23140
Z sent me a piece he had written about his experience. Thought you guys would find it amusing!
P.S. No matter how scary the thought of a rat-infested plane ride may be, I can’t seem to get rid of my soft spot for PIA – how else could I travel directly from London to Islamabad? Where else would I consume such delicious palak gosht?!
The holidays are here and my entire family have decided to abandon me and go off and visit The Homeland. This means that Muggins has to lift and drag forty kilo suitcases down the stairs and into the car boot. One then proceeds to the wonderful Terminal 3 at Heathrow Airport and does it all again. Heathrow is chaos, it starts at the airport and that is just the tip of the chaotic iceberg. You queue for the lifts as you have to heave two luggage laden, (that’s pronounced LAY-DUN not LAADUN) trolleys to the lower floor. This is the check-in floor and it’s like the world has ended with a frown on every face and people running amock in all directions. I was the same, as soon as I realised that the queue for Emirates was winding half way round the terminal. I queued for an hour and a half before we got to the check-in desk. During this time the family ahead of us were served a MacDonalds’ supper by one of their sons as they waited. I met a friend in the same queue and after a while she got the gist of what I was telling her – ie. that I was only queuing to help my parents shift the ninety kilo trolleys and that as soon as they had checked in I would go back home, having paid a tenner for parking. I was getting used to this as I had done the same a week ago when my wife left. “Whaaaaaaaaaaaat??” she yelled, “You mean you’re not even flying?? What a loooossseeerrrr!!!” I guess that just about summed me up.
That was outward bound. Then I had the inward bound chaos to contend with. It was even worse….
I’d like to think that I am quite efficient when it comes to my airport trips. Once PIA’ed, twice shy. I phone up in advance to ensure the flight is on time. I even check it on Teletext, just in case. I even rang my wife’s parents to make sure she had gotten on the flight itself. No, that’s not being a compulsive obsessive pedant, they often refuse passengers at the check-in desks there just in case passengers haven’t confirmed and re-confirmed and re-re-confirmed their tickets.
On this occasion, PK 785 was due to arrive late at 9.00pm instead of 3.00pm. By the time I checked again, it was 9.30pm. So now this ‘direct’ flight is a whole six and a half hours late and no one seems to know where it is, and frankly I am a tad worried by this stage as where could the plane have gone. If it hasn’t stopped elsewhere and it was a direct flight and left on time, then where was it? “Eeet eez due to arraaiiive at nine tatty that’s aall, bas” is the reply I got from the PIA office.
By the time I get to Arrivals the expected time of arrival is 9.45pm. After a while it says ‘Landed’. And after a longer while I expect to read “PK 785 Baggage in Hall” as for the other flights. Instead I get a blank line for PK 785. So now we are completely in the dark. Did the plane land? Was it beamed up by Scotty? If it did, where was my wife? Indeed where was any ‘Pak’enger?
I am now waiting with all the others in anticipation and I can hardly bear to be in the spot I’m in because someone smells. I’m sorry, but whoever it was, their washing machine had broken down, in fact it had been broken down for some time now! Then suddenly, amongst all of us tired mortals there appeared a (Naoozubilla) God-like figure beyond the opaque screen. It was none other than our very own Export of the Century, Mr Imran Khan.
Of course the entire population in Terminal 3 broke into spontaneous applause as if we were at a test match or something and then half of them started running after him, for autographs I guess. Poor man, (well, not literally), he even hid round the corner as he waited for the lift before endeavouring to depart hastily and unnoticed! That was the highlight of the night (now morning) for most of us, it seemed. It was another hour before my wife turned up but that was my highlight, sorry if you are throwing up at this stage!
So where had the plane been for nearly seven extra hours? Well apparently the Pakistani army were using half the runway in Islamabad so the plane could not be fully fuelled. They had decided to take off and land the direct flight from Islamabad in Karachi for re-fuelling where there had been further delays of the chaotic variety! My wife was not amused. In fact I think she was in shock. Apparently the little boy next to her had ‘kicked’ her shins during the entire flight with his muddy shoes……and yes the mud had actually crumbled and fallen off too as it dried in the heat!
“Never again” we cry in repent, “I am NEVER sitting on another PIA flight again, EVER” we say. But alas come Christmas time, we all become desperados and as everything in the world seems to be booked up airlines-wise we, no doubt, will end up boarding another, ‘PIA ki parvaaz PK something or the other’ again, happily, relieved that we are off to the ‘Vathan’ once more!