A few days before I left Bangkok I decided to have a look at the itinerary of my out-going flight. I will say that during this whole trip I never looked at my itinerary more than 24-hours in advance but for some reason something told me to have a look. When I bought my ticket to France back in December, I had originally planned to be in Phuket, but as you know my plans changed and I returned to Indonesia instead of going to the south islands in Thailand. I never thought about this and when I booked my ticket from Indonesia back to Thailand, I naturally booked it back to Bangkok. I called the airline to see if they could change my flight to leave out of Bangkok and they told me that unfortunately I would have to buy a new ticket and it would cost $800!! This was not an option, I simply didn’t have that money. I looked at my outbound ticket out of Phuket and it was in the evening so I decided to buy a ticket from Bangkok to Phuket in the morning and wait for my outbound flight in the airport. Problem solved!
When I arrived at the Bangkok airport to take my flight to Phuket, I was informed that my flight was majorly delayed. “How delayed”, I asked? It turns out that it was so late that I would only be arriving 1 hour before my outgoing international flight. Not only was that a problem, but my outgoing flight to Paris was with a different airline so if my original flight didn’t get in on time, I would completely forfeit that ticket.
I expressed my concern to the ticket agent and she said that it would be fine. “Um, no it wasn’t fine, if there is one thing I’m a pro at, it’s with flying and I knew for a fact, that one hour was not enough time to get my bags in Phuket, and re-check them onto an international flight and go through customs within one hour.” They start to board international flights one hour in advance for gosh sakes, this was not going to work. She sensed my frustration and said that she would make some phone calls to see what she could do.
My flight to Paris was out of Phuket but I had a 3 hour lay-over in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and then it went direct to Paris. After a 10 minute phone call she hung up and said that since the flight from Bangkok to Phuket was delayed, and that it was their fault they were willing to fly me straight to Kuala Lumpur and from there I would pick up the last leg of my journey to Paris. She even said that my bags would be routed all the way through. Any other person would have been ecstatic with this news…..except for me!! I knew from past experience that if you don’t show up for the first leg of a flight, you are considered a “no-show” and your entire ticket gets cancelled in the system. I explained this to her and she explained over and over again to me that they were making an exception for me. All I had to do was find a transfer agent in Kuala Lumpur, and pick up my boarding pass for the direct flight to Paris. I told her multiple times that I was not comfortable with this and that I had never heard of such a thing. She began to get annoyed with me and said that it was my only option and that everything would be fine. She even gave me a ticket for my bags and it showed a tracking number AND that they were being routed directly to Charles De Gaulle airport. Once I saw the tracking number for my bags I felt a little bit more confident and decided to go for it.
I finally arrived to Kuala Lumpur and I had 3 hours before my flight left. I casually made my way to a ticket counter in the airport and told them that I need to get a boarding pass printed. She asked for my name and began to search the system. It took her a little bit longer than usual and I could see that something was not right by the look on her face. She finally looked up and said, I’m sorry Miss but you are not in the system. You have been bumped from your flight to Paris because you did not show up for your first leg of the flight and unfortunately there is not one spot left on this flight…..it is completely booked!!! I KNEW IT!!!! I KNEW THIS WOULD HAPPEN! I explained to her my situation and how I was promised that I would be on that flight and she said, I”m sorry there is simply nothing I can do. She suggested that I go to the check-in counter at the airport and see if someone could help me. Check-in counter?? That means that I would have to clear customs in Kuala Lumpur, did I really have the time? Her response was, “well you better hurry”. I started to run through the airport. I had to take a shuttle to another terminal and then I had to wait in line at customs. From there they questioned me on how long I would be in Kuala Lumpur and my reasons for entering. I explained to them that I wasn’t even supposed to be here and that I just needed to speak with a check-in agent. The man at customs gave me a suspicious look, took my finger prints, stamped “entry” into my passport and let me go through.
Thirty minutes later I got to the ticket counter that was just closing because it was already 10pm at night and there were no more outbound flights that day. The lady asked what she could do for me and the tears just started flowing. I couldn’t get a word out, I was sobbing. She was so patient and told me to settle down and try to get it out. I told her the entire story, and she told me that she would have to find a manager to help me. She brought me into a tiny office and 5 minutes later, a manager by the name of Richi Chong, came to help me. I re-explained the story for the third time and in the most confident voice he said, “Amanda do not worry, we will figure this out, it’s really not a big problem”. That was the first time I took a breath within an hour.
He started typing all these codes into his computer screen and his smile soon turned in to a frown. “What”, I said…….”what is going on?” “Well, this flight is really really booked Amanda, there is not one free seat left.” The tears started to flow again, I was trying to hold back but I couldn’t help it. I was tired and I was at my wits end. He looked at me and gave me this look like, I am going to help this poor girl. He made a call, and by the grace of God, 15 minutes later I had a boarding pass in hand.
“How did you do this,” I asked, through my tears. He smiled at me and said, actually I can’t talk about it because I will probably loose my job but the most important thing is that you are on this flight now you better hurry up and go back through customs. I had no Malaysian currency on me but I remember that I had bought a pair of earings in the Bangkok airport with the last of my Baht and I saw he was wearing a wedding ring. I pulled them out of my bag and put them on his desk and said, “please take this for your wife”. I have no money on me but THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for your help. He was unwilling to take it but I would not take them back and left them on his desk as I rushed out.
I ran back to customs, waited 30 minutes in line, where they stamped “departure” in my passport, then took a shuttle to the next terminal and got to my gate right as my flight was boarding. I got on my flight and looked for my seat. I was in a middle seat!! The “queen of flying” and first class travel was in a middle seat for a 12 hour flight. AHHH- my biggest fear, but I have to say, I didn’t mind one bit that day!