Saturday, October 12, 2013

How Not To Run An Airline (Part Two)

It's been a few months since the last blog.  Indeed, I am not blogging very much these days.  For the last eighteen months, my entire life has been in an emotional limbo.  At some point, since these pages often have a confessional tone, I may reveal why, but I don't think I'm quite ready yet.

However, I think a report on the resolution of the Air Asia incident might prove entertaining....

You see, a week or so after the incident written about below, I received a response from the owner of Air Asia.  He apologized for the incident and said it seemed to be about the intransigence of a single employee, not Air Asia policy.  All this is true.  I wondered whether they would give me any free flights, or at the very least pay some compensation, since I had paid the premium fee in order to be able to get off the plane quickly, and Ms. Salaya had caused the entire off-loading of the passengers to be delayed by forty minutes with her eccentric accusations.

It chanced, however, that yesterday I came to fly Air Asia again, and again I was travelling with my nephew Top.  We were in Chiengmai airport and the line onto the plane wasn't moving.

"Maybe Salaya's on this flight, kicking up some other fuss," I joked.

"Ha, ha," Top said, "Let's fly the Hong Kong leg again sometime, just to visit our old friend."

And so, laughing and joking as we waiting an inordinately long time in a queue that seemed to last forever, we eventually came face to face with Ms. Salaya.  She had changed her hairstyle, and at first I didn't realize it was her ... I had to double-check with Top, who actually had to look at my blog to see if her photograph matched.  It did.

Salaya never looked at us, never made any kind of eye contact so I couldn't very well initiate a conversation.

When we sat down, Top said, "I forgot to tell you; the owner's daughter told me that Salaya was suspended for five days as a result of 'The Incident'."

I thought this was eminently fair: she should be taught a lesson, rather than actually being kicked out.  I never wanted to be responsible for the destruction of her entire career as a flight attendant.  It did occur to me that this domestic run was probably less prestigious than Hong Kong, so perhaps she had also been reassigned to a slightly less glamorous route.

In any case the staff were exceptionally polite at all times.  Except Salaya that is; she avoided any possibility of contact whatsoever, and hid in the back whenever there was a reason for the flight attendants to go up and down the aisle.

Now Top, you must understand, is not un-mischievous.  He said, "I'll find a way to talk to her, whether she wants to or not."  So shortly before landing, he went to the lavatory, which had been locked for descent, and told her he really had to go, so she had to unlock it.  When he exited, he said to her, "Why don't you check the lavatory out?  Maybe someone has activated a life vest."

"Kha, kha, kha," said Ms Salaya.  As Top returned to his seat, she then spent the next few minutes with a colleague, turning the lavatory inside out.

It was a little cruel of Top, but she did subject us to a ridiculous police investigation and hold up an entire flight on the ground....

But here's the delicious part.  Top and I were sitting somewhere in the 8th row of the plane.  After it landed, on the way out, I decided, on a whim, to look under the seats in Row 1, the row we had been sitting in when the fateful incident in Hong Kong occurred.

On that occasion, Top was in 1F, the window seat on the starboard side.  I made a joke to Top as we walked passed that row of seats on our way out.

"I bet the life jacket's missing again," I said.

We both looked over to Seat 1F.

I glanced under the seat.

Guess what?

The life jacket was missing.

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