The airline you choose to fly with is more than important as it can be the ruler of the journey there being a feast or a debacle. It is not all about the flight however. The airport you depart from or have a stopover at can also hugely affect the overall experience. Whether you’re lounging in a laid-back chair at Dubai or you’re at the brink of a verbal fight with yet another idiot at a South-African airport, it matters. When your flight has delay on top of delay, it would be lovely to spend these crawling hours of waiting somewhere pleasant. For such, Singapore will be a joy to depart from. Since you fly through check-in, there will be guaranteed copious time to wander the premises of this wonderful airport. But with the opposite, having little wiggle room, airports like Frankfurt, where it takes buses, slow queues and poorly-timed defect check-ins to get to your connecting flight are far from entertaining. Manila where the chain of people begins a block away from the airport and the inside is a chaotic mingle of heads does not fare much better.
Furthermore, whether you have the urge to update the entire social media of your riveting life or crave for another episode of your favourite show to kill time, the desperate need of internet is at an all-time high at the airport. For that reason, with most having weak spots in abundance and along with it annoying conditions such as “30 minutes max”, Hong Kong scores well due to its consistent and strong internet throughout. Lastly, worthy of a mention is Lahore, where upon landing a minor miracle had occurred. From the bleak, grim booth of passport control appeared a smile. What used to be the home of morose men and women where grunts and growls tend to make the conversation and eye contact is rarely made, was now a man bearing a broad smile. Question after question, he had long forgotten the rule of being dour that applies to the ones in that seat. Then he went on to share stories of a travelling friend before he sent me into Pakistan with a smile.
In addition to airports and flying, there is a process that comes months (for the spontaneous ones among us days or weeks) before the actual drive to the airport. I am of course talking about the booking of the ticket. There are heaps of sites and airlines to book and buy through, each with offers and deals differing from the others. Therefore, you should take serious consideration and time before making the final decision. My first flight, I hadn’t. WTC had been my great pal. A return from Netherlands to South-Africa and a stopover in London. Insurance had been purchased. Roused with excitement I stood in the line seconds away from bumping into the initial issue. Given a generous two hours to transfer in London, I soon learned that it would be a race against the clock. Though indeed landing in London, my flight of departure would be from a different airport in the same city. My obliviousness had been to blame, but I was told and I knew, that WTC was at fault too due to a lack of red-flagging the issue. Though I had nailed the 2-hour sprint, it was not the last drama I had with WTC.
I see it as a learning curve however. Nowadays I gravitate towards using Skyscanner and through that make a pick. A safe bet tends to be kiwi.com and a recent experience with them also incentivised me into writing all these. Aside from the quick and easy process of the booking – and the price tending to be inclusive – they offer an exceptional customer service. When they had messed up grandly and I was stranded in Kuala Lumpur, they had swiftly fixed their mistake. While they spoke with my friend and significant other, as I sat with a dying phone, I headed to the arranged hotel room where I awaited confirmation of my new booking. That night, I drank with a Malay buddy of mine and his friends which had been on my expense as days after I received a substantial compensation from the company. Kiwi had given me the chance to a night out with an old friend and stayed in contact to reassure my well-being along the way. So, next time you book a flight and you have the time, look into the airline you’re flying with, where you book it through and finally, if possible, have the stopover be in a country with an airport of ease to make the overall journey one of comfort and assurance.
That about sums up part of the extremes I experienced. Travelling by plane can be horrendous and mind-numbing, but if you make something out of it, it can also be exciting and fun. What are your experiences with flying?