For the last three hours, I’ve been sitting with my knees lodged to the seat in front of me, in a Jetstar Airbus A320. The same type of aircraft Emma and I flew to Bali last time.
Sadly though this is a solo flight for me, as today I’m returning to Europe in anticipation of receiving my prospective spouse visa (subclass 300 for the initiated among us). I booked this longer than normal way back for the simple reason that KLM would give me a small discount for catching their plane in Bali instead of Singapore, and the added bonus of having the sweet extra leg room in their economy comfort class for most of the journey. Obviously I did not take into account the less than standard leg room on the price fighter airlines.
I wrote before how I believed to be spoiled by long haul intercontinental flights, but today I learned that it is not necessarily my fault. I was well aware price fighters don’t give you meals unless you pay for them, so I ate something before boarding the plane and took my seat. Now to clarify, I go by my second name in daily life, so I was surprised to be addressed by my first name by the flight attendant, and even more surprised when he asked me what I would like to eat. I kindly told him I didn’t order or booked any meals. Turns out KLM had, on my behalf! The sweethearts.
I realise that whoever decided KLM should do this will probably never read this, but if you somehow do, thank you very much. I was feeling very sad for leaving my newfound home behind and even though it was airline food it was still nice to eat a warm meal, and it cheered me up.
I’ve written about flying to Bali before, and if you think there is no difference between budget airlines, think again. We had a smooth take off, smooth flight, and the general atmosphere in the cabin feels better than last time. Only annoying thing that happened was when I went to check-in. For some reason the computer wouldn’t allow my suitcase to be tagged for Amsterdam, nor would it give me my boarding pass for my connecting flight. I don’t care much about the boarding pass, for I can get that one at the transfer desk at Denpasar, but when the check in manager told his employee to tell me (surprise knobhead, I’m standing right in front of you, just tell it to my face instead of having your colleague break the bad new to me) that KLM will sort it out in Bali, I wasn’t exactly happy. So they tagged my suitcase for Bali and send me on my way. He fixed his problem, basically by making it mine. Good thing I suffer from bouts of superiority complex so I’ll probably be able to get it sorted quicker in Bali than he would be in Perth. Mind you, that feeling is slowly evaporating as I come closer to Bali.
Fun fact; in that suitcase, which undoubtedly, eventually, will find its way to Amsterdam, are (half) our wedding invitations! Designed and printed within a week and a half, finishing half an hour before we had to leave for the airport, the business we picked really came through for us! And since I’ve been naming airlines, I might as well name them too; Felicitations in Osborne Park. They’re on Main Street near the intersection with Scarborough Beach Road.
So yeah I really hope my suitcase will be waiting for me in Amsterdam, but time will tell.
Think about it
It is always a gamble who will be you neighbour on airplanes. So far I’ve been fairly lucky, except for that junky on AirAsia, and a nervous guy who tried to make me move seats so he would have the whole row to himself on Etihad, back in April. I’m not a talker, and quite frankly I don’t care for other people on the airplane on a personal level. So I am really pleased that my neighbours are keeping to themselves and the biggest talker is seated in front of me. Poor guy next to him hasn’t been able to share a sentence with his wife since the seatbelt sign came on. At one point I overheard the old guy saying “think about it” which I think is a telltale sign of a ludicrous previous statement.
Bummer, this not-to-bad experience just turned from a multimillion airplane into a subway. We are getting ready for descend and all of a sudden the Captain comes on the intercom to ask us for our small change for some wacky fund. Too bad my wallet is stowed away somewhere in the overhead bins and the seatbelt sign is on Captain Cash, now I can’t fall for your collection plate antics.
Sadly we’re not the only ones who’d like to land in Bali and we are currently #8 in the queue to land, which means another 50 minutes in the air. At least I won’t be parting from my suitcase for another hour or so.
I enquired. I was correct.
On arriving at the transfer counter I was slightly unnerved to see just one guy sitting there. There was a girl in front of me which I had previously overheard talking about flying to Amsterdam. I guessed she was having the same problem thrust upon her by the overly helpful Jetstar employee. I enquired. I was correct. So we tackled our mutual problem as a team.
The lonely man smiled politely and send us to the first counter, who promptly send us through to the last counter, who continued by sending us back to the lonely man. So far we were going nowhere fast. The lonely man suddenly sprung into action though and took our passports, before disappearing. This was not exactly the best thing, and Jess started to get annoyed that everything was taking so long and nobody knew why. Eventually we figured out that the lonely man was going to the check-in desk to check us into our remaining flights. I thought I had a long day with 24 hours of travel, but Jess is going on towards Florence after Amsterdam!
Anyway everything was promptly sorted and I felt like we were in the secret basement of Denpasar, just the two of us going through a security checkpoint and then taking a movie-style ominous elevator, the only buttons where floor 1 and 3, which spit us out in the middle of the gate area. We made it! We went for something to eat and a look at the bookstore but couldn’t find much interesting. She lend me her charger, since I’m the kind of weirdo who does pack his USB cable but then throws the actual charger in his suitcase.
A slightly intrusive hippie
After confirming with the people at the gate that our bags where on board and labeled correctly, we waited in the sitting area of our gate, while the building was pelted with a fierce storm outside. So fierce actually that every now and then water came through the ceiling.
We are now descending into Singapore, after a short and uneventful flight. Again no talker next to me, but a slightly intrusive hippie which looks like she would blow away if I fart in her general direction. She strikes me as one of those shitty ones that believes she does everything better by not enjoying life and therefore has a weird sense of entitlement. But that’s just a guess of course.
It’s a shame Jess is seated somewhere in the 40’s just past the middle of the plane, because I treated myself to seat 12C (in my opinion the best seat in the KLM Boeing 777-300) which means I’m near the front of the plane. I don’t think it’s my place to tell a lot about Jess, but she travels a lot, and she started her own blog recently, so you can find out about her yourself if you want. I reckon it will be worth it. Once she gets around to start it 😉
So now we’re waiting at Singapore to re-board the airplane, again taking all my electronics out of my bag, which means camera and all lenses. I haven’t taken one of those lenses out of that bag for months, and now I have taken it out four times today already. Once we are ushered back into the plane I have another 12 hours or so to go. At least I don’t have to go to Florence.
Can’t compete with that
All settled in for the last leg of the flight, and the KLM food is up to par with previous flights. A bit disappointing that the cleaners in Singapore threw my water away (and Jess’ little stockpile too) but I’m up to two extra bottles by now. And the middle seat is empty! I thought about asking Jess to join me, but through the inflight chat system I learned she actually has the entire row of seats to herself. Can’t compete with that, no matter who you are!
Just woke up after a couple of hours of restless sleep, I envy those who get on board with one eye shut and fall asleep halfway through the safety lecture. I even tried the earplugs and face mask this time, but all that does is force your eyes shut, which isn’t the same as sleep. And my back hurts like hell for some reason. I really want to get some sleep now, so I’ll be able to stay awake for the rest of the day after landing, and combat my jet lag. But I guess you can’t always have what you want.
Why do they still fit the lavatories with an ashtray? No one is allowed to smoke (for obvious reasons like being in a metal tube filled with pressurised air) anyway so why would you waste money on such a feature? Cars don’t have ashtrays anymore, or trains, so why planes? (Think about it)
I managed to sleep for a few hours, maybe those face masks do have a use. I’d rather sleep some more but I’m really awake now so I decided to watch a movie. We’re running into some turbulence now, but to me it always feels like riding the old gravel roads in Switzerland before they paved over everything, I find it soothing. That probably won’t last if it ever gets real intense, but for now I don’t mind a little turbulence.
We’ve got just over two hours left on this flight and the cabin crew has turned on the soft ambience lights in the cabin to gently wake people up. I’m curious to discover what breakfast will be today. And then I’ll have the difficult task of not going to sleep too early today, in the hopes of getting in a good rhythm right away.
Maybe I’m old-fashioned
Well, we are currently over Germany and will start our descend into Amsterdam shortly. There I’ll be undoubtedly greeted by some cranky customs agent who feels the need to ask me all kinds of question. I almost forgot how much I get treated like a terrorist because of my beard in Europe. Last time I came back they couldn’t even be arsed to extend a shallow welcome home, which I think is the least they could do. Maybe I’m old-fashioned.
The suitcase arrived! Third on the baggage belt too! I don’t know for sure if Jess’ bags made it, but I feel confident they did. It was a refreshing change to make a friend during the flight. I normally just don’ t care very much for strangers, but I guess being in the same situation kind of bonds a little. And she was funny, that helps too.
At the airport the guys picked me up and I’ve been feeling like it’s late in the day all day long, but it isn’t even late in the arvo yet. I’m just happy to still be awake. I’m half way through settling in at my parents apartment in The Hague, and strangely enjoy the freezing cold. It’s like one big nationwide air-conditioning. I’ll be back with a normal blog post as soon as I have enough to write about, and I realise this blog post was very different from what I normally post. Not only in terms of setup, but also in length. I hope you still liked it, and would like to thank you for choosing to fly with Bearded Downunder today.