20151023 Charity begins at home – not. And other short stories.

Friday, 23 October, 2015 – 04:18

After a few days in the UK, I’m back in Kuala Lumpur. It’s been an interesting trip.

First, there was the immense contrast between service levels of different airlines.

I’ve written before about how a Middle Eastern airline decided to cancel the already issued boarding passes of about a dozen transit passengers when an inbound flight was slightly delayed, presuming that they would not make it to the gate on time: in fact, despite mis-information and staff-created delays and no help from airline or airport, we all did but the airline refused us boarding and stranded us for 8 hours. I’ve not named them here because they have resolved my own case to my satisfaction. I have no idea how others got on with any complaints they may have made.

Contrast that with Cathay Pacific: after being pushed back at KLIA, the Boeing B777 returned to the gate because the toilets were not working properly. That much I knew – the stench was awful, even while we were boarding. I hate flying on Boeings: aside from the noise and the things shaking like they are falling to pieces, the seats are arse-bruisingly uncomfortable and, on the B777 at least, some idiot with a totalitarian mindset dispensed with individual air vents so that all passengers are subjected to the same temperature which, inevitably, is either too hot or too cold for many. Those who are cold can load up with blankets. Those, like me, who have a naturally high body temperature, can do nothing to cool down.

Anyway, that’s not the point of the story: it’s that we arrived in Hong Kong more than an hour late and that left insufficient time for me to make it to my connecting flight by any normal means. In fact, I had only 15 minutes But this is an airline for which service is the number one priority.

I was met at the ramp, introduced to a young woman who has but one job: to rush delayed passengers to their connecting flights. And rush we did: we didn’t actually hurdle over entry gates in the style of movies, but we used staff and VIP channels, even jumping queues in those lanes. She didn’t have a horn to honk when people didn’t get out of the way as we used travellators to boost our walking speed, but she found that I did. Sort of. Booming “excuse me,” I cleared the way like an auditory snowplough.

I arrived at the gate, was introduced to the boarding clerk at the business check-in, despite being on an economy ticket, and boarded, incredibly, not quite last. The young woman had turned and shot off before I had chance to thank her, waving acknowledgement that she had heard me as she raced off to solve someone else’s problem.