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Monday, February 10

The story of the delayed Emirates flight.


As some of you may know, I almost missed CNY reunion dinner due to a flight delay. Here is the full story of my 24 hour adventure at the Warsaw Chopin International Airport.

AT THE AIRPORT -
On the morning of the 28th, I trudged my luggage through the snowy streets of Warsaw, 5 hours before my flight. My intentions were to claim my tax refunds and still have some spare time for myself before I check in / board the plane. When I arrived at the airport, to my dismay, I was told that I'm only allowed to collect my refunds AFTER I've checked in. At that point, my check in time wasn't until 2 hours later but well, I figured I could roam around the unbelievably boring airport for a bit. I found a coffee shop and sat down for a morning dose but I was soon interrupted by a security guard. Apparently the whole departure hall is being evacuated.

Everyone was asked to stay on the arrival hall, which is a floor below the departure hall. I didn't speak any Polish, and neither of the people around me spoke English, but I could see masked men and soldiers parading the floors above us. I could vaguely make out from the speakers that some isolated mysterious bag has been left somewhere at the airport and the authorities are carrying out a security check. Well, lucky for me, my flight was hours away. For me, I was more kancheong about exceeding my luggage allowance than a bomb. #truestory.

After some time, we were allowed upstairs and my check in opened. Cannot believe I was first in line !! By a miracle, I managed to pack ALL my things into my luggage and it didn't go overweight ! 

All this and a whole lot more for 29kgs out of 30kgs. Such blessing, much thanks. The man at the counter was a little anal about me having too many hand luggages, so he advised me to transfer some things into my check-in luggage, and just like that he sent me off to the tax refund counter.

Faced more trouble at the tax refund counter because I was claiming some things for a friend, but I didn't have the goods with me. Unlucky enough, they were all expensive branded goods, and the officer was a lady. She wanted to see the list of branded goods that I did not have on me, and was really suspicious when I said that I won't be claiming those. Nevertheless she didn't stop me from claiming refunds for things that I did have.

AT THE DEPARTURE GATE -
After check-in, I went to the departure gate to wait for boarding at 1350hours. Met a bunch of Malaysians studying in Poland. Pity I was already leaving the country. When it was time to board, everyone received news that the flight would be delayed for 20 minutes

20 minutes later
We were told once again that we are delayed for 20 more minutes due to a prolonged refuelling process. The 20 minute delay announcements went on for a couple of times and everyone was getting very impatient. Soon thereafter, we were allowed to board the plane. We got comfortable in our seats, I chatted up with an Ethiopian man who was sitting next to me, and a Chinese man behind me who speaks fluent Polish. Little did we know we were gonna be great companions for 24 hours. 

About 40 minutes later
Our plane has not taken flight. Everyone was getting uneasy, and the air stewards/stewardess tried their best to entertain angry passengers by chatting and taking pictures with them. We were told that there has been a problem with one of the computers on the plane, thus it would be against Emirates' safety rules to take flight. We were then asked to un-board the plane. 

Sorry I only have insta pictures. It looked terribly cold outside.

Back at the boarding gate, we were provided with vegetarian Subway sandwiches. The Chinese man was extremely helpful as he translated much of the instructions and announcements that were in Polish for me. He wasn't bothered by the delay at first as he had a 5 hour transit in Dubai before his flight to Shanghai, but as we got delayed again and again, he started getting very impatient as he was on his way home for CNY eve dinner as well and he didn't want to miss his connecting flight to Shanghai as it is almost impossible to buy another train ticket from Shanghai to his suburb. Long story short, he missed that flight. We were delayed for one more hour as the engineers of Emirates tried to revive the faulty computer.

The conversations of the impatient Polish (translated by Chinese) were really entertaining. One man got off the plane and loudly exclaimed "WELCOME TO DUBAI. That was fast." Another man was saying "I have a computer, I can lend it to the pilot." Hilarious.

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Finally around 6 in the evening, we were told we could board the plane. Everyone was clapping and cheering. People were excitedly boarding the plane and after a long day, I was just glad that we are getting somewhere. When everyone has boarded the plane, the pilot announced that we would be flying in 5 minutes. Imagine the joy !

5 minutes later
"We at Emirates are sorry to announce that we won't be flying today. The computer was working fine for the last hour but it seems to have went off again now. We kindly ask everyone to unboard the plane and wait for further instructions." LOL I can sense that some of the Polish were almost flipping their tables. For me however, the adventure didn't stop there. 

AT THE IMMIGRATION BORDER -

We unboarded the plane, registered for the hotel room Emirates provided us and was going through the security borders and metal gates again, to collect our checked in luggage and leave the terminal. I was one of the last people and was accompanied by the Chinese man. At the security border however, I was stopped by a few Polish officers who seemed extremely excited to see a Malaysian passport. I was confused and lost but with the help of my new Chinese friend, I was told that the Polish immigration officers needed my help. We went through the metal bars again and I was met with 2 Indian women and a tall man. I was apparently asked to judge if those people are from Malaysia. To me, it was super exciting stuff. Imagine that ! Felt like I was some cool detective for the immigration department wtf. 

I managed to splurt some broken Malay and confirmed that the two females were Malaysian. I then spoke to the tall Indian man, but was told that he was from the estate, and doesn't speak much Malay. Sort of makes sense but at the same time, hard to believe. One of the Indian girls then pleaded me for help, and said that one of their Chindian friend is detained as the Polish were suspicious. I asked to see this Chindian man, and out walked, a very Bangladeshi looking man who didn't speak Malay at all.  Their passports looked different from mine, and had plastic covering the first page. I expressed my doubts on the men, and was then told my Emirates bus was leaving. So I had to make a run for it. Grab my check-in luggage and run out into the snow. 29kgs luggage + handbag + handluggage are not easy things to run in snow. #fact. Waited on the bus for 30 more minutes because there were some lost tourist that didn't know where to find the bus (I wouldn't know either if not for the Chinese man). It was already 10pm when I checked into my hotel. Emirates fed us and I finally got some rest. 

Back in snowy Warsaw central.

THE NEXT DAY -
The next day we were fed again, and had to lug our luggage out to the bus in a -15degrees snow storm (Coldest I've EVER been in. EVER). At the check-in counter, I was surprised to be told my luggage was overweight and I had to remove some items. Luckily I was able to dump some stuff into my hand luggage. Originally, I had a transit time of 12 hours in Dubai. Now that it was delayed, I wanted the earliest flight out to Malaysia. There was 1 at 3am in the morning, but the lady at the counter said that its full and die die wouldn't let me be upgraded to Business Class (there was seats on Business), but good enough, they got me on the flight at 4am with only 5 hours in transit.

Our boarding time was delayed again though, but thankfully only for 20minutes this time. Sat next to a cute Arabian boy who had a rather unlucky friend. One of his friends successfully got on the plane the day before, but was detained at the immigration border due to visa issues after our flight was cancelled. He wasn't allowed to leave the airport, and when he finally got help from the embassy, he was already late for the flight we were on. 

Despite all the trouble and waiting, I found it quite a fun adventure. I met the nicest people, especially the Ethiopian and Chinese man, who took turns carrying my luggage (I didn't even ask !), translated things for me, and it was just great fun chatting and helping each other out. Chatting with strangers on the plane is now my hobby. You won't believe what kind of people you will meet. I even managed to have a conversation with a Polish uncle who only knew few English words.
"You, where? Malaysia? Warsaw, holiday? Like ?"
Couldn't believe my luck as well when it came to the luggage weight and the timing of my arrival. I arrived right in time for dinner ! 

Much thanks to the best driver in the whole world too for driving all the way down to KL to get me.

Finally home ! Looking back, I really couldn't have done this trip without blessings from Jesus. Just the night before my flight, I actually even got into a minor car accident where the police came and they wanted to detain me ! Thankfully for the nice Polish taxi driver who pulled me out of the mess. Oddly enough, I wasn't scared or afraid at all. Usually I would freak out, but this time I just calmly made friends and laughed at silly "How many Emirates engineers does it take to change a computer" jokes. It was all good fun and I am glad that God's confidence and courage stayed with me throughout the whole 71 days.


Life is sah good.
More Europe updates soon ! 

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