Lounging in the Airport

I have a secret.

I am scared of airports.

On my first international travel (I was a student-delegate to Singapore) I faced the meanest-looking immigration officer in Manila terminal. Only God knows how I got past her. In Singapore immigration I was detained and had to go through security scans and questioning.

That was the beginning of my series of unfortunate airport-events. Once upon a time I went to the wrong terminal and nearly missed my flight. Once upon a time I got questioned for almost half an hour in immigration. Once upon a time a baggage handler cunningly extorted money from me. Once upon a time I was left in an airport alone except for the cleaners.

AUH Terminal from Kish Island.

Once upon a time I was in the wrong line and had to line up again for another 2 hours. Once upon a time, I had to enter the airport with a person I despise so much, who guarded me out of the country like a prisoner. Once upon a time I missed my flight.

Fast forward to August 2012.

I entered Manila NAIA terminal and saw extremely long lines for check-in, like queues for a sold-out concert. I went straight to the empty-queue business class counter. Baggage checked in ora mismo!

Then this wonderful exchange happened:

Agent: Ma’am you’re headed to Abu Dhabi, you have to go to that line to have your visa authenticated.

Me: Which line?

Agent points to a single long line where a lady sat stamping passports.

Me: (Prepares to go) Oh, okay.

Agent looks at my ticket.

Agent: Oh, you’re business class. Hold on, you can wait here. I’ll go authenticate this for you.

He comes back in less than a minute, hands me my ticket together with this…

I went through immigration like a breeze.

While I was trying to look for the Etihad Lounge, I ended up in the boarding gates. I saw the crowd of people waiting, a lot of them standing because there were no more seats.

I went back searching until I saw this…

I had to go up scary stairs to get here.

It’s sad that the only smiling person in the NAIA airport was a poster.

Can’t choose which chair to sit in.

Perfect example of reality not meeting expectations.

All I can say is: we could do better than this.

Nevertheless, free food always warms my tummy.

When boarding time came, I was the FIRST one let inside the plane – first, before the pregnant women and rowdy children.

It’s amazing how a  ”golden” ticket could make a big difference in your travel. I am a person who doesn’t bask in luxury. But this time, it was worth it because I was travelling with tonsillitis, high fever, clogged nose and a low spirit (after a very short-insufficient family time).

Looking forward to airports becoming less scary one travel at a time.

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