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.
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.