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Have You Ever Had A Long Flight From Hell?

Tue Jan 13, 2004 3:44 am

I once volunteered to go with a group in 1979 to translate Vietnamise to English for the "boat people" who had escaped to Thailand from Vietnam. I was told the refugee assistance group had charted a 747 from World Airlines, and we would fly Oakland to HKG, overnight, then on to BKK where we would deplane and head to the refugee camps while the plane would fill up with processed refugees and head back to Oakland. I was told the entire plane was going to be empty all the way to BKK! Wow! I could bring a sleeping bag and walkman and really go in style! guess cut costs, the group had somehow worked with a travel agent in S.F. who sold almost 500 seats @ $200 a pop, one way, to HKG! This freaking plane was a high density refugee evacuation plane, and was so packed that we damn near died we even had to make an emergency fuel stop in TPE because of the headwinds, and weight! the website has a photo of this plane under 747 100's WORLD AIRWAYS imagine sitting in a plastic chair jammed with people over you! I has to pay $56 for this trip (food? Ins?) I'm scarred for life!
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RE: Have You Ever Had A Long Flight From Hell?

Tue Jan 13, 2004 3:55 am

My shittiest flight was on BA, SFO-LHR. Don't know what happened to leg room on this 747, but I don't remember ever being this cramped in coach. What a miserable plane. I'm somewhat tall and was cursing the idiot with the backrest in front of me even before we pushed back.

One of my best coach experiences was with a SAS/StarAlliance Airbus330, EWR-CPH. Just awsome.
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RE: Have You Ever Had A Long Flight From Hell?

Tue Jan 13, 2004 4:32 am

Worst flight? Nothing compares to my experiences with Tower Air (R.I.P). A memorable one was ARN-OSL-JFK in the mid eighties. The a/c was an old former PanAm 747. It must have been one of the absolutely first 747:s ever manufactured. On the fuselage the PanAm titles were covered with white paint and Tower Air stickers applied over it. Inside the a/c nothing hinted you were on a Tower Air flight. Everything was as PanAm left it when selling the a/c. Life vests, all markings, everything bore the PanAm logo. Tower had just added one thing...guess! Yeah, more seats!! Spose they infact bought two 747:s, took all the seats from one of'em, scrapped that one and shoved it all in the other one. Seat pitch? I'd guess bout 25 inches. Might have been 26. Once we'd squeezed in the seats, there was no way for the row in front of us to sit in no other position than upright. Trying anything else would have meant serious damage to our legs. Well. As I remember we left on time, made a stop in Oslo to pick up more pax and were on our way again. The flight was uneventful, i.e. no movies, nothing to drink apart from what might have come with the meal, which btw was allmost impossible to eat cause the lack of space. Mind you, I'm not tall and I'm quite thin, so is my brother who at this time was my travel companion. The landing in NY was slam dunk, hit the brakes and evacuate runway. Never before, never after I've experienced such a hard landing. Well, anyway, we got there, In one piece. More or less. The return flight was 8 hours delayed, an old Alitalia a/c, if my memory serves me and the a/c leaving JFK just before us was the Concorde.....
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RE: Have You Ever Had A Long Flight From Hell?

Tue Jan 13, 2004 4:43 am

My worst flight experience ever is about 4 years back.
First of all to say about Thai Airways is that I regret very much to choose this very bad airline as an option. Anyway, I have taken Thai Airways on a route from Seoul via Taipeh and Bangkok to Paris and on another route from Munich via Bangkok and Hong Kong to Seoul.

Ok...Let's go into detail. The first flight I have taken was the flight from Seoul via Taipeh to Bangkok. Flight in Seoul was late for about 30 minutes, cuz incoming flight already arrived late. After we took off, we were served with some refreshments plus coffee and tea. Later on we got some sandwiches with another refreshments for dinner. We got exactly same meal on both flight legs.

In Bangkok I had to change my flight. It was very difficult to find the right gate. Anyway, this is not Thai Airways fault. After I reached the gate it was showing flight will be late, no mention how much late. After two hours waiting I went to the Thai Airways desk to ask politely how long it could be take to depart. Very rude and short answer followed: "Just keep sitting in your seat and wait until we make announcement!" So I kept silence sitting in my sea??t in front of the gate and waited another 6 hours. Finally announcement was made and we went on the plane. First impression of all while looking for my seat was that the plane was very dirty. Really dirty ! Finally everyone sat down and we went for departure. After about 30 minutes captain made a short announcement that every electronical things on the plane is not working and that also light and air conditioning is not able to use. Also captain announced some power failure and we had to fly at a level of 29000 feet. After 3 hours in flight we got some refreshments with cold coffee and cold tea. Also food was like frozen and I was wondering they just served a plate with sandwiches and salad and fruits on a 11 hours flight. I was happy when we arrived at Paris airport.

The flight back from Munich to Bangkok was as horrible as the flight to Paris. First of all when I arrived at Munich airport to check in, the ground staff told me, that the plane will be late for a couple of hours. Anyway, checked in, went to the gate and just waited. After about ten hours finally the flight arrived and after waiting for another one hour we finally could board our plane to Bangkok. First impression while on the plane again, it was very dirty again. After everyone was sitting down a short announcement from the captain came where he told us the flying time and cuz of a problem with oxygen in the cockpit and cabin we had to fly a lower altitude again. Anyway, plane was very cold that night, without air conditioning again. Many passengers were politely asking for another cover cuz they felt very cold like me. Crew just answered "We don't offer more covers on economy. Pay more and you could get another one in first class. Otherwise just sit down and relax". Finally after two hours a meal was served. This time it was some sort of chicken with rice and salad. It looked nice and taste also was quite good, even the food was cold again. We got several sorts of refreshments and some coffee and tea....This time coffee and tea was served warm. After a few hours of flying they came around again with refreshments, altogether 3 times on the flight.

Than we arrived in Bangkok. Of course my connecting flight already had gone and I was booked over to another Thai Airways flight, via Hong Kong to Seoul. This flight was quite nice as already the flight from Seoul to Bangkok was. Specially Korean stuff on board let feel me more comfortable than the very rude Thai stuff I experienced on my flights before.

Anyway, I definitely never would recommend Thai Airways to anyone and I really hope I never need to fly them again !!!

fly Korean Air ....
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RE: Have You Ever Had A Long Flight From Hell?

Tue Jan 13, 2004 4:45 am

I've only had a long flight to hell.  Nuts

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RE: Have You Ever Had A Long Flight From Hell?

Tue Jan 13, 2004 5:10 am

I rode in a C141 from Guam to Hawaii, the aircraft was carrying computer parts, so it was very cold as well as noisy. When I got to HNL, after a 5 hour ground time, I was bumped at the last minute, I was trying to get to New York. Let's see, they flew me from HNL to San Diego, Sand Diego to Los Angeles, Los Angeles to Chicago, & then finally to New York. Flight from hell & when I landed, I smelled like it!

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RE: Have You Ever Had A Long Flight From Hell?

Tue Jan 13, 2004 6:44 am

I consider a flight I had on the now defunct Air Afrique back in 2000 a trip from hell
between Dakar and JFK
our ac had never left Accra eventhough we were transported to the airport by the tour guides.
We were then taken to a different hotel in Dakar resulting in an unscheduled delay.
When we finally got taken back to the airport in Dakar the next day, it was open seating on an A300, not a pretty sight. Every man, woman and child for themselves!
The luggage had been left to bake in the African sun and had to be reclaimed by sight before boarding.
After take off there was an announcent in French I might add that amounted to a unscheduled stop in Cape Verde for refueling, a 50 min flight from Dakar to Cape Verde.
I happened to be sitting over the wing and watched the refueling process.
We were not allowed to leave the aircraft.
I noticed that fuel was leaking from the wing.
The tank was topped up again.
After we finally got airborne, I took a sleeping pill, and slowly came out of my daze we were landing at JFK.
RIP Air Afrique.
Suing is the new Lotto... if u wanna win u gotta sue!
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RE: Have You Ever Had A Long Flight From Hell?

Tue Jan 13, 2004 7:24 am

GRU - MIA in the middle seat of a fully loaded AA 777 in coach.
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RE: Have You Ever Had A Long Flight From Hell?

Tue Jan 13, 2004 7:25 am

oh about 4 weeks ago- Virgin Atlantic LHR-LAX on an A340. Normally I adore this flight because it leaves London late and I can take my sweet time getting to the airport ( and usually take too long!). Ive never had a bad experience on VS, and this flight wasnt their fault, it was definitely a pax problem. Probably the only flight where I got off the plane feeling like I was about to have a nervous breakdown and needing to cry/scream/hit something...

I guess I should have known something was amiss when they were checking passports before getting into the gate boarding area and the people in front of me dumped their bags and strollers and kids in order to get out a HUGE wad of green cards/visas/tickets/random paper to show the agent. They were only PART of this large group of 30+ Orthodox Jews ( i mean no antisemitism by this, but thats what they happened to be) on their way to god knows where. It took them forever to look through the documents, which were all amiss, meanwhile i, and the people behind me, are trying to step over all their carry on luggage to get around them to use another agent. Once inside that hold area another member of their group was giving this poor poor agent absolute utter GRIEF about where their luggage was. Something about BA. The lady had to tell the guy, who wouldnt listen and wouldnt be quiet ( i found this to be the case with that group for the rest of the day) that she was very busy to get the plane out on time, but his luggage was with BA and they were waiting for it to be transferred and until then she could not assist him but that he needed to understand that the plane was not leaving until his luggage was loaded. Apparently he wanted to see it in the flesh and just would not quit. NExt to me in the lounge this lady travelling with two small children was struggling with one who was teething. Now never having been stuck near children I thought I would put up with it until I got on the plane...

On the plane- well, the two rows ahead of me contained nine babies, INCLUDING the one that was teething, who proceeded to scream and holler and be miserable the ENTIRE 10.5 hour flight. Meanwhile the orthodox jew group had expanded and they ALL had small children under the age of 3. None of these people were capable of sitting down and being quiet, and the VS ground crew were having a hell of a time trying to sort out this insane baggage situation and had to keep requesting luggage tags and the like from these people. Then MORE people got on who were ALSO clueless and between them and the jewish group they ALL were up and about wanderingn around. That flight was delayed by an hour. The attendants had to serve the jewish people first, and this was WAY before they even started serving the special meals, I figured it was just to get them to sit down so they could get the cart through. I have honestly never seen such a pushy and demanding group of people- drinks and food and this and that not to mention the plane around them was COMPLETELY trashed after the first beverage service- one woman was actually going to change her baby in full view of everyone on the seat as dinner was being served until the stewardess came runnign down the aisle and pointed her out to the lav that had the special changing table.

So there I am, this teething baby two seats in front of me hollering away, which automatically causes the other babies to be screaming, and then some of the jewish kids were the row in front of me and one of them thought it would be nice to stand RIGHT BY ME and pick his nose while staring at me eating my dinner. Parents did nothing to stop kid/kids from hitting each other/kids yelling at each other/kids wandering around. Needless to say im sure the kids were already pretty well exhausted from a flight earlier in the day but lordy have SOME control! Meanwhile I was sitting next to this older lady from Croatia who thought it ok to spit after she coughed on the side of the plane, not to mention taking her shoes off and progressively smelling worse as the flight wore on.

By the time we hit LAX I was swearing I would buy noise cancelling headphones. A look around the cabin saw a bunch of completely exhausted passengers, one man even starting grumbling quite loudly about the kids all constantly crying or screaming. And for one last measure, when the plane landed and we ALL just wanted to get off that plane, the orthodox jews had to stand up and unload abotu 60 pieces of carryon, and organize their kids in an commpletely unorganized manner, talk to each other and block up the entire aisle as their kids were squirming around. It would have taken them a good 20 minutes to get their act together, and with 100 people behind us I finally thought right, they have made my life hell for 11+ hours now, i dont care if there are women and children, im pushing through. They got the hint and finally pulled the kids to the side so everyone else could get off.

I dont mind children TOO much on a plane as for the most part the ones Ive had to sit around sleep through the flights. But nine of them, including a teething one screaming so loud it set your teeth on edge ( jesus woman, give the kid a cold washcloth to chew on at LEAST!) and others with no parental supervision at ALL, was way WAY too much!
Hang on tightly, Let go lightly
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RE: Have You Ever Had A Long Flight From Hell?

Tue Jan 13, 2004 9:34 am


I think you win the prize. That sounds like a complete nightmare.

My hell flt is a little tame in comparison. I was on a crowded Air Europe (RIP) 757 many years ago on ACA-LGW. Not only was the plane completely crowded with kids jumping and running up and down but I was in the back cabin sitting next to some serious chain smokers.

Naturally it was impossible to sleep and the dawn and this flt seemed to go on forever. Soon the F/A's gave out the breakfasts and my head reckoned it was about 6am and we must be mid Atlantic. Just as I got my meal the captain announced we were over BHX and we started to land. 15 mins later we were on the ground and it was 2pm in the afternoon. My head was screwed up for weeks after that.

Thankfully flts since then have been a little more bearable.

and with that..cabin crew, seats for landing please.
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RE: Have You Ever Had A Long Flight From Hell?

Tue Jan 13, 2004 9:40 am

I had two terrible long flights, both on Pan Am on their final days.

Both flights were MIA-GIG and on one of them, there was some problem with the aircraft (I was a kid back then) and we stayed 12 hours parked at the gate, nobody was allowed to leave the plane.

The other one was also about 5 hours late and when the plane finally took off, there wasn't enough food or drinks to serve all passengers. So there I was, in business class, with nothing to drink or eat.


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RE: Have You Ever Had A Long Flight From Hell?

Tue Jan 13, 2004 1:46 pm


It was a creche with wings for the most part! I still cant believe I lived through that- but I feel bad for the people who bought premium economy tickets and then had to sit next to the OTHER clueless group!
Hang on tightly, Let go lightly
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RE: Have You Ever Had A Long Flight From Hell?

Tue Jan 13, 2004 2:34 pm

YVR-LHR on BA, both ways. On the way up, over the Rockies all of a sudden the plane started to shake violently, an up-and-down kind of shaking, and we started losing altitude very fast. The plane was going down very fast, it was the first time in my life I was really scared on a plane. It only lasted maybe a minute or so, to me it seemed like an eternity. The pilot announced afterwards that within that minute we lost about 2000 feet, which I have no idea if it's a lot or not, but anyway it did not feel good.

On the way back, upon take-off the tail of the plane kept shaking left and right, a sign of the things to come. Over the Northwest Territories we encountered turbulence so we kept shaking left and right quite vigourously for about ten minutes. I distinctly remember thinking that my head will fall in my neighbour's lap if we keep going like this. Anyway, got back home profoundly religious.

RE: Have You Ever Had A Long Flight From Hell?

Tue Jan 13, 2004 4:03 pm

The simple answer is "Yes, every airline flight that I've taken in the past 4 or 5 years." Airline travel is quickly becoming a hellish nightmare of weather and traffic delays, crowds, security lines, screaming and unruly kids running up and down the isles, uncomfortable seats, poor food and missed connections and lost luggage. (OK you airline romantics - a challenging travel experience.) Heaven help you if you are unfortunate enough to have to travel on a one-way ticket, with no baggage, with a ticket that is purchased on short notice. This will guarantee you special attention from the friendly TSA folks. I'll admit I'm spoiled, but give me a seat on a corporate jet any day.
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RE: Have You Ever Had A Long Flight From Hell?

Tue Jan 13, 2004 4:10 pm

Mine was actually 3 weeks ago. It was a flight from Pittsburgh to Las Vegas. First the plane was late from the hangar. Then I was sitting with this really annoying people who where playing with the lights and playing cards the whole time. Plus it dint help that they where drinking and going to the bathroom every 10 minutes. Then like 1 hour before getting to Vegas we where re-routed towards phoenix because we hit a major storm. So we where 2+ hours late. I was tired and cranky.

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RE: Have You Ever Had A Long Flight From Hell?

Tue Jan 13, 2004 4:49 pm

Trans-pacific's in economy come pretty close...but they're okay...

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RE: Have You Ever Had A Long Flight From Hell?

Tue Jan 13, 2004 10:02 pm


You poor guy, your'e post made my day - what a hoot, I'm still laughing now.

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RE: Have You Ever Had A Long Flight From Hell?

Tue Jan 13, 2004 10:27 pm

KUL-LHR on Malaysian in September 2002. (Not Malaysians fault I should add).

First two hours out from KUL over the Bay of Bengal were rough as hell ( something to do with the monsoon we were told), we were right at the back and had a miserable time. My wife doesn't like flying anyway, and this finished her off. The crew were superb and offered to take her to the flightdeck to speak to the Captain to reassure her, but she couldn't stand as she was shaking so much (the passenger from hell?). The next 11 hours seemed like a lifetime.

I have only just persuaded her to come on short hop over to AMS from LGW and if that goes o.k. we may try go to Bombay later this year.
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RE: Have You Ever Had A Long Flight From Hell?

Tue Jan 13, 2004 11:45 pm

I am sure we can all tell stories of bad experiences. And the crying child always seems to be on a plane somewhere. I hate when parents cant keep some type of control on the little rugrats. But what happens when the parents cant control themselves?  Smile
I was on one of the first flights by myself. It happened to be PEOPLES EXPRESS. There is a scary thought alone by itself. The plane was to go from ST. PETE FL, to Syracuse, NY. I am not sure if we stopped anywhere along the way. Anyway, the plane was 2 hrs late to St Pete, so the whole group of people went to the bar to start drinking early. The plane finally arrived and pulled up to the gate. They shut down one engine, and hooked up the fuel hose. The other engine was still running. They brought out the stairs and started loading the plane. And yes the engine was still running. We pushed back over 3 hrs late, and half the passengers sloshed already. Well guess where that is leading to. Half way thru the flight, (I was towards the front of the plane), There is a load roar from the back of the plane. Seems someone insulted someone else and the only way to settle this was by showing testosterone and chest hairs. The poor little FA was being bounced around like a rag doll. She was trying to stop the fight, but it was to no avail. The fight lasted a good 10 mins and the final outcome was broken noses and glasses. Missing teeth and black eyes were not uncommon in the back of the plane that day.
We landed and the plane came to a screeching halt right in the middle of the runway. The rear stairs on the plane dropped down and about 5 cops came aboard. They took about 8 passengers off, closed the door, and the plane went the rest of the way to the terminal.
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RE: Have You Ever Had A Long Flight From Hell?

Wed Jan 14, 2004 1:53 am

lol actually AMM744 Im a woman, but thats ok  Smile Looking back I guess it IS amusing, ill never forget that flight, and its good for some cocktail stories!
Hang on tightly, Let go lightly
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RE: Have You Ever Had A Long Flight From Hell?

Wed Jan 14, 2004 3:04 am

My apologies Amhilde, in my haste to read and post a reply I forgot to look at your profile.

Either way your account of this flight was hilarious though not for you at the time I suspect.

I've flown this route with my Son when he was 7 months old and again when he was 18months old so I can sympathize with you and any other traveler longing for a peaceful flight.
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RE: Have You Ever Had A Long Flight From Hell?

Wed Jan 14, 2004 4:00 am

My worst flight with LAN. Now I know this was many years ago,so the routes have changed, but the only way of getting from South America to Australia was. Buenos Aires-Santiago-Easter Island-Papeete-Auckland-Sydney. And all on a 767!!
The trip never seemed to end. The service was not that crash hot and a transit time of around 6 hours in Easter Island due to 'technical problems' did not help.
You had to overnight in Papeete, which was not too bad, but I always remember how expensive everything was.
You eventually arrived in SYD, very very very tired and not wanting to get onboard another airplane/bus/car/train!!
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RE: Have You Ever Had A Long Flight From Hell?

Wed Jan 14, 2004 5:23 am

I had my worst flight with LH from JNB to FRA. Squeezed in a middle seat on a 744 without any space to move for 10 hours. The seat itself was very very hard and the headrest forced my head in a very uncomfortable position every time I tried to lean back, so I didn't had any sleep during this night flight at all. The main screen seemed to be miles away, breakfast wasn't eatable and the last half an hour of the flight seemed to be a little eternity.
I really felt sick after this flight and still had to wait for about 1 1/2 hours for my connection to CGN.
This was my first long-haul trip with LH in economy - and definitely the last!
"I love flying. I've been to almost as many places as my luggage." - Bob Hope
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RE: Have You Ever Had A Long Flight From Hell?

Wed Jan 14, 2004 6:05 am

Hi Amhilde,

I don't just want to acknowledge your flight, but also your story telling abilities. It isn't just the experience, but the way you described it, that made that a classic post. One thing that interests me is that there isn't a single bit of that story that I haven't experienced sometime, somewhere, but to get them all on the same flight........!!!

I want to describe a generic type of lfight from hell that will be new to most of you. It is flying on a staff travel ticket from NZ to UK via Asia. (I'm not staff, but a father of staff) I do this quite often.

Up at 4 am NZ time in order to be hanging around for a 06.00 departure to SYD. If unlucky - back to bed. If lucky - 8 hours in Sydney with luggage and with no certainty of a departure at 16.00. Tension builds until mid afternoon. The possibilites range from not getting on at all to a business class sleeper seat.

If lucky there is a mad dash to get through security and to the distant gate. What you get most of the time is something like 55E to SIN only, then try again.

At SIN your chances of getting back on the same plane are thin, so you rush again, claim luggage, through immigration, then mad dash up a level to departures, and try again - all at midnight. Try to back up by listing on BA, QF, MS, SN, GR and even Aeroflot (in order of departure), which means a visit to each desk.

If very lucky, back on the BA or QF you got off. Worst case is to trudge around 6 different departures and STILL have to find a hotel in SIN and wait a day....two days...three days.

Whenever - it is still usually 55E again. The 13 hour flight SIN-LHR is bad enough when business travelling on a business budget, but in 55E at your 10th attempt to get a seat after an unwanted day or two in Singapore humidity, there is a mixture of relief and total exhaustion.

In the times I have done this the best case was being given a through business class seat from SYD-LHR, and the worst was 2 days to get out of NZ, 2 to get out of SYD, and 3 to get out of SIN with a routing that was SIN-DEL-ATH-LHR

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RE: Have You Ever Had A Long Flight From Hell?

Wed Jan 14, 2004 6:41 am

GOT-LPA on a Britannia B757, it was really cramped and I had a couple in front of me that had a cold or something, they sneezed and coughed constantly for over 4h. But the worst thing though, was that I sat on the row that don't have any windows..
It's Scandinavian
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RE: Have You Ever Had A Long Flight From Hell?

Wed Jan 14, 2004 8:18 am

Wow Rongotai, that sounds exhausting! The unknowness especially... was it worth not buying a ticket? Though given the cost of flying NZ-UK somewhere along the line it must have been! ( thanks for your comment by the way!)

Actually, your story reminds me of this one reality show we have up here in the US ( and I believe its quite popular in Asia as well- mainly, well, Singapore haha- you may get it on a satellite station or something) called The Amazing Race. Basically 12 teams of 2 people (all having a previous relationship- so we get moms/daughters, fathers/sons, newlyweds, longtime marrieds, gay men/women, best friends, etc) on a race around the world (in 30 days). They have to complete different tasks along the way and the last team to check in at the end of a leg (read:episode) is eliminated. They only know where they are going after a 12 hour rest stop ( yup, thats it!) when they open the envelope at their appointed departure time. Host is actually a Kiwi- Phil Keoghan or something like that. Anyway, its the only reality show I watch because i LOVE the flying/airport segments and how clueless some of the people are on routings. Everytime teams hit an airport Im hollering at the tv about what airline/routing would be best and what type of aircraft they are on etc. I just wanted to mention this because YOUR flight sounded about like what some of the teams have to go through on occasion! (at least you havent had to do a 28 hour second class train ride through Thailand- or maybe you have?  Smile some of the women on that episode looked like they were ready to kill their partners!)

BTW show has really good shots of planes taking off and landing  Smile
Hang on tightly, Let go lightly

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