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Monday, February 25, 2008

What to Do When Your Flight is Cancelled

Watching or listening to news on flight cancellation due to severe weather condition is something many people are used to, but experiencing it and knowing what to do to save your time and do something else that is more useful than waiting and keep waiting are different matters. On Wednesday the 20th of February this week, I was given "privilege" to know how it feels and what it looks like when the authority of London Heathrow airport and British Airways decided to cancel my flight. It was a big mess!

There were about 10 flights canceled on the day, including mine, which was supposed to depart for Madrid at 7.40 in the evening. I expected several hours of delay of course, as I could see the thick fog on Wednesday morning covering the Midland. But to have my flight canceled was a major surprise to me.

At around 5.30 PM the flight departure screen displayed the departure time for my flight as 21.40. Then at around 6.00 PM, it displayed my flight had been canceled. The big mess started immediately. We scrambled to the Customer Service office of BA and requested information about what to do. At the time, we're already within international zone.

The Customer Service lady (a Chinese look-a-like lady with Singaporean/Malaysian accent) told us to walk to the walk back to arrival hall, go through the immigration check point, waited for our luggages, pick them up, go to the ticket office and rebook our flights. It sounds reasonable and easy to do. I would find out later how wrong I had been.

The walking path to the arrival hall itself was not clear, no clear sign, me and my friend were lost basically. Then we found the correct way and spent about 30 minutes queuing in front of the immigration check point. Afterward we spent nearly 2 hours waiting for our luggages, kept looking for our ones and nothing came out. We finally went to the Customer Service in the baggage hall, all they told us was:

"Go rebook your flight and show the receipt of your luggages when you check in to your next flight, tell them to record exactly the same receipt number. The airline staffs will look after your luggages and help you."

If I had known that all we need to do was to rebook our flight and left the luggages to the airline staff, I would have done it quickly and found a hotel to take a rest.

So, we finally re-booked our flight and left our luggages in the airport. Then we found a hotel later and spent the night without changing our clothes. The next morning (Thursday) we checked in to our flight and arrived at Madrid in the afternoon. Having arrived in Madrid, we went to the Customer Service of Iberia (a member of BA OneWorld network) and made a report that our luggages were "lost". They received our report and then promised to send them back to Madrid in 2 days. On Saturday, I got my luggage back.

The lesson to learn is: don't spend your time waiting for luggage when your flight is canceled but you still need to travel using the same airline. Rebook your flight immediately and tell the airline staff to record your luggage number when you check in and make a report that your luggage is lost when you arrive at your destination. Easy.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Crash, Boom, Bang!

Out of the FA Cup this year!!! Terrible feeling now, oh dear, oh dear!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Ireland's Proposal for Switch to Right-Hand Driving

The Irish are very nice people, they want to switch to right-hand driving because of people who visit them are used to right-hand driving. The Irish do not want the visitors to be involved in accidents because the visitors cannot control their cars well enough to drive in Ireland. This is amazing! This is an example of immigrants and tourists actually change the rule applied in a country. I bet we will not find it anywhere else in Europe!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Diga me

As foreigner in a new country, I am trying to learn about local culture and way of life, - (I beg your pardon, I am not talking about the "swing" culture of some people in Madrid, definitely not about the clubs where you can have group sex for only 25 Euros as the entry fees) - carefully listening to new sound, capturing new language and trying to understand when to use the terms and in what context they can be used.

One word I often come across is "diga me", which means "talk to me" or "tell me". This word is usually used as an answer to someone who calls us and we want to listen to what the person wants to say. So instead of asking "what's up?" or just "yes" we ask the person to tell us what the his/her intention is.

Diga me is also often used when people answer a phone call, usually with "yes" in front of it. So the complete answer is: "Si, diga me!" or "Yes, tell me!". The locals like to speak at 200 miles/hour, so most of the time we will hear "di" and "me" only, while the "ga" is left out. So, sometime it sounds like "di me"

Now then, because saying "diga me" is a habit of the locals here in my office, most of the time people who answer me (when I call their names), will just say: "Tell me!"......in English, not Spanish. It is a Spanish habit with English translation, as the language of communication between us. At first it sounds odd to me, because I am not used to someone answering me with "Tell me!". But after more and more people say the same thing and once I understand the Spanish translation of "Tell me" and hear the locals keep saying it, I am used to it now.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Live for Nothing, Die for Something

"Live for nothing, die for something"

John Rambo came out of his retirement to save a group of Christian missionaries and take them out of Myanmar, fighting the troops of the military dictator of the country along the way. It is a scary scenario for the military junta, the ruler of Myanmar and now they are trying to stop distribution of the pirated DVDs of this latest Rambo movie in the country. The military rulers fear of the movie could spur their opponents on to fight them.

While it is unlikely that a movie can influence Myanmar people to fight their military rulers (because ordinary people don't have sophisticated weapons), perhaps this movie can make them dream of the unthinkable, that one day there will be troops sent by some countries to "liberate" them. It remains to be seen if John Rambo indeed becomes an inspiration for the people of Myanmar. Only time can tell and history will record it.