Mother is coming today from London where she has spent a month at my newlywed brother’s. I got a call yesterday from them saying that the flight going from Damascus will be late, and subsequently the departing flight from London, and they wanted to know what time should she be at the airport.
It is a weekend in UK so the Syrian Airline office is closed. Thankfully they had a back up emergency phone number that no one ever answers. Thus, forget London. No one here was able to figure out what is going to happen either and they all referred me to London!!
Today, here is what happened:10:15
Airport information: the flight is scheduled to arrive 15:30 (regular arrival time)10:30
Brother called: Mom has checked in, she’s in the airport11:15
Airport information: the flight may arrive at 2:30 (AM) after midnight12:45
Checking Heathrow airport website: plane is being taxied (meaning on the runway)12:50
A friend of Dad’s calls: They sent a telegram from Madrid!!! The flight will arrive at 17:0012:55
Checking Heathrow airport website: plane is airborne (meaning it’s in the air)13:05
Dad calling airport information: when is the flight arriving?
- At 15:30
- Are you sure we were told it may be later?
- (after a pause) Oh, we don’t know, we haven’t received the telegram yet15:00
Checking Heathrow airport website: flight is not found (never been, never will be for today)!!!15:10
Airport information: the flight may arrive at midnight or 1:00 AM, call after 20:00 to check15:25
My fiancée asked airport information: the flight will arrive at 23:3017:12
Mom calls from Damascus airport. No one is there to meet her. She got a taxi and came home17:40
Mom is home17:50
Airport information: the flight will arrive at 20:0018:52
Airport information (I am speaking now): the flight arrived at 17:00
- (me screaming) what kind of behavior is this, first you say at 23:30 and now you say it arrived. It’s not right, I have people arriving at the airport and nobody there to welcome them!!
- (not knowing how to apologize) we’re really sorry... bla bla bla...
- Who is your boss, who is the superior guy?
- The civil airlines general manager
- How can I get to him?
- I don’t have the number, why?
- I wanna complain to him; don’t you guys receive telegrams for the flights?
- (now explaining their tragedy) we don’t have the machine anymore!!
- So how do you know when the flight is coming?
- We ask the companies, and from what this and that say. We have information as much as any normal citizen.
- When did they take it away?
- Almost a month ago
- Why? Did they wanna use it somewhere else?
- No, the civil airlines طيران مدني is not paying the SETA (I hope this is the right spelling) money, so they stopped the telegram line. It’s only $400 a year (20,000 SP). Please if you are able to convey the message to the manager (I have his name) do, because the machine is all what we have for work.
- I’ll try my best
So if you know me well, the story must have a sequel. I in fact called Al-Thawra newspaper and talked to one of the editors or reporters with the story. How much influence my phone call will have I don’t know, but one has to hope. In the meantime, if any reader (doubtfully) can convince the طيران مدني to give up 20,000 SP for such a simple thing (it’s barely a phone bill) then do.