Sunday, March 04, 2007

Arrival at the Airport

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 airport
11:15 Airport information: the flight may arrive at 2:30 (AM) after midnight
12:45 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 17:00
12:55 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 yet
15:00 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 check
15:25 My fiancée asked airport information: the flight will arrive at 23:30
17:12 Mom calls from Damascus airport. No one is there to meet her. She got a taxi and came home
17:40 Mom is home
17:50 Airport information: the flight will arrive at 20:00
18:52 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.


At Mon Mar 05, 02:44:00 AM GMT+2, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bassam, your chronicle of incidents and your simple description is pretty good, very crisp and up to the point. You made me feel a little bit shy of how I react to things functioning in Syria. I admire your patient and admire that you did not loose your temper and after all you tried to help the same guy who you suppose asking his help. Those journalists you mentioned should take a lesson from you. Good luck

At Tue Mar 06, 03:19:00 AM GMT+2, Blogger GraY FoX said...

damn damn damn
believe it or not buddy
this happened with me before
looks like it's not something that happens rarely :P

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At Wed Mar 07, 05:46:00 AM GMT+2, Blogger adiamondinsunlight said...

Oh, Bassam -

What an exercise in frustration that must have been. The worst part is that you and your family did everything _right_ and it still did no good.

I hope Thawra does cover the story, and I hope that someone with enough influence to demand the allocation of the 20K reads it.

Meanwhile part of me cannot believe that they still communicate vis telegram ...

At Wed Mar 07, 06:43:00 AM GMT+2, Blogger maher saloum said...

It is amazing how creative they are by giving these passive aggressive excuses..that irritates the pants out of me....
how can that be..? What if there is an emergency? Are they telling us that there is no way to communicate with the office in London or whatever ? and Telegram?watever happened to phone? internet? does it ring the bell? I mean hello people...

At Mon Mar 12, 02:03:00 PM GMT+2, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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