Met Pjot at KLIA. We had McD for dinner and then went to MH counter to check-in. Pjot managed to check-in immediately as she was a paying passenger. As for myself, being a staff travelling on Zonal Employee Discount (ZED), my seat isn’t confirmed until all paying passengers are checked-in. From my previous experiences travelling on subload basis, getting a seat is not an issue because international flights run on big aircrafts. Therefore there’s always a vacant seat or two, especially during off-peak period. So it was a surprise to me when the check-in staff said, “Sorry, can’t check you in now, the flight is overbooked. Need to ensure all others have checked-in before I can give you a seat.” Never mind still, usually for every flight there’s a handful number of no-show, so that would give me a chance to board. The check-in staff told me to come back again 40 minutes before boarding. We left and walked around the airport to kill time.
Soon the counter was closed to public so it was my time to get checked-in. The moment I approached MH duty manager’s desk, came the horrifying news, “Sorry, the flight is full. All staffs are being offloaded!” What?! I couldn’t believe there were so many people trying to get onboard! The duty manager was even offloading all MH staffs that had already checked-in to make way for paying passengers. What more for me who hadn’t even gotten my boarding pass!
Pjot and I looked at each other. I couldn’t possibly let her go to Seoul alone. We had made great plans for this trip. I wanted to go so badly. I must do something!
Fortunately, I got myself a ZED paper ticket. What does that mean? That means I’m allowed to board any flight that flies from KL to Seoul within 3 months from the ticket’s issuance date. Any flight on any airline, as long as it’s the same route. I don’t usually bother getting a ZED paper ticket, for me a ZED e-ticket is good enough as I always opt to fly on MH anyway (ZED e-ticket is only valid on the issuer’s airline, while ZED paper ticket is valid on any airline). But I didn’t know what hit me, on the day I bought the ticket, the ticket counter staff asked me if I would like a paper ticket just in case I wanted to board other airlines and I said yes. Normally I would say no as I’m confident that there’s always a seat for me on MH flights, so there’s no need for back-up plan. But that time around, I said yes for a paper ticket, thankfully!
Armed with my ZED paper ticket, I left my luggage with Pjot and ran to Korean Air’s (KE) check-in counter. Asked them if they had any flight to Seoul tonight, they said yes. Thank goodness! Their flight was scheduled to leave 5 minutes earlier than MH. Begged the staff to check me in, they said no, they had to put me on standby first. I asked them how many people was on their standby list, they said I was the only one. The staff called her duty manager to get him to release a seat for me. He said no, wait 10 more minutes. I begged the check-in counter girl, she helped to beg her boss, finally he said ok. Ran to Pjot (who was waiting at MH counter) to get my luggage. Though she already got her boarding pass earlier, she didn’t check-in her luggage as we wanted to do that together when I check-in on MH, but obviously that wasn’t going to happen. So I checked-in both our bags with me onto KE.
As I watched the staff tagged our bags, I felt so relieved. I was almost getting on board! Almost! The counter staff then handed me my boarding pass. I couldn’t thank her enough. From that point onwards, KE became my second most favorite airline after MH. I heart KE!
I had less than 30 minutes to get on board. We quickly cleared the immigration checks and looked for our gates. Pjot’s gate was at the main terminal, mine was at the satellite terminal so I needed to take the aerotrain. We quickly discussed on how and where to meet up when we reach Incheon Airport. To make matters more complicated, I don’t have a 3G phone, which means my phone wouldn’t work when I touch down. So we decided that Pjot would wait for me at whichever point she exited the arrival hall and I would go and find her. It would be easier for me finding her as compared to her finding me, as there would be only one MH flight arriving at the same hour while there might be many KE flights returning to their home base. We hugged, wished each other good luck and went our separate ways.
On board the aerotrain, I realized that I forgot to ask Pjot one very important thing: I checked-in her luggage with mine, so I was supposed to collect both bags later, but I totally forgot how her bag looked like! I called her and asked her to explain, but the line was pretty bad, so I told her to text me. “Black bag with a red tag with my name on it,” she said. “Ok,” I said, “See you in Incheon!” She replied, “Jangan tak jumpa sudah!” Hahaha!
I took a deep breath, said shukur to Allah S.W.T. for making it possible for me to go to Seoul tonight and boarded the KE flight. Honestly, I ran out of words to express how thankful I was. I had all odds against me, without His mercy, it wouldn’t be possible for me to get onboard.
I got a seat at the very tail end of the flight (right next to the toilet). From that spot I could actually see that the flight was full to the brim and mine was the last seat of all. One very last seat, just for me. Alhamdulillah, shukur to Allah for saving me the seat!
So the next time you feel a sting of jealousy towards airline staffs for getting to travel at dirt cheap prices, think again. With the exception of on-duty crew, we are the least important people to be given a chance to board. With the reward super-low (even free) tix prices, comes the associated risks - the risk of not getting checked-in, being offloaded, etc.
What a night I had! Safe to say, my adventure began even before my trip started ;-)
Boarding KE. Next stop: Seoul!