Going home today. Our flight would be at 6:35pm so we had some time to pack, unpack and repack until the check-out time at noon.
We started with one bag each. We ended with an additional bag each and one big box for Fara!
The two bellboys had been really helpful, especially during those days when we got back from shopping with a taxi-load of goods to carry upstairs.
Najd Hotel Apartments, where we stayed for the week.
The street in front of the apartment.
The friendly counter staffs.
That way to the airport!
It was still early, so we sat at the food court having brunch and while watching airport activities through the glass walls.
Then it was time to check-in. Pjot and Fara went to the normal check-in counter while I had to go MH airport manager’s desk for staff check-in. While the airport manager was verifying my identity, Fara suddenly came to me looking panicky. Her luggage was overweighed by 9kgs! She had to pay AED 350 (RM 315) if she wanted to bring everything home. She was already sad thinking of the idea of throwing away the stuffs she painfully shopped, carried and packed. The airport manager asked me if Fara was travelling with me, I said yes. He told the check-in staff to let Fara’s worldly goods go under my staff baggage allowance. Thank goodness! “Next time weigh your luggage before you shop,” we warned her, as I might not always be there to rescue her.
The airport manager was a Malaysian so it was fun chatting with him while he worked on my check-in details. Then came the news, the flight was full! For real! He asked me if I had any friend in Dubai, I said no, so please let me board. He told me to wait till the crews check-in so he could ask the captain if he could give me a jump seat.
What’s a jump seat? A jump seat is an unnumbered seat given to airline staffs wishing to get onboard even when the flight is full to the brink. It can either be those seats facing the toilet that cabin crews use during take-off and landing, or the nicer ones are – get this – in the cockpit with the pilot! Getting on a jump seat is pretty common for airline staff travelling on domestic flight, especially during peak period like school holidays or festivities. But jump sit on long haul flight? I haven’t heard of anyone doing that, at least not amongst the people that I know.
The taught of sitting in the cockpit (or even in front of the toilet with the cabin crews) was exciting, but whether or not I could get the seat was totally in God’s hands and the captain’s mercy. So I waited patiently at one corner while the airport manager did his job discussing flight details with the captain and his co-pilot, and hopefully got the approval to put me on jump seat. I wanted so badly to approach the captain and beg him, but it felt a little inappropriate as they were talking about work, so I decided to just wait and see. Finally the guys in flying suits left the desk and the airport manager called my name. The captain had signed-off my jump seat! Alhamdulillah! Yeay!
So I got my unnumbered boarding pass and checked-in my luggage. “Wait for me at the gate,” said the airport manager. You bet I would, I had no idea how to enter the cockpit! Pjot, Fara and I slowly made our way to the gate, knowing that I couldn’t board unless everyone else had boarded. When we reached the gate we saw the airport manager there, smiling at me. He told me to wait a little longer, so we headed to Starbucks right in front of the gate for some coffee.
We sat and watched people passing by. There was a big group of Malay guys at the departure hall, which was quite strange as I didn’t know that Malay guys like to travel together in a big “rombongan” to a place like Dubai. All of them had crew cut hairstyle and they walked in perfect posture like they were in a march. Then it hit me, they were soldiers! Specifically, Malaysian soldiers serving as United Nations peacekeepers at war zones in Lebanon. They must be on transit from Beirut, as the flight we were about to board flew from there to Dubai then to Kuala Lumpur. We were going to share a flight with soldiers coming home, no wonder it was full.
After everyone else had boarded (except for the soldiers, I wonder why they boarded last when their seats were at the aircraft’s tail), I finally approached the airport manager to confirm my physical seat. He gave me seat number - 45K - apparently there was one last passenger seat at the very back, behind all the soldiers. Did any of them forget to board hence there was one seat left? I had no idea. There goes my chance to sit in the cockpit ;-) Anyway, I was actually relieved to get a passenger seat. As much as I was thankful for the captain’s help, I didn’t want to feel obligated to stay awake and chitchat with him along the journey. I might end up talking nonsense while trying to keep my eyes open!
My boarding pass finally had a seat number!
I said thank you to the airport manager and approached the aircraft door. He had only one message before I left, “Don’t forget to say thank you to the captain. If it wasn’t because of him you wouldn’t be able to board.” He gave me the captain’s name. I made a mental note to thank the captain if I see him when we land. If not, I would send him an e-mail when I get back to work on Monday.
I entered the aircraft and walked all the way to the back. A steward at the tail end announced my arrival, “Satu-satunya bunga di kalangan kumbang kat area ni!” Cheh! Then suddenly, at the very last row where I was supposed to sit, I saw someone wearing a scarf! “Haa, ada kawan!” I exclaimed in delight. I was extremely happy to see her (despite of not having any idea who she was) and I bet she felt the same way too :-D
We quickly acquainted and I found out that she was also on jump seat! I guess we were fated to get that two last passenger seats so we could accompany each other on our journey home.
A view from my tail end seat. See those heads with crew cut hair filling up several rows? Those were the soldiers.
Beautiful flock of clouds far away in the horizon.
We touched down at KLIA around 6am and went to collect our bags. The soldiers had a lot of luggage (they were allowed 30kgs as opposed to 20kgs for normal passengers) so we had to wait for a while before the three of us got our bags. I noticed that they had red bags printed with words like MALCON East, UNIFIL, Kaokaba, Lebanon and United Nations logo. Fara who was oblivious to it all commented loudly, “So many of the same red bags! Must be people coming home from umrah!” The soldiers standing near us smirked and I started laughing so hard hahaha! I told Fara and Pjot the truth about the red bags and that the soldiers get 30kgs baggage allowance for being our nation’s heroes. Both Pjot and I agreed that Fara had to start befriending them so she no longer has to worry about excess baggage if she goes to Dubai again!
We collected our bags, headed to the money changer to sell back our leftover AED and had breakfast while waiting for Fara’s flight home to Kuantan at 9am. We had to make some adjustment to her luggage as I wouldn’t be able to use my baggage allowance for a flight that I’m not boarding. Then we sent Fara off and Pjot and I took the ERL home.
So that’s the end of my Dubai getaway with my two gorgeous friends that I’ve known since high school. I had so much fun travelling with them! To Fara and Pjot (I know you girls read my blog but shy to comment), let’s do this again!
Till my next trip!