Thursday, January 12, 2017

Drama filled journey to New Zealand... (Part 1)

Setting off from Birmingham airport, I checked-in my luggage. I took my normal size Kirpaan and put it in the suitcase in front of the check-in desk. The lady asked me to check-in my luggage in the special luggage area because she didn't want myluggage stopped anywhere because of the Kirpaan. I explained that its common for Sikhs to put their Kirpaan in their luggage and no one says anything. But the lady was insistent that I should check-in my luggage in the special luggage area (which is really for fragile and over sized luggage) because of the Kirpaan. When I went to the special luggage area to check-in, I explained that I had been sent because I have a few Kirpaans in my luggage. The man didn't seem bothered and seemed puzzled why I had come there.

The security staff at Birmingham were very nice, and I got through to the terminal. Sadly the flight got missed due to bad weather conditions in Amsterdam. My flight was to go from Birmingham to Amsterdam (Holland), then Amsterdam to Guangzhou (China), then from China to Auckland (New Zealand). As I my flight got delayed by one and a half hours at Birmingham, I missed my connection flight at Amsterdam, which was supposed to take off at 12.30pm to China.
As I got off the plane at Amsterdam airport there were big queues everywhere. I somehow got in the line for the KLM desk by avoiding the queue. I decided to check my emails whilst in the queue and found that KLM had re-booked my flight. So I called over a member of staff standing nearby and showed my email. She happily got me out of the queue and printed out my boarding pass on the ticket machine. My flight now as going to Shanghai at 7.45pm (which is a delay of 7 hours 15 minutes!). I asked her, "What happens with my luggage?" The lady from KLM said, "Your luggage will automatically go to Auckland." She didn't sound very confident saying this, so I asked her again. She repeated the same thing, and smiled saying, "Don't worry Sir. Your luggage will arrive by itself to the final destination." I thought okay. The lady printed me a voucher of 5 Euros to buy food and refreshments due to the delay. When I got the store in the airport, I realised that one bottle of water is 2.5 Euros. So I bought 2 bottles (as they would also come in handy for the flight because usually they don't give sealed bottled water). I thought, "What about if someone is hungry?" Luckily, I had taken my own food and so sat down in the waiting area.

On the journey from Amsterdam to China I was sitting in between two people who were eating meat balls and drinking alcohol, which had a very overwhelming smell! Arriving in China, we were told to go to the immigration counter. All the passengers on the transfer flight were asked to show their visa. We tried to explain that we don't have a visa because we don't want to stop off in China and we are on a transfer flight instead. The problem was that most of the Chinese staff couldn't speak English. Eventually one woman officer came who could comprehend some basic English. She realised the situation and then got the staff to give us a temporary visa (for staying within the airport!).

When we got through immigration we were told that we have to pick up our luggage. I was surprised but thought O well. Everyone on the flight with me collected their luggage and proceeded on. I was the last man standing at the luggage belt and realised my luggage hadn't arrived (a not so nice feeling!). So I went to the luggage support desk and asked the man for help as my luggage had not arrived. Guess what? The man couldn't speak English! I was trying to use a mix of speaking slowly and hand signals. He realised I couldn't find my luggage but apart from that, nothing else. He said in broken English, "You report in New Zealand... not here." 

Not satisfied with his response. I decided to find the KLM desk in the airport, in hope to get more help. However, the KLM desk was on the other side of arrivals, and meant I would have to leave the internal airport area and walk through customs into the arrival area.

To be continued...

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