Thirty minutes on, the flight had progressed along quite nicely when a cackle of electrical hisses came on the intercom. "Ladies and gentlemen, we will be returning to the airport," the co-pilot explained. "It seems we have a..." the faint voice over the intercom hesitated momentarily, "... slight equipment failure." A cacophony of chitter-chatter filled the cabin as confused passengers talked amongst each other trying to make sense of the co-pilot's message.
No sooner had the co-pilot's message sunk in when the plane suddenly convulsed violently, rocking from side to side and trembling under the pressure of the atmosphere! The screams and shouts of passengers sent a chill down the man's spine as he hugged his toddler close to him. Perhaps this would be the last time he ever held his son again.
That would have been quite a tale if it hadn't happened to us. But it did. "Now everybody can be delayed," said Bud, quite prophetically.
By the time the plane turned back to KLIA, it was already 8:00pm. The turbulent wasn't really that bad, but because it came so close after the co-pilot's announcement, people freaked out. Fortunately for Jesse, he slept right through it all.
Back at KLIA, the ground crew announced that there would be a plane arriving from Jakarta and we would be able to take that one instead, since they could not repair the "hydraulic leakage". So, our flight was reschedule to 10:30pm. Fine. Mae, Jesse, Roma and my brothers Jeff and Steve decided to just have dinner at the airport and kill time.
By 10:30pm the plane from Jakarta did indeed arrive. All the passengers lunged towards the front section of the gate hoping to get in. However, little did we know another surprise awaited on the plane. So there we were, all queued-up when suddenly a couple of ground crew pushed a stretcher through the crowd. Apparently someone on that Jakarta flight had had a heart attack. I knew then we wouldn't be leaving anytime soon. There'd be protocol to follow, and endless reports and investigations. But we weren't given any such information.
By midnight, the passengers had turned into an angry mob ready to hang somebody. No one was giving us any explainations. Ground Crew didn't know what was happening. No Senior Management came down to pacify the crowd. Instead, they left us with a tactless Ground Crew member to address this increasingly agitated crowd. "You can cancellation your flight, or wait until 1:30am!" the young fellow said in the most insolent tone he could muster, and in horrifyingly broken English. Some passengers demanded refunds. "We don't refund anything," the boy yelled in his microphone. Asshole.
So yeah, we finally flew off at 1:30am. We got there and back safely. And Jesse was a trouper through it all. Still, it was a pretty harrowing experience, made worse only by AirAsia's lack of customer service. If you're gonna delay someone's flight for 7 hours, the least you could possibly do is to send someone from management to explain the situation. And how about making sure the plane is in good order before taking off, dammit? But I suppose perhaps AirAsia is merely sending out a message that customers shouldn't expect too much when they pay so little. For an airline that is notorious for delays, they sure don't look like they're about to change anything.
In any case, I doubt if I'll ever stick around to find out. I may not be so lucky next time.