Thursday, January 15, 2015

Top Six Funniest Douala Airport Moments

 6) This one was purely the hand work of mischievous MAS colleague Oliver. Now there are some passengers who barely know what flight they’re boarding, generally old people. And even some young people oh. You ask a passenger, “sir, which flight?” He or she looks stunned. He/she stares at the passport first, “Eh, the 2.00 PM flight.” “Is that the name of a flight?” he/she rechecks again, this time at his flight ticket, “Eh, em, Ethiooo-pian airlines.” “Okay, this way.” 

Now bring mischievous Oliver into flight name ignorance and you’ll get a masterpiece of flight name confusion. Do you want to know what I mean? Right. Oliver’s recipe of sending a passenger into flight name confusion is simple. He combines two flights, simple, period. Kenya Airways and Air France. Here comes the passenger towards Oliver who asks, “Sir, which flight?” Passenger looks at passport first, then says “errrrrrr” before he goes to the flight ticket to check. Oliver quickly understands he’s one of the ones mentioned above and asks the passenger,

“Sir, Kenya Air France?” passenger stops, looks at him dumbfounded and stammers in confusion. “Yes. No. Yes. No. wait, which flight did you say?”
“Are you flying on Kenya Air France?”
“No. Yes wait….” his face showing utmost confusion, he scrutinizes his flight ticket again while Oliver screams,
“Young man, are you flying on Kenya Air France?” colleagues watching Oliver almost collapse in laughter.
“I am flying on a Kenya flight but not passing through Air France, sir.”
“Okay, this way,” Oliver ushers him towards the Kenya Airways queue and makes a face at laughing colleagues.

5) This one happened in 2012 when the defunct Air Nigeria used to land here. The airline was facing serious managerial crisis in those its last days. As a result, it broke all the rules of aviation and operated like a bus agency. I swear even Garanti Bus Express operated better than them. So it is no surprise that they used to have constant wild flight delays of seven, eight and even nine hours (without the Air Nigeria staff informing passengers oh!) And it was always we, the Swissport crew taking all the insults and heat. We were seldom informed when the plane would land either. So when passengers asked us about arrival time, we sometimes disappeared. (The Air Nigeria staff knew how to disappear very well. They checked in passengers and vamoosed from the airport like ghosts, abandoning the angry passengers). On one of such long delayed flights, passengers at the boarding gate had tormented my colleague Valery and I at midnight to the point of total exhaustion. When Valery finally caught sight of the approaching plane a few hours later, he pulled out his walky-talky and announced with his hoarse voice,
“Bad luck Air Nigeria on the ground. Bad luck Air Nigeria on the ground.” I paused, looked at my colleague Shirley and we unanimously burst into laughter forgetting all the hunger and exhaustion.

4) The next one was narrated to me by my colleague Rosaline. She was at the boarding gate one day searching carry-on luggage when a female passenger walked towards her with her carry-on. Rosaline wore plastic gloves which she used to search the carry-on luggage. When the passenger saw her, she guessed Rosaline was probably a nurse or a doctor. So the passenger placed her bag on the ground and lay flat on the search table, spreading out her legs and arms for Doctor Rosaline to operate her belly before she could board the plane. Rosa suppressed a laugh and told her to get up and place her bag on the table so that she could search it instead.

3) I was at the baggage sorting area during an Arik air flight registering all the checked-in bags. As the bags rolled down the belt, I noticed that there was a lot of noise from one of them. When I put my right ear next to the bag, I heard some wonderful Ivorian Couper decaler music. Uh? As the bag passed through the X-ray machine, the bag handler who carried it to the Arik air trolley started dancing to the bag’s music. I grinned and pulled out my radio.

“Boarding gate for Container!”
“Go ahead for gate”
“Sequence 22 has to come down to the baggage sorting area.”
“Why? Has it been withheld by the Customs?”
“Not the Customs. His bag is singing.”
“What? What do you mean by ‘his bag is singing’.”
“Sequence 22 has to come down and turn off the music playing from his bag. If not this place would turn into a nightclub.”
“Copied, Container.”

When the gentleman descended and opened the bag, we discovered that he had left his radio set on. So the device had entertained us with a good dose of DJ Arafat. Mpangor!
*On a certain Swiss Air flight in 2011, my colleagues had discovered a bag which was vibrating. Scared that it may be an explosive they almost ran away. When they called down the passenger, they discovered that, he had left on his battery powered shaving machine after usage, put it into his bag and drove to the airport. As a result, his bag kept fidgeting and moaning, vrrrr, vrrrri, vrii, vrrrr, vrrrrrm.

2) Some months ago, I met a white American man at the arrival hall whose shirt was soaked to the point that it looked like someone had pelted a pail of water on him, sweat glands at the maximum with expulsion, his right arm clinging to a handkerchief wiping furiously at his forehead. When our eyes met, he went, “you know I’m from Minnesota where it’s minus forty degrees.” I replied, “Welcome to Douala where it’s plus thirty degrees, The oppressive heat at this airport bites at the human skin like it has teeth.” (No air conditioning then.) The man shook his head in disappointment.

1) My top funny moment happened on Kenya Airways. A male passenger had arrived very late at the check in counter when check in had ended and all the check-in agents had left. So he asked around what he had to do to get on that flight because “it is so important, I have to travel today oh my God. I cannot miss this flight…” bla bla bla (As if you didn’t know all that when you arrived late!) He was directed to the Kenya Airways office anyway. But there was nothing the KQ staff could do because all the check in agents had left and the check-in system had already shut down. The man pleaded but Therese was steadfast,

“Sir, it is not possible for you to fly today. However, there is another flight tomorrow. You will pay the penalty for your “no show” and we will….” The man cut the KQ staff, Therese short and chipped in intelligently,
“But I showed up! I showed up at your office ten minutes ago. I showed up. How can you say I am “no show” and I did not show up, uh?” Therese smiled.
“Sir, if you don’t check in during the normal check in time and check-in ends, you are considered a “no show passenger” and…”
“I said I showed up eh! Did I not show up at your office? (passenger points at my colleague Peter) Young man have I not shown up at the Kenya office? Uh?”
“You were supposed to show up at the counter and on time, not at our office when the counter is closed and boarding is almost through at the gate. I’m sorry, you will only fly…”
“I showed up ooooh, madame, I showed up. Please board me. I showed up!”