Reporting to Sulawesi: Depart to Indonesia

arts and culture

Thursday, January 10th, 2019.

It was nine thirty at the Lincoln Airport (LNK). My plane would depart at 11.05 AM. It was still one and a half hour to go. But, I felt like wanna come early today to avoid the long lines and hustle bustle that I went through yesterday due to sudden cancellation from the United. Not only I had flight cancellation but one hour before my scheduled flight, the staff also asked me to get a short pass or visa on arrival to Japan (I’m gonna tell more about this below).

Everything was a mess and hectic yesterday from the very beginning.

When I came one and a half hour before my scheduled flight at 11.30 AM, a super slow United staff served me and insisted that I should have a Japanese visa on arrival and short pass. I was surprised by that because based on my experience, I never had to get a short pass or visa on arrival unless I needed to get out of that airport.

I told her that I would not need any short pass nor visa on arrival since I did not change airport (from Haneda to Narita or vice versa) nor planned to go out of the airport.

But she kept on saying,” I could not give you all the boarding tickets unless you have that short pass. ” She called her supervisor and insisted I should have that short pass first and take care by my own. Then, she gave me a number to call (which was wrong at first because I got connected to an advertisement agency offering promos etc). It’s supposed to be ANA’s office’s phone. After I asked her again the correct phone number, she explained that she wrote one of the number (it supposed to be 3 not 8) wrong. So, I called the ANA’s office while anxiously looking at the time.

Am I gonna miss my flight?

Finally, someone picked up my phone. I heard an ANA staff who was friendly, polite and quick to provide solution on the line. She asked my nationality and I told her my nationality and my booking code.

Upon hearing that, she said that I did not need either visa on arrival nor short pass as long as I did not GET OUT of the airport in Japan. This was the Japanese immigration’s policy, she said. Just like what I had said to that United staff.

I told the United staff but she kept on insisting I needed one. I ran out of patience and started to get really pissed off. And so I handed my phone to her and asked her to talk directly to the ANA representative who knew better her country than this person. She talked and finally she granted to give me my boarding pass (only one and not three. So I should take all of my checked bags at Chicago and start the process from beginning again at the O’ Hare. Gosh! I could debate with her about this but it’s ten minutes before my plane departed so I decided to run to the screening point).

Then, I walked through the security screening checkpoint. I met with several officers- all of them were nice and being respectful. One of them was an Indian American and he instructed to take out all of my electronics tools, including my camera, lens, laptop, recorder, Ipad, DJI osmo plus, as well as all liquid bottles in a polite and empathetic manner. I followed all of the instructions from each officer. The security screening process run smoothly and I put all my stuffs to each bag calmly.

But then, something happened again with the United. My flight got cancelled and I was rebooked into a 4 o’clock flight without them handling my other flights to the end destination, which is Jakarta (CGK). It means that I will loose my other flights by the time I arrive at Chicago O’ Hare international airport (ORD). So stupid. And so, I went to the United counter to solve this and met the same woman again who was now byherself to serve all the impatient and upset customers wanting to change the flight.

I knew right away that it would gonna take foreeever, and my guess was right. She served me for an hour only to rebook my flight! At first she suggested to catch up a flight to Omaha by asking, ” is there by any chance you can go to Omaha and catch this flight?” What? Omg. I was already tired at that time and I needed to run catching a flight in another city? So, I firmly said no. I wanted to get a flight from Lincoln, I told her.

She seemed overwhelmed with finding the new flight for me and called someone. But then I heard she said to that person,”I am just gonna trying to help her (it’s me, she meant).” Wait. What? Help me? It’s her job to manage my flight after a cancellation. She’s not helping me but she’s working.

United even did not provide any compensation the passengers. According to the global aviation rule, airplane company should provide a compensation to passengers after a cancellation, minimum food or accommodation. What a very disappointing airplane service especially for someone who book an international flight. I felt like I wanted to explode but then I took a deep breath and decided just to walk away to clear up my emotion. At the end, I told her to find me a flight for the next day (which was today) with the same number of transits and minimum layover hours (all the layover should be minimum 3 hours because I had a bag full of reporting tools and I had to take out all of the tools one by one through the screening point – only in the states. Furthermore, I want to take my checked bags at Jakarta) because my mood was completely ruined.

After all that messed up incident, I decided to have lunch at downtown Lincoln with a friend. We ate sushi, miso soup and cakes. My friend drove me home after chatting and I decided just to relax all day long in my room, lay down in bed, watch movies and chillin.

At night, I called my Mom and asked her to help me rescheduling the flight from Jakarta to Palu by calling the Garuda Indonesia’s office (since its an Indonesian airplane and I could not reschedule it via online). It just took less than ten minutes to solve this and my flight was rescheduled into the next day. I felt ready to nail the reportage and do the interviews needed for my professional project.

This morning I woke up with a sense of recharged feeling. It came to a realization that the woman served me yesterday had not had her salary because of the current political tension between Trump and the Democratic Party on budget had caused approximately 800,000 U.S government employees to work without payment on January. She probably had a bad day.

I came to the airport two hours before my schedule and was being served with a new staff, a young blonde woman who was really quick in serving and she helped me also to carry one of my checked luggages to the baggage point. I said thank you to her. I went through the security checking point, was screened properly, and sat in the waiting area before boarding.

Outside, it was very sunny. One private small airplane was landing on the vacant area next to the commercial airport. I put my reporting backpack on the floor in front of me.

On the way to the Chicago O’ Hare International Airport.

I feel way better than yesterday. When I got into the plane, I was sitting next to a gentleman, an old man wearing grey blazer, shirt and red tie and who looked like a Godfather (very kind, though). We talked about Lincoln and weather. He helped me to call the stewardess when I wanted to ask a cup of water and waited to let me get out of my seat and walked behind me when we were walking out the plane. On the next flight to Japan Haneda airport, I sat next to an American who was so clumsy and kept on nudging his stuffs from water plastic bottle, blanket, pillow, and cell phones. He did not eat at all during the trip but I joked with him when we were served food and beverage and I ordered Sake. The Japanese stewardess looked very amused I asked about Sake and she took the Sake bottle and asked me to read all the information in the bottle, especially the title and the type of sake. I took a sip and liked it so much that I told her, “this is a very tasty one.” And the guy sitting next to me asked,”is it really good?”

I nodded and told him, “this one is really good. You should better try it,” And he shook his hand,”haha, no thanks. No alcohol for this time.” I wanted to ask him why he did not eat at all during the 13 hours flight, but held my self back. I did not want to be considered as rude to ask such a personal question even though it really made me curious. At the end of the flight, he said sorry to me if he had nudged me during his sleep. I smiled and said, “it’s okay. Don’t think about it.”

What a lovely flight on Thursday. I hope this good energy will be continuing until the reportage’s days in Palu. Crossing fingers!

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