Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Saudi Air sums up the country (not a compliment, in case you were wondering)

This time last week I was so excited at work because we were about to go to Dubai! After planning a party then being told to cancel it, a few of my kids turned up anyway so we had an impromptu party complete with pin the tail on the donkey and a cake with my face on it! In a place where people are obsessed with technology and often shove their kids in front of an Ipad, it was so sweet/ sad to see how much the boys loved playing the old school party game. They really appreciate attention and a bit of simple fun.


We got to the airport late and were covered in sweat by the time we got there because the mini bus had no air con, so the 40 minute journey in the 40 degree heat was pretty hardcore. 
At the check in desk it was clear there was a problem, and we were told to go and see the manager. This 'manager' was one of the most unhelpful people I've ever met and simply kept telling us we didn't have a ticket number. He wouldn't even make a call for us or make any attempt to sort it out. I freaked out and wanted to punch him, but Lee stayed cool and let me sit down while he tried to deal with it. With less than an hour before the flight we had to go to the other terminal (not close by) to the Gulf Air desk to get our ticket number. At Riyadh airport you have to go through security even to get to the ticket desks, so Lee went in and I waited with our bags. Luckily, after fighting his way to get some help, he managed to get hold of the precious ticket numbers, and now with less than 30 minutes to go, he ran back to the first terminal to check in, with me attempting (badly) to run behind with two bags.
Somehow it all turned out alright and we got on the plane. I just couldn't believe the managers attitude towards us, he made me totally appreciate customer service at home. Even when we had the tickets and clearly not a lot of time, he insisted on giving Lee a lecture about how he was right about the ticket number.

The flight from Riyadh to Bahrain (we had to change to get to Dubai- seriously no flights come to Riyadh, I suppose because no passengers want to come here!) was only 50 minutes, but Saudi Air insist on putting on a full meal service. We were starving so I wasn't complaining, but when the seat belt sign came on for landing and the flight attendants had only just started cleaning the trays, we knew there was trouble. One woman dropped a tray as she tried to clear it away, and rice went everywhere. I've never seen a flight attendant do that before and I realised later that she must've been stressed. As the lights of the city came towards us, they were still frantically cleaning, then they gave up and made a run for the back, to try and secure everything and hopefully sit down. The last attendant - a  tiny Filipino woman- didn't make it before we actually came in to land. We were in the very back seat so we saw her brace herself against the back of the chair opposite and attempt to hold the very heavy wheely container thing to stop it rolling down the aisle. Lee helped her by holding it too. As the plane landed and put on the brakes, the trays began flying out of the holes, down the aisle, flinging rice and other leftovers everywhere. We were in row 48 and I heard a man say later that a tray reached him in row 32. By the time we stopped the flight attendant was crying. We asked her if she was OK, to which she replied, "no" and then said the heartbreaking words, "this is my life."
It's classic Saudi behaviour to expect totally unreasonable things to be done and to force 'lesser' people to do them. They don't care that their staff have to go through hell; they are determined to provide that meal at whatever cost. They are willing to risk their employees lives and also even put the passengers in danger. When we left the plane there were loads of trays on the chairs, which meant people had to hold them on their tables until we landed. Not to mention the fact that there was no time for a seat belt check.
It was all horribly undignified and embarrassing for the staff, and we heard them talking about how they had one hour to clean up and get the plane ready to fly again. We realised that they probably go through that shit at least once a day, every day. And all because the Saudi big men are too stupid to listen.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment!