Going nowhere - lack of planes back to Kathmandu


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Asia » Nepal » Lukla
November 21st 2018
Published: February 19th 2019
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Today we are trying to get back to Kathmandu. We woke up to the sound of airplanes and beautiful sunny skies and so were optimistic about our chances.
Arriving at the airport it was heaving - people and bags everywhere like some sort of refugee camp. This didn’t look so good.
Queuing up at the unmanned check in counters to find out what was happening around 3 planes took off in short succession. That seemed a good sign. Finally getting to the front of the queue (at around 10am) we were told they were checking in the 6am flights. I have no idea what the other flights we saw leaving were then! There are people who have been waiting for 3 days. Let’s hope the weather stays clear and the delayed flight still leaves....



After finally checking in early afternoon we were sitting in the waiting area only to be told that our plane had been cancelled. We had to go down onto the runway, pick up our baggage, and hot foot it into town to the "Yeti airlines" office in order to re-book a flight for the next day. This meant we were at the bottom of the list and after being strongly encouraged to book a flight elsewhere were finally given a ticket for the 11am flight the next day. This was booked with the ominous comment of "its unlikely to go anyway".

Whilst Stephen tried to sort out tickets I lugged our bags back to the Luckla Lodge and was delighted to find they had one room left.



The next day we arrived at the airport nice and early as told and joined the queue again. Frustratingly someone we had met the day before managed to get a flight even though they hadnt booked a ticket as they had gone to the Yeti office first thing, rather than at 3pm when they finally decided to cancel our flight.

We kept being told to come back later. They also kept telling people there were no flights to Kathmandu and encouraging us to get on a flight elsewhere which was then a 5 hour drive to Kathmandu (they wouldnt arrange the bus and didnt know how much it would cost).

Finally we got to check in. Once again sitting in the waiting area I started chatting to a group of people who turned out to be medics from the US - including a paediatric intensivist & paediatric palliative care specialist. Once again the flight was cancelled.

This time as Stephen was good and went to the Yeti Office I picked the bags up from the runway and headed into the airport office. After a little bit of arguing I burst out crying - we were nearly out of cash and I just wanted clean clothes and a shower. This seemed to help - the staff immediately found us another ticket and promised we would fly out the next day.

After checking back into the Luckla Lodge we went into town for some cake to cheer me up and then we splashed out on a hot shower. It was amazing. Unfortunately I didnt have any clean clothes to put on but it was wonderful not needing to cover my hair in a hat the whole time.

We did go and enquire about the cost of a helicopter but the prices had doubled since we had left Kathmandu as no one would want to pay the return fare this late in the season. This made it completely unaffordable for us
The cockpit The cockpit The cockpit

Alarmingly a number of the dials were in the red and a large red button was attached by a piece of wire....
unfortunately.



On the morning of the 23rd we once again headed off to the airport. We had heard planes and helicopters arriving since early on so were hopeful we may get out. Queuing once more we were told that our plane wasnt for hours and we were unlikely to get one. By this time I had worked out who the manager was and so I went into the office to annoy him instead. We were promised a flight. Told to go away for at least 2 hours we headed off for a morning snack in the adjacent bakery. Coming back into the airport after just 1 hour we were alarmed to see it almost completely empty. Fortunately after a short while the manager got us and checked us into the next flight.

Distrustful that being checked in meant anything given the previous 2 days we wondered off to get some lunch and then settled down with a cup of tea and a book. We chuckled at the other people on our flight getting all excited as other planes came into land as we were confident we were the last plane of the people already waiting down by the gates. Just as we were giving up hope as it was getting quite late another plane landed and we were the last few people left. Finally we were being bordered and were so relieved to be taking off.

On arrival in Kathmandu, on the 23rd November, we headed into Thamel to an internet cafe and managed to find a hotel with a room free. We picked up our bags and finally had clean clothes, a hot shower, good food for dinner and a lovely comfy bed with clean sheets.

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