Etihad Airlines; World's Leading Airline?? We don't think so!!

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February 3rd 2013
Published: February 5th 2013
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Damn, it turns out that our optimism was woefully misplaced!!! As we neared Indonesia the Captain announced that the plane had a technical problem and we would be diverting to Singapore to have it investigated. So we pretty much made a 90° turn to the left to start heading north to Singapore. We had to dump fuel to lighten the plane for our unscheduled landing. That was sort of interesting seeing thousands of litres of fuel purged from a spout in the wing. What a waste though and does it all vapourise in the upper atmosphere or does it have an environmental impact?

We landed at Changi just before noon, but because our landing was unscheduled we had to remain on board while the ground staff checked the plane. Thank goodness we were allowed to turn electronic equipment on so that we could start sending text messages to sort out arrangements at home and read our books on the iPad and the Kindle.

Initially we were told that it would take about half an hour to assess the problem and let us know what would be happening. About 1.00pm we were told that they hoped to have us back in the air in 45 minutes to an hour. Unfortunately, just before 2.00pm we were told that the engineers were still not happy with the plane and the decision had been made to cancel the remainder of our flight to Melbourne and transfer all passengers to hotels pending alternative arrangements being made.

Back when we boarded last night the flight crew welcomed us aboard the World's Leading Airline - a title that Etihad has held for the last four years. I'm afraid at this moment we were not feeling very well disposed towards Etihad Airlines. At present they are ranked along with United Airlines and Malaysian Airlines as my worst ever airline experiences. The only positive thing I can think of to say is that we quite liked the configuration of the Airbus 340-600 with a two, four, two configuration. No-one has to be more than one seat from an aisle.

As we disembarked we befriended an older Irish lady who was travelling on her own and having trouble sending a text message to her daughter to let her know what was happening. I offered to send a text message on her behalf so that she could relax a bit knowing that her daughter would be aware of the delay. I gave her one of our cards with our phone numbers on it in case she wanted to contact us again if she was having any problems. If the diversion was disconcerting for us I imagined that it was more so for someone travelling alone.

So, after a mid-afternoon bus ride from Changi into the city, we arrived at Traders Hotel. We had a shower and cleaned our teeth ... which always helps to make you feel better regardless of how pear-shaped your day has gone! Lots of text messages have been exchanged to postpone our airport pick-up and sort out arrangements for Gidget and Finbar. It turns out that our house sitters have a couple of days before their next house sit so they are with the puppies again tonight and can manage tomorrow night too ... if it comes to that. In the meantime Kerry is on stand-by waiting to hear what flight she will be meeting at Tullamarine. As we arrived at the hotel Bernice told me that she had noticed our surname is Gaffney. Would you believe that her mother's maiden name was Gaffney? What are the chances?!

When we went downstairs for our complimentary dinner some passengers had already received information about their on bound flights. When we checked at the desk they didn't have our names on any of their lists. So, at 9.00pm local time we still didn't know when we would be flying to Melbourne or who we would be flying with. Concerned that not knowing when we might get on a flight was not going to make for a good night's sleep, we discussed going down to the front desk to check if there was any news before turning in.

We also started to wonder whether we were going to need to contact our bosses to let them know that we might not be able to make it to work on Tuesday as expected. I wonder if you can use special leave for 'plane broke down'???

About twenty past nine the phone in our room rang and Bernie was asked if we had been given our new flight details. Um ... no. Well you need to come to the desk right now to collect some cash to pay for a taxi to the airport to catch a Singapore flight to Melbourne at 11.50pm. Aargh, we threw everything back in our bags and headed down to the desk. Unfortunately, at the desk the news wasn't quite so good; we were told that the Singapore flight was bound for Adelaide and we would need to take a Qantas flight to Melbourne. Beggars can't be choosers I suppose! At least we will be on the right continent.

There wasn't much traffic on the way back to Changi so it didn't take us too long to get there. We checked in without any trouble, but Bernice found that her details were not in the system even though the hotel staff had told her to go to the airport. It was all pretty hit and miss really - another girl we spoke to had a direct flight to Melbourne, flying business class! Bernice didn't actually seem to have a flight at all and we had crappy seats and had to fly via Adelaide.

Steps for the day: 4,645 (3.16 kms)


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