Sunday, October 9, 2011

dear PAL

During my Philippine Airlines flights last weekend (see related post here), you acted like a typical macho man who had just gotten married and laid down his rules for his new bride: "I'll be home when I want, if I want, and at what time I want, and I don't expect any hassle from you... Those are my rules."

My 640pm flight was delayed to 730pm when I checked in. By 730pm (yes, my supposed boarding time), my boarding gate was still filled with the mob who had not boarded the supposed flight before ours. So even the floor space was not enough to accommodate the passengers of the 2 flights. I expected to hear from you then - to tell me the new ETD (which none of the airport folks knew), or to apologize for the delay, or to - at the very least - tell me boarding time was delayed. But I did not hear from you.

Eventually, I boarded via a different gate at 830pm after a matter-of-factly announcement to board. Again, I did not hear even a hint of an apology. You made it seem like boarding an hour later (2 hours, if I counted back to the original flight time) was perfectly natural.

On board, while the aircraft was still parked at the gate, the flight attendants surprisingly served us snacks. Again, I did not hear from you. Not a peep to tell me why - or even that - we were in very unusual circumstances. You didn't need to tell me why. Just acknowledging that it was unorthodox would have made me feel you understood me, that you got me.

Still parked at the gate, the cabin crew started serving dinner! And when I asked when we were taking off, the answer was "Soon." It was obviously an empty "Soon." since I had time to finish my snack box AND dinner before the plane even started taxiing down the tarmac. Even then, I did not hear from you. You were being your usual quiet self, like you always are when you're watching the game on TV and absent-mindedly nodding when I would ask you open-ended (not yes-or-no) questions. And even though you were feeding me, it didn't really feel like you were wining and dining me. I needed you to support me, to cry with me. (Maybe if you gave me jewelry, this would have been a different story post.)  

We finally took off a few minutes past 10pm. I made it to Hongkong and did not think of you until I waited almost an hour at baggage claim after my flight back to Manila, with absolutely no one at the Baggage Assistance counter to ask about the ETD of my bag. Even then, I did not hear from you. You were not even around to lend an ear or a shoulder to 'cry' on (a lap to sit on would have helped too). This time, you were not only absent-minded, but completely absent.

I pity the foreigners on my flights that weekend. Like me, they couldn't read your mind. I imagine they were clueless about the strike and were appalled as they got to know the kind of man airline you were.

I really didn't need for you to tell me exactly when we were boarding, or taking off, or when you would deliver my baggage. A range, a mere idea, would have been acceptable since I understood you were in a bind (with the strike and all). If a range was not even possible, I would have understood. If only you were more apologetic... Or if you empathized more - if you made it seem like you understood my predicament, that you were causing major inconvenience... I just really needed you to talk to me.

Have you not heard that the key to a loving relationship is communication, communication, communication?
If you had talked to me, I would have been able to tell you that I did appreciate that my flight was not canceled, that you served dinner on board unlike my friends who just got snacks on their Cathay Pacific flight, that you eventually got me to HK and back safely.

If only you talked to me that weekend, I would have accepted and understood and sympathized with you.

But sadly, you didn't.

Photo from frommetoyou.

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