Wowsers, THAT Was A Long And Bumpy Trip!
Sydney is much cheaper to fly to than Brisbane from Ho Chi Minh City. It’s also my baby sister’s current hometown.
So it seemed only sensible to begin our trip home to Australia with a few days in Sydney catching up with my super-star sister and her lovely fella.
Because I’m on a budget these days, I opted for the super-cheap option of flying on budget carriers and stopping over in Singapore. And we also decided it would be a solo parenting trip. To save money.
But choosing to fly Tiger Airways to Singapore and then a new low-cost carrier called Scoot to Sydney turned out to be a bloody expensive option. And a tiring option. And a slightly annoying option.
My best-laid plans started to fray at the Ho Chi Minh City airport. After choosing the slowest check-in queue not once but twice (once I left one queue it started to move and the queue I was in stopped moving), I arrived at the gate with a comfortable amount of time before boarding.
As the boarding time approached I realised there was no sign of a plane anywhere near our boarding gate.
A few minutes later, an announcement: our plane was two hours late.
I walked over to the airline staff and told them I had a connection in Singapore. They looked at the print-out of my booking and reassured me that I still had plenty of time to catch my 2am flight from Singapore to Sydney.
Turns out I didn’t.
As I dragged Miss M into Transit Lounge E at Singapore’s Changi Airport, a pink-clad lady behind the desk identified me and told me I missed my flight.
Ah well, I was tired. A night in a hotel — with a good sleep in — wasn’t the worst thing in the world.
The pink-clad lady started talking about the next flight and it being booked and Sunday night and Monday night and … I interrupted with a very inelegant “so, who’s going to pay for a hotel for us?”
The pink-clad lady pulled her face into the most mournful expression possible and said: “this is a budget airline, they won’t pay for your accommodation. It’s part of the terms and conditions of your ticket.”
Suddenly I was awake. And wondering how much this eff-up was going to cost me.
The pink-clad lady asked for my boarding passes so she could arrange for my luggage to be held somewhere for whatever flight I managed to get booked onto next.
My boarding passes. Not in my pocket where I thought I put them. Not in my handbag. Not in the zipped-up section of my backpack where I keep my documents. Not caught up in our passports or other papers. I checked everywhere twice. Then checked again.
No boarding passes.
“This could be quite problematic,” the pink-clad lady said in that strange old-fashioned English that Singaporeans use.
And it turns out she was right. The last six days without my luggage have been quite problematic indeed.
But back to Transit Lounge E at Singapore airport.
It had free internet stations. I logged onto Facebook and asked the world to let my sister know NOT to meet me at the airport later that day.
I was stranded in more ways than one. I gave my phone to Darling Man at the airport in Ho Chi Minh City because it’s now our work phone and I didn’t want to miss any business calls while I’m out of the country. So no phone means … I don’t have anyone’s phone number anymore. No even Darling Man’s. Oooops.
I decide to spring for a few hours sleep in a real bed so I’d be in better shape to face the whole missed flight/missing luggage debacle.
It’s approaching 3am and Miss M is starting to flag. Only just starting to flag, after an hour or so of jumping off the lounges in Transit Lounge E, rearranging the rocks in the pots of ornamental plants and “racing” up and down the lounge in a manner entirely inappropriate for the early hours of the morning.
Miss M doesn’t want to walk anymore. And she doesn’t want to sit on the trolley anymore. She doesn’t want to sit on my shoulders. She only wants to drape herself over my shoulder and sleep with her head buried in my neck. It’s really awkward pushing a baggage trolley like this. Even awkwarder doing it without the trolley and with our carry on luggage also draped all over me.
We traverse the airport. Which is bigger than the town I grew up in. Bigger than Australia even.
When we finally find the airport transit hotel we’re told that it’s fully booked and we’ll have to come back at 8am. The hotel guy then told me that there was a transit lounge across the way. I looked in the direction he was pointing and saw, through a glass wall, a collection of easy chairs with very uncomfortable-looking armrests.
“Can you lie down and sleep there?” I asked.
“No, madam. It’s a lounge. For relaxing,” he said.
I think at this point I heaved a great sigh. And headed back to Transit Lounge E, which had been moved to the other side of the planet. When we finally got back there we found it was littered with sleeping bodies taking up every available couch.
Defeated and deflated and very very tired, I set up camp on the floor, in a dark corner. Miss M’s head on my arm, my head on her tiny backpack, two Cambodian scarves serving as blankets.
When the sunlight woke me up a few hours later there was a spare couch. So we relocated.
And a few hours after the sun came up I shook Miss M awake and starting trying to work out what was what.
It took more than an hour to bounce back and forth between the Tiger lost luggage desk and the Scoot lost luggage desk. Both airlines said my luggage was the other airline’s responsibility. Sigh.
Finally, I filled out a lost luggage report and headed out into Singapore’s swampy heat to meet up with a friend (with a pool).
Our unexpected stopover in Singapore was amazing. I had a five-hour afternoon nap, Poppy had a four-hour play with a one-year-old. And then we had dinner, a swim, a few glasses of wine … and then it was time to head back to the airport.
A mere seven and a half hours later (and a day later than scheduled) …
… we made it to Sydney!
Day six of our Australian trip and there’s still no word on our missing luggage. Sigh.
8 years ago