From Russia, with Lockdown

May 25, 2011 3 Comments by

Many people in my hostel tried to talk me out of taking an Aeroflot flight out of China. It’s a notorious Russian airline known for crashes, delays, etc. But it was so amazingly cheap I couldn’t resist. When will I learn to listen to other people? Probably never, but there’s always next time.  Here’s how the whole thing went to crap…

Problems started before I even got to the airport. On the advice of one of the guys from my hostel, I should have been able to take the subway to the airport late at night. Sadly not the case. I got about half-way and then was kicked off since there were no more runs to the airport. Crapola! I not only had to find a taxi, I also had to stop buy an ATM as I didn’t have enough money to pay for said taxi. And I’d also already given away my Lonely Planet and therefore didn’t know the word for “airport” in Mandarin. I finally had to run around pretending to be an airplane before the cabbie knew what I meant. It was hilarious.

My original flight to Moscow was supposed to leave at 2:30am. Goo, so early. I checked in, no problems and settled down to wait. Soon there was a huge crowd gathered at the window looking out onto the tarmac and I stopped over to see the big deal. The problem? One of the engines of our plane was open and there were guys crawling in and out of it. Ummmmm this is not ok. We all kept watch at the windows until it got late and well, we were all exhausted. We started curling up on the floor and chairs waiting for word on our flight. That actually never happened.

6am: I finally woke up frozen and the plane was still there.

7am: A representative from the airline made an appearance to tell us that there was a problem with our airplane. Uh no shit sherlock, we’ve figured that much out for ourselves. He informed us that our new flight would be taking off at noon, and we would now be transported to a hotel. To which there was a general outcry, who wants to go to a hotel for 2 hours. Doesn’t seem to make much sense.

8am: He disappeared and when he reemerged, no we would NOT be going to the hotel. We’d just wait here til our flight left. Great.

10am: They came back out to explain to all of us with connecting flights, what the plan would be. I was rescheduled to pick up a flight into Stockholm later that day. Yes! I would be late getting in, but would still be on schedule.

11am: They start pre-boarding for all the peeps originally supposed to be on the later flight. Then there came all of us. They needed to change out our OLD boarding pass for our new one. Now they could have done this at any point in the last 10 hours. Did they? Of course not! That would have made sense and this was russia. Their plan? To just have us all mob the counter to grab a new one. It was utter chaos for 30 minutes. The longer we waited, the more frantic people became. You were convinced that you wouldn’t make this flight and then would have to wait for the next one. Pure and utter insanity.

12:30pm: We all managed to find our way onto the plane and then got to wait. Again. For another HOUR while waiting for take-off.

5pm(Moscow time): We land finally! The one and only time I have applauded when a plane landed. Whew! I had just 45 minutes to make my connection so I raced off the plane to grab the first representative I could find for directions to my new gate. Problem? They weren’t letting us through. Mind you they wouldn’t tell us WHY we couldn’t board our next flight. Just “impossible”. I swear it’s the only word in english the russians know.  So we settled down to wait to our ride to the hotel.

7pm: After everyone who WAS able to make their connections have departed, they finally start rounding up the rest of us. We all received boarding passes for tomorrow as well as a ticket to the hotel. Sweet! Progress! I can’t tell you how happy it made me to have a new ticket in my hand. Someday they would let me leave this crazy land.

8pm: We all check into our hotel, where they only have double rooms. That’s when the shit hit the fan. There was a tour group from Germany who would NOT allow the teachers to room with each other. The adults MUST have their own rooms. It was a hysterical yelling match between Germany and Mother Russia. I should have sold tickets. When it came my turn at the counter, I got yelled at too. “No single rooms!” yeah dude I grasped that concept, but I’m only one person. We argued back and forth for a minute or two, when finally Inga came to my rescue. She was a single as well and had received the same treatment a few minutes ago. We’d bunk up together and save ourselves from the concierge. We headed up to our room to catch a nap before dinner was served. Time for dinner? Midnight. Gotta love Russia.

9pm: I TRIED to go downstairs to grab myself a coke, but I wasn’t allowed outside our floor. That’s right. There was a guard on our floor with a big fat gun who wasn’t letting anyone go anywhere. I knew we couldn’t leave the building because we didn’t have a visa but I didn’t realize you couldn’t go outside your room. Bitches!

Midnight: With our escort, we all headed down for dinner. Gross. Should have stayed in bed. Just ate some bread and headed back up stairs. Well I sat in the dining room and waited for the guard to take me back upstairs.

7am: Wake-up call. Went outside in the hall to wait for our escort downstairs for breakfast. Same dude, still no sense of humor.

8am: Bus trip back to the airport. Some poor Dutch girl couldn’t find the little slip of paper they gave us on the way to the hotel so they wouldn’t let her back on the bus. I mean really. How do you think she got there in the first place? She wants to leave your country. Shouldn’t you let her do that? Finally they allowed her to back up and check her room (with escort) and she found it there. Looneys.

11am: Plane is at the gate and has no mechanical issues. Thank god! This time I applauded when we took off!

Note to self: Never, EVER take Aeroflot again.


About the author

One die-hard Mac Geek set on traveling the globe.

3 Responses to “From Russia, with Lockdown”

  1. Mom says:

    This leaves me speechless!!!

  2. Drew says:

    Sweet Jesus….

  3. Ali says:

    Oh dear God…I can’t believe you made it out alive after all that! Impressive.

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