Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Maldives Adventure - Part I - Sri Lankan Airport Fun

So today I had to leave for a trip to the Maldives on an official boondoggle of sorts. I made arrangements for a driver to pick me up and I realized that I was probably cutting it a little to close but I was unable to get in touch with him. When he did pick me up I expressed my concerns about to getting to the airport in time and he in turn expressed that with a heavy right foot.

Because I have a special airport badge we were able to go through the staff lane (all cars and passengers are inspected by the military at the airport), we were pulling up at departures with time to spare.

As expected there were small crowds of people trying to get through the entrance doors with no organization. There is an Sri Lankan Airman checking for tickets, not putting much effort into it, but slowing everything down. I managed to get through fairly quickly.

I rush to to the counter to turn in my bags as I already had a boarding pass. There was one guy in front of me, how long could that take. Well apparently forever as another agent called me over. My bags were over the limit (carrying printers) and I had to pay an overweight fee, no biggee it will be expensed. You have to go to a cashier, pay the fee, then return to the counter. No big deal right?

I go the counter and give the woman the slip of paper indicating how much overweight the bags were. She told me the amount and I hand her a credit card. I wait, and wait, and wait. I'm watching the minutes tick by. Finally they ask if I had another card, when I knew there was nothing wrong with the one I gave them, I give them another card, and wait and wait.

Finally my temper starts rising. I tell them if I need to go and get some cash tell me, but they need to make up their minds as I am cutting it close. Finally I make up my mind get my card out and head to the ATM, that's not inside the airport, but OUTSIDE.

So I go outside the airport getting hassled by security along the way. I go the first machine. Low and behold it won't give me any money. But I didn't believe it so I went to another machine and did get my money.

Now I had to go through security baggage check again but this time I whip out my airport badge which got me to the head of the line.

I get back to the cashier, pay her then to go back to the ticket agent, give her the receipt and run for my gate, but I have to go through customs first.

Usually I can go through a special line for people in the company but the guy waved me off as he was dealing with a special case apparently. The lines were slow.

I get through passport control and run for my gate. Newton's Law says my gate has to be the last one. I am running with a backpack with two laptops in it. "Sri Lanka Air paging passenger Meyer, please report to Gate 12 for boarding". I am now down to a fast walk when a guy in a golf cart stops and says "Male'?", I said yes, he tells me to 'please hurry as I am the last passenger'. I'm thinking, dude I know that and how about giving me a ride. I take off and make it to the gate and onto the half empty plane. I am dripping sweat. Not perspiring, I am DRIPPING sweat, my shirt is soaked in sweat.

I quickly fell asleep and we were in Male' quickly. When I made it out of the arrivals terminal a gentlemen was there waiting for me. There was a big group of Chinese also going to the same hotel. I had to wait for the second speedboat that was no problem, I was offered something to drink and a seat to relax. The speedboat arrived and my luggage was loaded and off we went to Male, about a two minute ride. I knew where the hotel was so I hightailed it in front of the Chinese folks.

There was still a big group of people checking in. A flight crew was in front of me complaining of the wait. One of the desk guys comes around the corner asks for my passport and told me to have a seat. In about two minutes he is at my table with my room key, he said he would send my bags up.

I go to my room and there is a nice fruit-bowl waiting for me with a card that has a handwritten note from the manager, nice touch.

I'm bushed, it's past 3:00am. Good night!

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