PHUKET: People say they love travelling, but what they really mean is that they enjoy spending time in other places, not the actual experience of travelling itself. Air travel is one of those unfortunate gray areas where regulations seem to vary from airport to airport.
For a recent trip from Phuket to Bangkok, I booked and paid for my flight on line. I also checked in on the airline’s website and printed out my ticket and boarding pass. As per their instructions, if you didn’t have baggage to check in, you could go straight to the boarding gate at least 20 minutes prior to departure.
Just to be on the safe side, I arrived an hour before my flight. I decided to grab a bite before boarding and followed the ’24-hour Burger King’ sign at the far end of the airport, only to find it shuttered closed.
The only other option being overpriced airport food and snacks, I passed up and decided to proceed to the boarding gate. To my annoyance, they sent me straight back to the airline counter to get another boarding pass, telling me the one I’d printed from the website wouldn’t suffice.
The employee at the airline counter took my boarding pass and replaced it with an identical one. He also told me the flight would be boarding from a gate number different than the one on the boarding pass. I double checked if this was due to an error in printing and he said that it had just been changed. I proceeded to the gate I was told to go to, only to find it deserted. A quick walk around the departure lounge showed me that the gate number printed on the boarding pass was, in fact, the correct one.
On the return trip from Bangkok, everything turned out to be just the opposite. This time, despite having a printed boarding pass already, I stood in line at the airline check-in counter to get a new boarding pass.
Strangely, I was told that I didn’t need it. I told them about the incident with the airport and airline personnel in Phuket, but they just smiled and shrugged.
As I returned to Phuket and made my way to the parking area, I thanked my lucky stars that unlike the dozens of tourists waiting for taxis, at least I wouldn’t have to pay an exorbitant amount of money to get back into the city.
— Sahar Aftab Paliwala
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