Thurs 5 Jan Set the alarm for 6am, but my phone rang at 1am and again at 5am – my hairdresser and chiropractor reminding me about my appointments! Caught the shuttle bus to the airport, checked in and boarded the plane to leave on time at 11:15 . . . and then the dramas that were to last for days, began. At 11:45am it was announced that a fault was being fixed and we would be 90 min late leaving, so we were served lunch on the tarmac and watched a movie. After 3 hours on the tarmac with a bit of bumping and banging there was an announcement in Chinese – and the Chinese passengers started to gather their belongings. We knew what the English version would be! The plane would take a further 4 hours to fix and we were to wait near the gate.
We all got off but were then stopped at a desk with no explanation. After 30min those disembarking in China were asked to go to the front. Some of the other passengers had decided to queue (which is where they stayed for the next 4 hours) and most decided to just sit down. About an hour later and after lots of Chinese discussion, those disembarking in China were led away, presumably to another flight. They then announced that they would try and get people on other flights to their final destinations.
At first there were only 3 staff at the desk. They took about 20min to process each passenger, with lots of discussion amongst themselves. At about 7pm they announced that the plane would leave the next morning and we would be booked into hotels. We had joined the queue by that time. They also finally saw fit to hand out water and sandwiches – just as well we had our own supply of food in the meantime. A big group of passengers simply took down the barricade, and crowded the front desk, which was unfortunate for us as we had finally just made it to the front of the line to be served. Then the 2 counter staff who were serving our line packed up and left and we had to join the crowd.
We were eventually handed vouchers for accommodation at the hotel where we had had dinner the night before (more stars). We didn’t arrive there until 9pm via the airport train and shuttle bus. The airport is enormous. Our luggage stayed on the plane, so we had our first of several days in the same clothes!