Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Rewind: NAIA DRAMA, 5 October 2004


I was careful to pack light because of the 20 kilos KLM limit, but I can’t help squeezing in my favorite salted eggs, aji-ichiban dried sea foods, dried pork & beef tapa, lucky me pancit canton, omega pain killer, efficascent oil, on top of some clothes and gourmet wares that I bought in Cebu.

Well, the 1 hour flight Cebu to Manila was uneventful, but not my arms and my shoulders. They were dead beat from dragging my heavy suitcase + laptop bag + big handbag from Mactan Cebu Airport to Centennial Airport to NAIA.

Manila – NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport)

I was 4 hours early for my flight. My wallet only had PHP 650 – enough to pay for the PHP 550 airport terminal fee. Off hand I knew my ticket was without the Philippine Travel Tax since it was booked and bought by my company in Amsterdam. But then I read somewhere, well I thought I knew (stupid me, to the readers: never assume anything) that I will be exempted from the travel tax simply because I am a balikbayan (Filipino from abroad visiting).


Anyway, to make sure, I dropped by at the Philippine Tourism counter where my case was evaluated. And what did I found out? I AM NOT EXEMPTED! The lady who attended to me was really nice so it was hard for me to bitch her around, LOL. She carefully explained that only ONBEPAALDE VERGUNNING (indefinite residency) is exempted and since I have a BEPAALDE VERGUNNING (definite residency), I am not, helaas. She carried on asking me more questions….

“Are you working?” she asked. Of course I said yes, in fact this trip was all about business.

“If you are NOT working, then you could have been exempted”, she added as if I just committed treason.

Oh gawd, *realization hit me* *slaps my face*, stupid me, I should have declared I am a housewife! But that is lying?

Off I went dragging my stuff down where the ATMs are to get money and pay for this hassling travel tax, only to find out that there are no lifts! Damn this ^&*%$@! NAIA. I had to go back and plead politely to the lady if I can leave my suitcase. Much to my satisfaction, she obliged.

I quickly ran hop down to the escalator, found the ATMs, and jabbed my card and password in. Grunt. Not working. I tried the other ATM, not working too! What the hell is going on? I mean, this was exactly the same ATM I withdrew money from a week and a half ago!?

So pissed now and wanting to pull my hairs, I went to the banks in the adjacent corner and asked if they can charge my credit card against cash. The answer was a big NO. I then asked the other banks, same, a resounding big NO. Fuming, I went up while thinking of a plan.

I was at the KLM counter explaining my dilemma and asked them if they can help me by charging my credit card against cash. Voila, the 5 stars ever-friendly staff of KLM assured me not to worry and informed me of the procedure. So technically speaking, this case will be solved.


But before I can settle the travel tax annoyance, I had to check-in first for my flight. So there I was, lining up. I glanced on my right and saw a long queue and thought to myself, “Boy, am I so lucky to be in a short line.”. Then I saw the sign: BUSINESS CLASS. Ugh, I am flying economy.

The long queue was like eternity because KLM was pre-weighing everyone’s luggage before check-in. After 45 minutes, came my turn. Confident enough, I placed my luggage on the weighing scale: ooops, 3 kilos overweight. I charmed my way with the KLM personnel but he gave me a pleading please-don’t-make-my-job-hard look. I wanted to switch to bitch mode but like the lady earlier, he was very nice to me.

So I resigned and stepped aside. There I was in my full glory unpacking my luggage in the shiny floors of NAIA. Out came my shoes, salted eggs, magazines, and aji-ichiban stuff. Since I have an extra paper bag, I had luck. But really what's the sense of taking out 3 kilos from my suitcase when I will just hand carry it anyway? It’s not going to make the plane any lighter, is it?

When I was done re-packing, I gave a flying nod to the KLM personnel and in return he shot me an approval look. I mean hello, I am not stupid to line up for 45 minutes again.

But before I could fall back in line, I heard someone at my back say, “Miss, please get your line at the back.” --Huh? Who was that?

I turned around and saw this girl. My first impulse was to bitch. Instead I sternly but politely said, “I was already standing in this line long before you came. I was just asked to step aside to re-pack my luggage.” --She gave me a blank look and I gave it back to her before I moved on.

Finally at long last, it was my turn to check-in at the KLM counter. Time check: 2 hours before my flight.

After doing the check-in, the KLM personnel told me to proceed to the next counter where my credit card will be processed to charge against cash for my travel tax payment. The nuisance is, the person before me had huge problems with his ticket, hence the bottleneck. The long check-in queue beside me had already vanished, but there I was, seemed destined to wait forever.

Then came a guy (another KLM personnel) asking us what he can do. He wanted to help since there were a couple of us busy waiting in the line. He eyed me first, and being the cooperative me, I explained my situation. The next thing I heard from him was a bitch rant:


“You know, we don’t usually do this. You should have withdrawn money. You should have settled this beforehand blah di blah blah...” He said in a sarcastic tone.
“Yes I understand, I just didn’t know that I wasn’t exempted and the ATMs below were not working.”, I replied explaining but was quite surprised by his strong come on towards me.
“Well, it was in the first place your responsibility to check this out. All Filipinos must pay the travel tax even if they live outside the Philippines….” He quipped sharply.

And to my horror he continued lecturing me like as if I am his 5 year old kid while slamming down his pads and pen, his face resembling like I just snatched his boyfriend (well he is gay). My inner bitchdom, like a ruthless volcano, was awakened, now brimming with smoke and lava. I can handle a civil discussion but don’t start lecturing me in public whilst slamming stuff down. Where is his etiquette towards customers? And who the hell is he anyway?

So, in my well modulated but sharp voice I said, “Excuse me but I already had this discussion with your other colleague and I had no problems.”

He still continued to yak and bitch. To complicate matters, the bakla (gay) started screaming that he is an American citizen.

My eardrums went flapping to the 7th heavens. Huh?! What?! What does that got to do? What is he trying to imply?

That got me in a fit. My fuse just blew off and I stepped over to the dark side of my reasoning. I didn’t know anymore what I spewed at this pathetic creature in front of me, though I still remembered that I did it civilly with poise (haha). Anyway, I think all my lava discharge coated his miserable face that he excused himself while all the KLM personnel just shook their heads and kept quiet.

Then one of the affable KLM staff came to assist me after the little melee subsided. He offered his sincerest apology, for the wait and for the behavior of his disturbed colleague. Afterwhich, the lady behind me offered a somewhat sympathetic albeti funny comment. Well, I do not need sympathies really. He, the gay KLM staff was over the border with his prized customer service behavior. Good thing that I am not war freak or I would have written to KLM.
I left the check-in counter 45 minutes before my flight... to think I was there 4 hours earlier.

NEXT: The interesting people I met during the flight.

14 comments:

  1. that pained me to read that.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yeah, there are people like this who ruins your flight experience.

    ReplyDelete
  3. that's why free peanuts and gingerale do wonders

    ReplyDelete
  4. stephen,

    welcome to my blogworld hehe. when i look back to that NAIA day, i cant help but laugh!!!

    pinay_nl,

    yeah, i think this bakla/gay had some fight before the incident somewhere else coz he was really hot! lol! but the other klm staff were very nice and polite.

    ana,

    i think what u have is "permanent residency". it differs per country's immigration policies concerning residence permits. here in nl, u can only get ur permanent residency after u have exhausted the 1 year temporary residency + another set of temporary residency years (depending on the expiry of your passport).

    speaking of salted eggs, im craving now haha. i ran out of stock na! haay pinag initan ako ng bakla. next time huwag magpa sexy ng attire, LOL!

    ReplyDelete
  5. A similar thing happened to me in Boston. Awful experience. The Northwest check-in staff even gave me a bin bag to throw my extra stuff! Imagine NWA was charging me almost half a ticket for the extra kilos. So I won't be exempted pala from the travel tax given my residency status. I was a work permit holder in the UK and was advised by the Embassy to apply for this OEC certificate so I can be exempted from the travel tax. Iba pala if temporary resident.

    ReplyDelete
  6. nope, i've got a 'titre de séjour' renewable every year - which translates to the definite residency card you have in NL. i have to wait 5 years before i could get that 'carte de resident'!!

    na insecure siguro sa beauty mo yung nasa counter that's why they asked you to pay hehe..

    lapit na uwi mo...bring more salted eggs hehe

    ReplyDelete
  7. I am so kuripot. Every year, I'd go to the DOT Office in Kalaw, show my resident permit (has to be permanent), pay 100pesoses and get an exemption. Although, before I got my permanent residency, I went there for 2 years and the manong still gave me an exemption. hehe

    But, if the company is paying, it sure is not worth the trouble. Hirap mag park sa kalaw. Nearest possible is sa Jollibee, if you are lucky. Tapos, lakad ka. Not to mention the traffic before you get to Kalaw!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Anonymous10:27 am

    I enjoy reading your blog almost weekly, MissT. Hahah. I love your NAIA encounter with the KLM staff. Well, I hope you have a better luck next time. As always, many are threatened with intelligent women who are strikingly attractive as well like you. Lo and behold, you charm people even online. Smile!

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