I have my flight back to Saigon on Thursday, 6th of June, at 10.30pm. It is 11am, I am about 170km away from Hanoi, in the mountains, ready for an (already-)challenge to get back to HN in time for my flight at the evening. Stopping for lunch, around noon, I charge my phone and I find the following message:
I don’t understand most of it, but my guess is that the 9pm flight got canceled and pushed back to an earlier time, 7.40. But as I never bought a ticket for a 9pm flight, I didn’t really worry that much, I thought they might have confused something. I asked my friend who speaks way better VNese and she said yes, it got rescheduled. I checked my e-mails and found that they sent me a whole new ticket for my flight back, time: 7.40pm. They also called me. I figured it must be the truth! haha! fun! We have to make the impossible happen.
We were driving through the mountains of North-East VN for 4 days, making about 200km each day (which is +/- 10hours of driving). It was exhausting and we went to sleep early every night to wake up between 6 and 7am to get going, as it get’s dark around 7pm at nighttime. Wednesday (the night before our flight back) we got stuck in the mountains in heavy rain when it was already dark, and we got saved by a VNese family, letting us sleep in their living room. We did not have a shower and we slept only a few hours on a bed with no mattress. It was fine though, everything was perfect, we were happy about every mountain, every tree, every house, (nearly) every animal we came across. Just until we got these messages from Vietjet Air and had to realize that we only have 5-6 hours to get back to Hanoi. We were exhausted, it was our last day, my friend already fell with the bike and was suffering, I felt dizzy and had no energy at all. A good bowl of Pho and some fried rice helped us to get motivated for our hustle back. It was complete war. Once we got to the motorway and we had to rush through truck after truck and listen to uncountable horns and having our eyes and lungs full of dust, every sign of our peaceful trip blown away, I already got so mad at the airline for canceling flights and informing people less than 12 hours before.
We made it. We brought our bikes back at 6.30, paying for all the damage we caused (about 5 bucks each haha), and took the first taxi. Of course it was rush hour, we got to the airport by 7.15. I ran to the check-in counters, waving with my passport, trying to get attention, thinking that they would be aware of the chaos they caused and ready to take care of confused people to arrive.
First guy, 7.15pm, Airport Hanoi:
“Hello, can you please help me?? I might have to take a flight in 20 minutes, I got a text message, I am not sure!”
G1: “Sorry, sorry, I don’t know.”
“Can you check on your computer?”
G1, waving his hands:”Cannot, Cannot, I only check in luggage, please go to ticket counter.”
Loosing time, I run towards the ticket counter, that is (of course) super busy. I get to a girl. I cut lines all the time. I don’t care, I am furious. This trip was on a super low-budget, I managed spending exactly the amount I planned on spending, I didn’t feel like missing a flight. My face and hands were black from the ride to Hanoi. I haven’t come across a mirror in hours.
The girl can’t tell me if it is the flight I have to take, instead she writes down my reservation number and orders me to the ticketing machines. It is now about 7.20. The ticket machines are not working. I run back to the check in counter, my goal: A woman who looks powerful. She is dressed differently and seems to be in charge of whatever. We will call her ‘Devil’.
“Hello miss, can you please help me, I think I have to get on the 7.40 flight, can you check my reservation number and print out my ticket?”
She checks my number, it is 7.25pm, this company is low-budget and brand new, printing out a ticket takes 5 seconds, the airport in Hanoi is tiny, it takes 2 minutes to get from check-in to your gate, if you’re fast. Do the maths, no problem!
DEVIL: “You are too late for your flight. Check-in is 30 min before departure. You are too late. Please go to ticket counter and get a new ticket.”
Ok, it is over, let’s FIGHT!
“THIS is not my flight! I booked a flight for 10.30, you canceled it, now YOU have to help me! Just get me on the flight, I have carry-on baggage, just give me my ticket and let me run!”
The devil, baring her teeth, takes her arms up and gestures a cross, screaming:
“NO, you are too late, go to the ticket counter, now!”
We scream a little back and forth. Totally senseless. I go to another girl, hoping for help. Afraid of the furious ‘English’ lady, she doesn’t know what to say, and calls the devil. Seeing my face, she, again, makes a very forceful cross and points to the ticket counter. We scream at each other through 3 rows of people checking in. It was actually quite funny. My flight is still on the ground! Never give up!
I go to the ticket counter, time is wasted, it must be about 5 minutes before departure. I do give up on this one, but I insist on getting a free seat in the next one, at 8.30. The girl I talk to doesn’t know how to deal with me and also doesn’t have the vocabulary, as 80% of the rest of the staff. She hands my passport on to her male colleague, who is busy with 3 other guys. I get through to him, he, sweet as sugar, tells me the following:
“Ok, you get a ticket for the flight at 1.55am, 400000 VND please.”
I will stop writing down my reactions to all the stuff he said to me. I think you can imagine. His attitude was incredibly arrogant, and one of the things he said was:
“It is over miss, do you understand me, it is OVER!!!!!!”
I told him I will complain about this and I can’t believe they wanna make me pay for a mistake they made. For a flight THEY canceled. I told him he is unfriendly and this is no customer service. Snippy, he was rolling his eyes.
“These are the rules miss. I can’t help you.”
fucking think out of the box. There is always a solution.
I clearly wasn’t the only one, the ticket counter was full of people storming in, discussing (quietly) and paying. Nobody tried to argue though. Ironically, during all of this struggle, on top of the ticket counter, a flat screen tv constantly played this video:
I have no other choice than paying 20 bucks for making my disgusting stinky body wait 5 hours for the flight at 2am. My friend and I celebrate the situation ironically with pizza and beer. She, finding out at the check-in, that her flight (Jetstar Pacific) has also been canceled, so I am glad she didn’t have to wait alone until 1am. She didn’t have to pay for her canceled flight. We sleep on whatever we found, sofas, floor, backpack.
At 1, I finally check in. With my ticket I receive a meal voucher. Sweet!, I think, at least something. I board, they play ‘Gangnam Style’ on repeat. at 2 am. We take off, it is terrible, it is raining and it is super bumpy, lightnings all around us, so many people throwing up. Once it get’s calmer, the stewardess passes by and I give her my voucher.
“Sorry miss, this is to be used on ground!”
Sure it is.