I’m beginning to recall that old adage “too good to be true” ever since making a booking for flights to Greece with Oman Air a couple of months ago. Yineka Mou had come across an ad on her Instagram feed, (always a reliable source) which promised a business class trip to Athens and return for just $3800 Ozzie dollars each on flatbeds.com . ‘Wow, that’s cheap’ I thought, and because Oman Air was new to me, I started doing some research of them on Google and Flight Aware. Mmmm, mostly great reviews about them too, with one reviewer even comparing their economy class as superior even to British Airways business class ( why am I not surprised?). So while not quite as convenient as flying on Emirates or Qatar, it will mean saving over two and a half thousand dollars EACH! I can put up with a little inconvenience for that much money.
Oman Air doesn’t yet fly into or from Perth, but rather from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, which means getting to KL to catch the flights, then on to Muscat, before another Oman Air leg to Athens. After hours and hours and days and days online, working out which were the best options on which flights to take, which aircraft etc, we decided that the best option was to forget about getting to KL on Malindo Airways (no, me either), but rather to cough up another couple a hundred dollars each to fly to KL with Malaysia Airlines…. because, unlike Malindo Air, they had ‘flat beds’ onboard their A330! Yes, Malaysia Airlines, where a flight with them could easily turn into a ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ without the magic! My only concern, back then, was that journey to Athens from Muscat on Omam Air was going to be with one of the new ( remotely controlled?) Boing MAX8 aircraft that OmanAir were going to use.
Just 2 weeks ago I began to receive the first of many emails from Flight Centre ( Luckily, as it turned out, I had to book thru Flight Centre, as couldn’t book online with Oman Air) advising of flight schedule changes, the worst one being a change from the stopover in Muscat from two and half hours to twenty six and a half hours! What! Having only just started their new daily flight to and from Athens in July, in August they cancelled 14 of these flights, and this month their ‘daily’ flight has been reduced to operate on just thirteen days! I find out, from ‘googling’, that because of the continued grounding of Boing’s Max8, Oman Air now don’t have enough aircraft to service many of their routes, so have had to cancel HUNDREDS of flight each month since August. Apparently they were a BIG customer of Boing’s and had signed up for dozens of new MAX8’s to be delivered.
So, not wishing to spend over 24 hours in the lounge at Muscat, nice as it supposedly is, I contacted Miss Ebony at the Floreat Flight Centre as to what other options I had, and she helpfully advised that if I left Perth a day earlier, same itinerary as before, I’d be able to avoid the cancelled flights out of Muscat.
Great, I mean , how is an extra day spent in Greece going to be a burden, it’s not is it? The only problem now was changing all my hotel bookings, ferry tickets etc to account for a days earlier arrival, which turned out to be quite easy…… I was dealing with Greeks after all…so “eh, den pirazei, ” (eh, never mind) was the typical greek response I got when I called them up…”don’t worry , I fix for you OK”
Anyway, YM and I are now sitting in the lounge at PERTH airport to catch our Malaysia Airlines flight to Kuala Lumpur, scheduled to depart at 2:10 am ( yep, ten minutes past two in the morning) and they have just announced that the flight is delayed until 3am….. that means it may not arrive in KL in time to make our onward flight to Muscat and Athens. Already stressed by the original short transfer time of 80 minutes, it now means that we’ll have less than 45 minutes to transfer to our flight to Muscat….. and if we don’t make it, then next flight from Muscat to Athens is in 2 days time….wtf! Ah, never mind, or to be more greek-like…den perazei, I’m in the shared Qantas lounge drinking cheap wine, so relax. Except for one little problem, the lounge at Perth International Airport is going to close at 2 am and our flight is now leaving at 3am. YM looks a little glum as we are very courteously escorted from the lounge, but I try to lift her spirits by telling her that it’s not the destination but the journey that matters most. Mmm, maybe far too early in the morning to relate to this piece of wisdom, so I try another tactic…. why don’t we go to the terminal bar for a drink, while waiting to board? Heading towards the bar, we pass thru the by now deserted terminal, and even the Duty Free shop has closed up….well, not quite closed up, as it’s that open type of department style shop which spreads out its wares either side of the passage way, so they can never exactly ‘close up’ … but all the staff have gone home long ago. If you are desperate enough to want to buy something at their inflated prices, well tough luck. Of course, there is the option to steal it, as all the goodies are still laid out self service style, just waiting for you to choose them!
Approaching the bar I can’t help but notice that it looks kinda deserted too…..and that’s because it’s also closed. A security guard passing by informs us that everything in the airport is now closed, “your plane should have left ages ago” and “ if I was you, I’d just go the gate and wait patiently until your plane is ready to board” Good advice mate!
Without the help of more alcohol to assist, my stress levels rise with each passing minute that we are delayed, as it’s really critical that we make it to KL in time to get our flight to Muscat, because if not, the next flight out of Muscat to Athens isn’t until two days later!
…..and what if we make the flight, but our luggage doesn’t! That’s a real worry that I now have, and at this point I’m beginning to think that maybe I should have forked out that extra 5 grand after all, and flown with Emirates.
So, if you read the follow up to this blog-post from Athens in a few days time you’ll know we made all the connections ok, (fingers crossed) but far more importantly, as least to me (and my family) it will mean that our Malaysia Airways pilot stuck to the planned route and didn’t feel it necessary to take the plane on a detour to somewhere in the southern ocean….
Help Yourself. ….it’s a new concept, putting the FREE back in Duty FREE !