Off to Dili.
Caught a 5 AM flight via Bali. Flight time changed to 5:45 am the day before. I am aware from others that flight departure times may change minute to minute, and it’s an international flight, so I make a plan to arrive at airport by 3. I’m out the door at 2:15 AM.
Arrive at airport before it opens. Along with hundreds of other like minded individuals. We wait in a fairly orderly queue out front. Apparently, all of Sriwijaya Air’s flights leave at the same time. At 3AM, they open the doors and we all file in through an initial security checkpoint. This one to check that you’re not bringing in a bomb to the ticket counter.
Beyond this is the ticket lobby. there is no line. No queue. No corral. Just an open lobby. And all of us file in and go no where. We promptly fill the lobby. There is no one behind the counter. It’s just dark. And still, more travellers file in and crowd and shove and finagle. It is uncertain what happens next. Maybe it will be like a Who concert. It is getting tight.
At 3:20 AM, one worker strolls up to one of 12 counters. The hundreds of people all shuffle and heave over toward him and we wait again. The first person in line has some sort of problem, so his check-in is slow. Another worker comes. Another counter opens. Another shift in the crowd.
This goes on every 5 minutes or so for the next 20 minutes. And with each new counter, there is a new problem, so no one moves very fast. By now, all of 5 people have checked in.
Then 90 minutes before our flight, in stroll the real professionals. 10 women saunter in. All coiffed and matching and heeled with a matching bag to boot. They climb behind the counter and over the luggage belts and replace all the trainees that have been struggling for the last 45 minutes. The line clears in minutes.
We board. There is no announcement over the PA, instead a woman opens a door and yells, “Denpasar, Bali!” at the top of her lungs and we all get up. The man at the far end of the jetway is caught be surprise. He’s unsure where to send us. He yells down to the plane crew. “Where is this plane going?”
It is remarkable. We all leave on time.
We fly through Bali and arrive there about 90 minutes later. We all get off the plane. They bus us to the other end of the long terminal. We get off. Those of us going to Dili are told to go to Immigration, so we do. We stand in a long line. We pay some money and then we stroll back through airport and wind up back at the exact same plane we just left. Such are things on Sri Wijaya Air. “Your Flying Partner!”
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