Friday, June 20, 2008

The 20-Years-in-the-Making Plane Ride

The last time I got on a plane, I was around eight years old. Other than having a closer look at the clouds, our two-hour flight was pretty much traumatic for me. The change in air pressure hurt my ears pretty badly and maybe the change in altitude gave me a hard time breathing.

I don’t know. Can an eight-year-old be hypochondriac?

I was afraid history would repeat itself twenty years after. The only difference is, I wouldn’t have my mom beside me to tell me to stay calm because my ears are going to be fine eventually, or my dad to assure me that I won’t die of suffocation. This time, I got to fly alone for around three hours.

Well, I’m not exactly alone because my mom found me company—a lady who’s flying to Singapore, too. Boy, my mom is good! Five minutes after we stepped on the Centennial 2 terminal, she already found someone to entrust her daughter with. As it turned out, the lady wasn’t bad company at all. She almost acted like my mom, only younger.

Who would have thought boarding a plane will be more complicated than merely getting a passport and a ticket, and parking your butt on a comfy seat? Well, actually my mom and sister talked me through the semi-tedious procedure several days before my flight, but real life proved to be more..umm…ahh..real.

So how does one get out of the country?

First you enter the airport bearing your passport and ticket. Don’t forget your bags which undergo the first metal detector test and, I think, X-ray. Next you pay the terminal fee worth Php750.00. Some people who get their tickets from travel agencies pay the terminal fee prior to the day of the trip. If that is the case, you don’t have to dish out extra Pinoy cash at the airport.

You may check in your luggage after your first payment. Remember to check your ticket with regard your luggage’s weight limit. I’m not entirely sure of the standard limit but my ticket said 20 kilos for the checked-in luggage and 7 kilos for the hand-carried bag. Keeping with the limit will save you several US dollars which you’re better off allotting for your shopping. Make sure you transfer all liquids in your hand-carried bags—alcohol, hand sanitizers, eye lubricant, perfume, etc.—to your checked-in luggage. At this stop, you will also have your chance to choose your seat. If you want a free view of the clouds, choose the window seat; if you pee a lot, better choose the aisle seat. Before leaving the check-in counter, you may get a boarding pass which you’re supposed to fill out before presenting yourself to the immigration people.

With a few kilos less, you then proceed to the tourism window to pay the international tax which is around Php 1,620.00 (or was it Php 1,720.00?). You then stand before the immigration people bearing your plane ticket and passport, and have yourself questioned or grilled—depending on the mood of the one with authority who is sitting behind the glass window. Try to be pleasant. That way, the immigration lady/guy wouldn’t give you a hard time. If everything goes well, you will be allowed to go through the last security check.

On the final security check, you will again have your hand carried bags scanned, along with your shoes and belts —yes, you’ll have to take them off (but I didn’t take off my belt). Once you’re cleared, you may sit and wait until someone announces that passengers for your flight (take note of your flight number) may board the plane. When that happens, exit the correct gate that leads to your plane. Find your seat, relax, buckle up and enjoy the flight.

Getting in another country is way easier. You just have to get off the plane, say “Hi” to the foreign immigration guy/girl, get your luggage, hail a taxi then leave the airport. Easy.

Flying is like going on a thrill ride—a Ferris wheel, if the flight goes smoothly, a roller coaster, if there’s turbulence along the way. I’m not really a carnival ride kind of person but I honestly enjoyed my flight from take off to landing—turbulence included as well as aerial turns.

This time, I didn’t have troubles breathing and my ears, well let’s say I got a good tip from my mom to combat that bump.

I genuinely had a great time, I wouldn’t mind flying again…and again…and again.

No comments: