I’ve had to hurry for my flight several times. Once, despite a three hour transit at Los Angeles, I only just barely made my connecting flight. Still, I didn’t have to run then. This would be my first time, flying Cathay Pacific from Singapore to Narita, when I actually had to run for my connecting flight at Hong Kong.
My outbound flight out of Singapore arrived late. That led to a late departure. Late enough that the flight would have touched down at roughly when my connecting flight was scheduled to depart.
When I enquired on the plane, the cabin crew assured me that the ground staff at Hong Kong, where I was going to connect on another flight to Narita, would see to it that I will make my connection. Good. I also made sure that luggage would follow us, because we are still making another transfer at Narita, so we could not afford luggage following on another plane.
As soon as we touched down, transfer passengers were informed to look out for ground staff to assist with our transfer. Standard procedure. However, what happened thereafter was such a complete shock to me.
After gathering all the transfer passengers, the ground staff told us we have to move quickly in order to catch our flight. He will direct us, we just have to follow him. Yeah, but of course, we already knew that. I thought there might be a buggy to whisk us to our next gate. But no, it seems we were going to walk.
Alright, walking is fine. Except that this fellow was walking really really fast. He was a young man with nothing to carry (apart from perhaps a file). Most passengers would have to be lugging carry-on baggage. Some, like us, would have children in tow. I don’t know for sure, but there could be other more elderly passengers too.
Not only was this fellow walking very fast, he was actually hurrying everyone. Seriously hurrying. Like, repeatedly telling all of us, that we’ve got to go faster. Go, go, go. Quick, faster. So fast that I lost sight of him several times.
At one point, he shouted out over an open void, from an upper floor while others were still on a lower floor struggling to catch up, for everyone to go faster. He even actually singled out a specific couple, and called out to them: “You two, there, you have to move faster!!!”
As we neared our gate, at the last turn, he stood there and directed us, “Go, go, go all the way, your gate is on the right!”
Wow. I was reminded of how much he sounded like an army bootcamp instructor. Amazing way to treat your customers.
I was even more annoyed when, upon reaching our gate, we discovered that our connecting flight was delayed. They had not yet begun boarding. Surely the Cathay Pacific staff had to know this, and realised that not so much hurrying was needed!
We only had a one hour transit, according to schedule, for our outbound flight. On our return, we had a three hour transit. We expected things to be smoother and more relaxed on our return.
Guess what? Our return flight from Narita was delayed. We sat on the tarmac for a good one hour before our flight finally left the ground. We didn’t really expect to be late catching our connecting flight, since there were three hours in transit to begin with.
But somehow, we arrived with only one hour to spare. Not such a big deal right? However, upon arrival, Cathay Pacific ground staff picked us up and we went through the whole hurrying regime again. Slightly less stressful this time. Again, upon reaching our gate, we found that our flight had not begun boarding.
All the hurrying for nothing.
I don’t fly all that regularly. But I’ve flown enough times to experience many types of problems. The most complicated one was on a return flight from Washington, D.C., to Singapore. On that trip, I had two flight cancellations, one delay, and two re-routes, including transiting in a country I wasn’t even supposed to go through. However, I think the running that Cathay Pacific made us go through at Hong Kong International Airport takes the cake.
I’m left thinking that Cathay Pacific has a very serious problem managing their schedules.