Friday, May 21, 2010

فى أوروبا و الدول المتقدمة *1

In Europe and other developed countries (1)

When the Iceland volcano first erupted and I saw people on TV stuck at different airports worldwide, I felt pity for them and never imagined that I’ll be one of them. I was in a business trip to Germany (and to be honest the business part took only one day and the rest was shopping and sightseeing :)) and on my way back the volcano erupted again and caused the close of some European airports including Munich, from which I was supposed to fly back home. I was very depressed when I knew this because I was totally in the mood to return home, I had my passport stamped, and was right by the gate waiting for it to open. Soon we knew that all flights were canceled and that we have to wait in the queue to make another reservation to return home, hopefully the next day. It was a very long, spiral queue that the one can’t see its beginning or end but at least the people, from all different nationalities, were actually able to stand in a queue! My colleagues and I took turns in standing in the queue waiting for our turn. During our stand in the queue, the Lufthansa employees kept assuring the passengers and answering their questions, and then they began to give us water, soda, and sandwiches, of course in addition to the coffee (the machines can make not only coffee but cappuccino, mocha etc.) that is always there, for free. They also distributed pillows and covers for those who needed them. As for families with children, they were allowed to wait in the first class lounges! We were lucky enough to skip the long queue as we weren’t in urgent need to return to Egypt the next day and so joined another queue (but we were lucky enough to be the first to stand in it) so that Lufthansa can make us a hotel reservation. They did make a reservation including dinner and breakfast, in addition to giving us a voucher for a taxi to get us to the hotel, which the taxi driver simply took without complaining or saying that he can take only cash. However to be fair to our taxi drivers, the driver behaved in this way because he is sure that he’d be able to refund his money. On our way out of the airport, they just made a sign on our exit stamp to cancel it so that we can return back to the German lands (Imagine how the Egyptians employees would have acted in a similar situation). So in short, everything was perfect but for the fact that we wouldn’t be home in the time we expected. However we can’t complain, because we met a lady at the airport who was off to see her sick mother and was crying as she might not be able to see her for that last time and at the hotel an American couple were on the phone the whole night trying to book a flight back home as their children were alone there. After passing by all this, we all started to think about passengers who were trapped in Egypt and about our situation if we were trapped in one of the “developing” counties, like Egypt. To mention just one point of comparison, Egypt air doesn’t provide its passengers with hotel reservation and so those who can’t afford staying in a hotel just have to wait in the airport or the streets! Ironically, someone told me that Egypt air was considering allowing passengers to pay for their stay during the crisis time through an installment plan!

* In reference to this movie or series, I don’t really remember, where one of the characters came recently from a European country and was still impressed with all what he saw there, that he used to start almost every sentence by saying “In Europe and the developed countries” followed by comparisons of here and there.