Monday, December 19, 2005

Qatar Airways, Dick Cheney and Sand, Sand, Sand

The flight back was a nightmare. Cutting a long story short, A flight that was bad enough already got worse when we started circling the coast of Oman near Al-Bustan for about half an hour. There were a number of interesting characters on the plane, one of whom was one of the Omani national football team players, and another was an Omani girl from my uni (if ur reading this, say hi :P). Anyway, what is supposed to be a one-hour flight quickly became a 2 hour one, and people were getting agitated. The omani football dude asked the air-hostess what was the hold-up, and she said we would land now.
But we didn't. We circled that area a few more times before the captain made an announcement: there had been an emergency in Seeb International, and we were being diverted to Al-Ain. Al-Ain! I hadn't slept all night, everytime I even closed my eyes the dreams would start, and here we were flying BACK to Al-Ain!
So we fly to Al-Ain. I didnt even know Al-Ain had an 'international airport', so I wasn't too suprised to see that the 'airport' wasn't much more than a hangar and an airstip in the midst of miles and miles of beautiful, unspoiled desert sands. It would have been wonderful, if it wasn't so pathetic.
So we're all sitting in the plain in Al-Ain. Tired, hungry, annoyed, but for some reason everyone was in good spirits. The air hostesses and host-dudes were chatting with everyone, being as helpful as they could. They opened the plane doors and stuff so we could get some fresh air. People started gathering in groups and chatting and stuff, it was actually kinda nice. Somehow, it felt like we were hostages, but in a really relaxed situation, lol.
News on the street (or on the aisle, in this case) was that a military plane had landed in Oman, but landed 'badly' and there were ambulances and stuff. Later I find out that Dick Cheney had made a suprise visit to Oman on his way to Iraq in some military plane. So its like everyone bugger off, clear the airways, close the airport, Big Dick is coming through. Why didn't he go to some Omani military airstrip? Why weren't we diverted to closer airstrips? God knows. Qatar Airways lost a ton of money on each passenger because of this unplanned detour - something like 200-300 rials per person on that plane. Who's carrything those costs? Qatar Airways. Not the airport, or Big Dick himself, but Qatar Airways. Madness really.
Anyway, after some 2 hours in Al-Ain, we finally flew back to Oman. I think by that time I had hit the 30 hours without sleep point (can't sleep while travelling), and I was beyond the point I wasn't tired anymore. Got home....slept anyway. :p

Ahhh, good to be back!

EDIT: oh, and the worst part is, at the END of the flight, the pilot is like 'Thank you for flying Qatar Airways, we hope you enjoyed your journey with us.' :p

PS - All the blame of this incident goes to Dick Cheney and the Oman Airport authorities. Qatar Airways did a great job with us and have no blame in this incident - just to make that clear. They're awesome :D

Posted by illogicist at 7:08 AM


  1. Blogger Ali posted at 12/19/2005 01:26:00 PM  
    Ya man, that guy is such a dick.
    They even blocked the roads for him..
    btw welcome back
  2. Blogger NiGhTFaCe posted at 12/19/2005 01:45:00 PM  
    Welcome back :)
  3. Blogger illogicist posted at 12/20/2005 12:35:00 AM  
    Just in from the Omani rumour-factory: Dick Cheney made a sudden stop in Oman because he had a minor heart attack or some problem with his heart above Omani airspace, so he was rushed to hospital here. That would explain a few things:
    1) Why he landed in Oman
    2) Why it was such a suprise
    3) Why they closed the roads and that
    4) Why the initial rumour I heard while still on the plane was that there was an emergency landing of a military plane, with ambulances and that involved.

    Can anyone confirm/deny this rumour?
  4. Blogger PizzaQueen posted at 12/20/2005 03:31:00 AM  
    No surprise really, the day before all knew in town.
    BTW why you choose Qatar Airways, is the best way to suicide.
    I remember once after 20 min flight we went back to Doha cause power not enough, man I thought my end had come.
  5. Blogger muscati posted at 12/21/2005 11:33:00 AM  
    Dude this sucks. Sucks even more that you guys were lied to. Dick Cheney's visit wasn't a surprise. We all knew about it a few days before. It was announced in the US press he was going Pakistan and the Middle East. He didn't come to Oman from Iraq. He came here from Pakistan. And the day before it there were ads in the paper that it's illegal to park cars on the side of the road. And what sucks even more is that he had to cut short his visit here and run back to the states because of some crucial vote in Congress which was coming up too close to call so he was needed there to cast the deciding vote in case it comes out a tie.

    If the Omani civil aviation authorities knew in advance that the US vice president was coming and they thought for his safety they need to shut down the airport, couldn't they have alerted airlines to change their schedules in advance?

    And people wonder why I'm so pissed off all the time!
  6. Blogger PizzaQueen posted at 12/21/2005 10:14:00 PM  
    No we are not surprised, you sAx all the time.
    But this is Oman just relax and get used to it, no need to be pissed off.
  7. Blogger illogicist posted at 12/22/2005 12:07:00 AM  
    Yeah, you're right Muscati, I was talking to my friend who just flew in from Texas, and he said yeah he knew Dick Cheney was coming to Oman - was suprised I didnt know. The UK media doesnt really cover these things, so I didnt know it would happen. But you would think that the omani civil aviation authorities would, and would make at least some provision for the people flying in at that time - we flew all the way to muscat and back to al-ain. I think there was another aircraft diverted to al-ain and 2 to abu dhabi.
    And the stupidest thing is that when we tried to complain to the airport, they told us to blame qatar airways for the whole thing, and take it up with them.

    btw, I started Shantaram at last, and I think its great - different from what I expected, a lot better. Its been about 3 days and Im about 300 pages in.
  8. Blogger PizzaQueen posted at 12/23/2005 12:28:00 AM  
    So when are we going
  9. Blogger illogicist posted at 12/23/2005 11:55:00 AM  
    dunno, u gotta tell Billy to convince me, and make him come along also!

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