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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Flight Fright

I'm in Tokyo again, but only for a week. Had to settle some things before flying back to Malaysia next Tuesday to continue preparations for Ming Jin's new film, WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER (I'm producing and editing).

My friend Peng Shien had mentioned that I've been flying so much these days that these long airplane trips seem to me as common as taking a bus or the commuter trains. When I reached my room in Tokyo, I immediately received the news of the plane crash at Amsterdam. A Turkish Airlines plane had slammed onto the ground while trying to land at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, killing 9, injuring 50.

When I logged onto Facebook chat, a brief online conversation with Sebastian led to him suddenly mentioning about the accident. My initial reaction was just a "yeah, damn", and then remarking about how I was at the Schiphol airport too a little more than a week ago during my Berlin-London trip.

It took a while for me to suddenly remember an incident which I've originally dismissed as nothing more than a mild annoyance. And as things started to sink in, I felt some sense of slight discomfort (which prompted me to post this tweet). Last Monday, during my flight from London to Amsterdam (had to stop by for transit before going back to Malaysia), my plane had to delay its landing. The reasons cited from the captain were:

1) the rainy weather
2) some sort of slight malfunctioning with one of the gears

Due to the latter, they had to take precautions and declare an 'unsafe' landing, which, the captain announced, was NOT an emergency landing (I assumed it was something less serious). He then apologized for the delay, and would go through the procedures to land again.

Moments later, I noticed that a woman sitting a few rows in front of me was trembling furiously, she was crying. A male passenger nearby tried to comfort her, but to no avail, a cabin attendant approached her and spoke to the woman. The woman frightened, the cabin attendant, in soothing tones, assured her that everything would be fine, it was nothing serious, the pilots were just taking safety precautions before landing. The plane was working perfectly, just that the light for one of the gears wasn't flashing or something. The cabin attendant was speaking quite softly, so I could barely hear the explanation in detail.

Instead of fear, what I felt then was mild annoyance. The delay would mean that I have less time in the airport, no time for some proper dinner before continuing my way back to Malaysia? I'm never a great fan of plane food.

When we touched down not too long after that, the passengers broke into applause, I did the same. And then I rushed through the Schiphol airport to catch the other plane to KL, aside from texting someone about this while I was boarding the next plane, I have completely banished this incident from my mind.

Strange that how all of a sudden, after reading about the tragedy at the airport, what happened to me last week seemed a bit less inconsequential.