HARDIE’S HYPER-AWARD: for worst airline (and airport) of 2016 goes to…

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PEK gives new meaning to the term ‘layover”

…Air China, of course, and Beijing, for bad service above and beyond the call of duty, a total lack of concern for passenger comfort, and incompetence bordering on malpractice. For that honor, they not only had to totally change my return flight LAX-PEK-BKK, and do it not only with no prior notification, BUT NO NOTIFICATION AT ALL!

I caught it in plenty of time, though, worry-wart that I am. But if that wasn’t bad enough, the real problem was that the two flights didn’t even connect, the initial leg due to arrive in Beijing after the connecting flight has already left! Well, they must’ve been anxious to correct that little spot of bother, right? Yeah, right…

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No explanation necessary…

Out of the five options I could count in a quick look at the website, they offered me one, with a ten-hour layover in Beijing and arriving half a day later in LAX than originally planned—oh, boy. That took seventy minutes on Skype from Thailand, but better than nothing, until it showed up on the website with TWO returns from Beijing, one four hours later than the first. That’s the one I ended up with, of course, after another long talk…

And they should probably get some credit for my worst city to connect an international flight, also, Beijing, which shares the honor with Dhaka, Bangladesh. The reason for this honor is that it will likely take too long to make your connection, so you’ll probably miss your onward connection, unless you have a fourteen hour layover—funny how things work out! This is due to the excruciating inspection given all passengers, even those in transit, and who’ve already been inspected at the point of departure…

Even so, they have to do it again, with originating passengers coming from street-side, and the inspectors insist on pulling everything out, inspecting it, and even x-raying it again after that! They do it with attitude, too, just eating up their cop-like role-playing. The problem at Dhaka is different. Since Biman Bangladesh is too lame to give you a connecting boarding pass at the point of origin, you’ll have to do that in Dhaka…

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Waiting is the hardest part…

But that’s not the real problem. The real problem is that every concessionaire in the lounge wants to overcharge you, at prices higher than what is marked. “Local prices,” they insist. But they’re written in English! The only honest approach is to order up , then refuse to pay the higher price, leaving them holding the bag, so to speak, but you can’t really justify throwing good coffee away, now, can you?

There are other pissy attitudes in the world, of course, but these two take the cake for airports in the past year for me. Did I mention that the Beijing was absolutely and literally freezing at the end of October? I got the runs from the airline food, too, no fun. Caveat emptor…

 

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