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First there was rain, then there was a rainbow, but alas, there was no pot of gold.
I expected my transit experience from Sri Lanka to Australia to be painless and enjoyable, especially because I elected to skip the budget airline route and spend slightly more to fly Singapore Airlines - considered one of the world’s best. Of course, the universe doesn’t like to make things easy for people, so this flight scenario was actually the worst I’ve had thus far on my travels.
When I checked in at the airport in Colombo last Wednesday morning, I was surprised to be hit with a hefty fee for my board bag, considering Singapore Airlines has always had a surfboard-friendly reputation. I accepted the fact that I’d have to pay, but I wanted to make sure that my bags would be transferred through to my connecting flight from Singapore to Sydney... and the answer was no. So here I was, standing in the airport, dreading the fact I would have to collect my boards in the Singapore airport, find somewhere to store them overnight, and then lug them to another terminal to check in for my next flight. No bueno.
After a one-hour flight delay and four hours in the air, I got to Changi International, went through customs, and headed to the baggage carousels. I grabbed my backpack and walked over to the oversize bag area, relieved to spot my board bag... only to find that it was absolutely SOAKING wet. It had been raining heavily in Colombo, but this wasn’t like the bag had gotten wet on its way from the airport building to be loaded onto the airplane, it was as if the bag had been thrown into a swimming pool. The bag itself was completely drenched, and all of the contents of the bag (clothing, towels, books, shoes, swimsuits, and of course surfboards) were saturated. As I attempted to pull one of the books out, it simply fell apart in my hands. I tried to flip the bag over to the wheeled side, but the water made it about 40 pounds heavier than before, when it was already 70 pounds, so this was a difficult endeavor. When I managed to move the bag ever so slightly, there was a puddle of water where it had been sitting.
I sat on the airport floor, dumbfounded, for about five minutes, when I mustered up the energy (anger-fueled adrenaline, perhaps), to haul my stuff over to the nearest information desk. I calmly explained the entire situation to the Changi airport employee, and he helped me get into contact with a representative from Singapore Airlines. With great difficulty, I made it up an escalator, dripping board bag and all, to the airline’s customer service counter. I once again shared my saga, to which the Singapore Airlines rep responded with profuse apologies. I was so taken aback by her willingness to resolve my issues that I was just speechless. We figured the best solution would be to check in my bags from the terminal we were already in, even though my next flight would be leaving from a terminal about a 10 minute walk away. Not only were there no more fees, but I also was able to avoid the nearly impossible task of dragging the bag all the way to the next terminal! For years, Singapore’s Changi Airport has been considered #1 in the world, and now, I definitely see why!
Every transfer and flight thus far had gone a little bit too smoothly, so I guess it was inevitable that would something would happen on my last international flight for a while. After a lovely day of wandering around Singapore, I was so antsy to get over to Australia, but of course, there needed to be one more SNAFU, so my flight to Sydney was delayed about four hours, but don’t worry, the airline gave us a $15 voucher to the overpriced food court as an extremely generous consolation prize. The good news is, the bag dried out during the next day, and both my surfboards and I have made it safely to Australia. My first few days here have been relatively relaxed, with some fun little waves, and my first surf in a wetsuit since June. Brrr! Its springtime here, and the weather is super similar to San Diego, so I’m hoping things will warm up soon!