12 months ago, (19th August 2018), I experienced the worst flight of my life, with Etihad, from Abu Dhabi to Perth.

What a cock up of an airport is Abu Dhabi, a total shambles!  In the transit lounge, people from many flights, queued up to be x-ray security processed, with nowhere near enough facilities to accommodate the sheer numbers, although it was interesting to observe that anyone obviously Arabic ( in dress), was waved through ahead of everybody else. Announcements, in strangulated English,  were, like instructions in Chinese-made assembly kits, illogical and headache inducing. Passengers would look at each other with “WTF?” written all over their faces.

Finally through to the departure gate, then onto a bus transferring us to the aircraft, as we boarded the plane, we found the air conditioning wasn’t running, worse, we had to wait an extra 50 minutes for people who were caught in the transit lounge melee.

Then life got interesting. A woman came down the aisle, stopped were I was sitting and looked at me in obvious wide-eyed panic. Though not dressed to indicate her faith, in what I think was a strong Turkish accent, she stood in the aisle saying the seat next to me, the window seat, was hers, but I would have to go somewhere else. “Ah why?” said I. 5/1″ in all directions, she literally started to shake and tremble, calling out to crew members in an increasingly terrified voice, that I needed to be moved.

Two crew members rushed over. I said I wasn’t moving and that I specifically wanted an aisle seat, as it was the only way you could get any air on their air ventless planes, never mind the stark reality that the air conditioning wasn’t working! I did feel sorry for the crew, they were nice people. They found a seat for her (the plane was about 80% full). As they moved her, I said, “For God’s sake, please don’t put anyone beside me!” They smiled and didn’t.

And still we sat in about 40c with no ventilation. The Captain was a serious Arabic sort of chap, definitely not a relaxed, Pom, Yank, Kiwi or Oz, announcing there was a delay – we knew that. By now, agitated, hot, stressed people were using the in-flight magazines as fans. An engineer (his vest said so), came on to the plane three times. Now and then a trickle of more passengers would arrive, as they were cleared through the bloody transit lounge.

Then the coup de grace – two Australian women got on board, one, the original bogan – surely she’d got lost in the transit lounge at Denpasar and found herself in Abu Dhabi? As luck would have it, they sat in the seats in front of me. Then Bogan got up, said, “It won’t fucking fit!” and started kicking the bags she’d put under the seat in front of her! I don’t think the crew knew what to do – they, like the rest of us, just gaped. The ugly Australian in full performance mode.

Eventually Bogan sat down and said to her friend, “I still feel terrible.” Then she began to cough and splutter, “I hope I make it!” she said. I silently hoped for quite the opposite.

The plane took off, but it took around 40 minutes for the temperature to come down to bearable. Dinner was served, along with copious water – we were all dehydrated.

Immediately after dinner, Bogan, without so much as a polite word, or nod to me, lay her seat right back. Then the cretin lent forward to see her screen – there was nobody in the seat in front of her, so she had all the room in the world. I called for more wine. Thinking, ”God, she’s allowed to vote and might even reproduce!”

About an hour later Bogan stood up and promptly collapsed in the aisle. Crew members rushed over and started giving her oxygen, then dragged her up to the gallery area. I must admit I did think, “Oh, she’s not going to make it!” Then I thought, “Oh God, they’ll go back to that hideous airport! Live bitch, live!”

She did. They moved her friend and she lay down across the two seats, moaning, coughing and perspiring.

About three hours out of Perth, I began to feel unwell, worse, it became obvious things were a bit queasy below and I was haunted by the thought of running for the loo, dying of embarrassment.

Somehow, with the aid of water and Ibuprofen, I got through. As we flew over Perth, said Bogan told her friend, who had now rejoined her, that she was feeling much better. I bloody wasn’t!

Bogan was first out of her seat, long before we’d finished taxiing. She actually got down on the aisle, on all fours, complaining to her friend that everything was jammed in under the seat!

I passed her in the airport arrival corridor, she’d stopped walking and was breathing heavily and moaning, her friend was nowhere to be seen.

Eventually, we’re all at customs, Bogan saw her friend ahead of her and called out, “I’m not feeling well, I feel faint!”

All hell broke loose, as border patrol people came running. “Are you feeling sick? Where’s your card? You’ve written down you’re feeling fine, has this just started? You fainted on the plane?! Right, you’re coming with us!”

If I ever see Bogan, or Etihad, or Abu Dhabi again, I swear I’ll kill!

Greg Ross

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