Friday, October 17, 2008

More fun with Air France

The rituals with the wigs wasn’t the only ‘fun’ I had with Air France yesterday.

As I was heading to Ho Chi Minh City to be an honorary judge in the ASEAN Golden Melodies Festival, I didn't want to risk losing my suit if my bag went astray en route (both Paris and Bangkok have bad reputations for losing bags) so I packed my suit trousers in an overnight bag and carried my suit jacket on the plane.

When we arrived in HCMC yesterday I asked for my jacket back (one of the flight attendants had hung it up in a closet for me) but they couldn't find it. As the rest of the passengers left the plane they checked all the closets at the front and back of the plane, but still they couldn't find it.

So I was left on an empty plane, sans jacket, with the flight crew discussing amongst themselves where my jacket could possibly have disappeared to. Then one of them noticed a blue Air France steward's jacket hanging in one of the empty closets. Apparently the jacket didn't belong to any of the flight crew on board. It then dawned on everyone what had happened - one of the flight crew from Paris had got off in Bangkok and taken my jacket instead of his (they were both dark blue in colour).

As this flight crew was returning to Bangkok, they promised to find the steward and recover my jacket, and send it back to HCMC with a crew on Saturday (which was Air France’s next flight to HCMC).

That left me in a dilemma because I needed a jacket for last night, as the opening concert of the festival was going to be televised and I would be involved in making some presentations to the contestants. So although I really needed to have a couple of hours sleep before the festival opened, I had to spend the time chasing around HCMC looking for a jacket to fit me.

That wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Vietnamese men are much slimmer in build than most western men, and I couldn’t find a jacket to fit me. If it fitted across the shoulders and the arm length was right, I couldn’t button it up at the front. If it fitted around the chest, then the shoulders were too big and the arms too long. So I ended up having to buy one that fitted across the shoulders, but which I couldn’t button up at the front – at least that would look better on TV than one with arms that were too long.

The concert started at 8.30 pm and went for two and a half hours. By 9.30 pm I was having great difficulty staying awake. I had to keep suppressing yawns and forcing my eyes open whenever one of the cameras panned across the judging panel seated at the front. By 10.30 pm I felt I needed matchsticks to keep my eyes open. Somehow I managed to make it through to 11.00 pm when the concert finished. I was back at the hotel a little before midnight and I was asleep 10 seconds after my head hit the pillow.

PS (added 18 October): My jacket was delivered to the hotel at 5.00 pm on Saturday afternoon. Thanks Air France – that’s very efficient service given the number of pairs of hands that my jacket must have had to pass through from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City. Ironically if I had packed my suit in my suitpack as I normally do, my jacket wouldn’t have gone missing (because my suitpack arrived fine) – but alls well that ends well.

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