You are never fully prepared for a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight. That’s because anything can happen before, hopefully not during, or after the flight lands, safely. That is if you are lucky enough. Or know the exact number of prayers to keep your nerves in control.
Because as it seems, the PIA management is completely fine with the way things are moving along, debts and untrained staff notwithstanding.
A little off track I’m going to go. But there is a point to all of this. On February 3rd it rained in Islamabad after a three-day dry spell. Being on a media summit with colleagues we were happy about the rain, as Karachiites usually are. But what we didn’t know was that we’d be enjoying the rain on our plane ride all the way back home as well.
The rain went on even while we were boarding our flight (PK309) to Karachi. My colleagues and I found our seats and put our handbags inside the overhead compartment. But there was one problem. There was water dripping from the ceiling of the plane. Not like droplets, but dripping as if there is a hole in the ceiling.
We looked at each other and then at the air hostess, who conveniently retorted, “Haan toh? Peechay beth jayein.” And we moved a row back, still appalled.
Visibly angry with her reply but with his wits intact, one passenger turned towards us, and said: “Haan theek hai na ... Nahatay huay jayengay.”
Within a minute there were complaints from other passengers too. An airhostess was asked to check what was happening. While trying to calm other passengers down, she herself eventually got annoyed as a few drops fell on her neatly coiffed hair.
Amidst all that was happening, it was shocking to eventually find out that it was a double deck aircraft, Boeing 747; an international airplane which was not even in proper condition to fly domestically.
If that seems like the end of the story, it is not. We were ‘requested’ to move upstairs which we did, not before taking out our handbags from the overhead compartment and found that there was water inside the compartment too. Our complaining fell on deaf ears, as the airhostesses continued staring us with that bewildered ‘Haan toh’ expression.
With drenched bags in hands we moved upstairs and by this time the plane was on the runway. The air hostess asked us not to open the overhead compartment and keep the bags with us. Within a few minutes, the overhead compartment fell open, with a loud thud, making a passenger behind our row let out a shriek, which provided much needed entertainment, if there wasn’t enough available already.
Landing back home safely, thankfully, and laughing about the whole plane ride, the only thing I didn’t find funny was the fact that PIA once had a superb record of having a well-trained staff, a fleet of well working aero planes, as well as known for establishing 36 famous airlines, including Emirates and Singapore Airlines.
Somehow, for the past few years, the only news coming out of PIA pertains to the fact that it is gradually turning into a local bus. This gradual degradation happened because of the ever increasing cases of mismanagement of funds, and corruption.
Though the Supreme Court took notice of that, there seems to be no immediate solution in sight. Apart from the fact that the PIA management needs to wake up from its slumber and restore whatever is left of the national carrier, before it becomes a laughing stock internationally. If it isn’t already.