Having gone through forced separation from PIA for a few months, not out of my free will but out of compulsion had to travel by PIA today.
If I say during my separation period, I had missed PIA. I would be being honest and truthful. PIA is national pride and seeing its logo flashing anywhere does bring a longing smile.
Thus when I found a PIA plane without its logo, I was distressed quite a lot. Well the whole experience was exceptionally enlightening!
My sleep was disturbed by an SMS at 0500 hours that proclaimed:
Dear Customer, this is a polite reminder. Your flight PK/MAY is on time at 0955 hours. Have a pleasant flight. Thank you for your choice of the National carrier.
PIA Contact Center 111-786-786
Well what is this! The sceptic within me screamed suspicion and sabotage. The optimist within me pleaded for leniency and clemency.
Anyhow got to the airport.
Wondered why while checking in at Lahore airport for non Pakistan airlines, we stand in a straight line. With PIA, we stand anywhere but in a straight line. The PIA check in counter was in a mess with people jumping in from anywhere to check in till an iron lady restored order.
Luck came visiting! The man at the counter recognised me from my days of being a frequent flyer with PIA. Was so delighted to see me that I got a LEG SPACE seat and a pass to business class lounge when my ticket was Economy Class.
When he said PIA misses me, I wanted to say PIA misses its complaining critics- incredible! But my ego had been massaged and the Pakistani within me was floating on the clouds!
He made sure I was escorted to the lounge. Maybe he remembered my previous tantrums at issues unimportant uncounted in the past.
I sat in the lounge being served and looked after. I had many mails to reply and was calmly confidently that the ever late PIA will let me reply to all my unanswered e-mails.
Devastated I was when the boarding was announced sharp at 9 am. I consoled myself that boarding will take ages but 20 minute later was rushing to the bus as one of the last passengers.
The fully loaded bus stopped by a plane that had blue wings. On it was written something non-English in blue and yellow. I refused to get down and shouted.
Where is PIA?
The driver shouted back get out, this is your plane.
Others were leaving the bus but I sat there frozen!
The driver shouted again this time threatening I will miss my flight if I did not get on to the plane.
His threat did the trick. I ran up the stairs or steps with my eyes half closed.
Has PIA been taken over by a blue company? Where is the green logo? Where is my country’s pride? Am I on the right plane? Is the plane hijacked? Will it crash?
I screamed as I entered the plane. The crew half Pakistani, half not told me to sit silently.
Silence at the slaughter of my national pride! I wanted to shake the crew for an answer.
As I sat on the seat, I was flabbergasted. Something non English was written on the seats.
What is it? I said to the air-hostess.
She smiled and said, as we aspire to get great people like you on board again, temporary inconvenience is apologised.
This is not a PIA plane-but a plane on lease!
The plane on lease was an old plane, there was hardly any leg space. The announcement in an alien accent caused laughters loudly. I looked forward to the dried cookie and butter-less and chicken less sandwiches but got yummy snacks. Yes, haunted by MH disappearance, whenever the plane turned turbulent silently, I prayed passionately!
Have to say though the plane and crew on lease adhered to punctuality. Only if the plane had PIA logo- I would have been perfectly pleased at this rare achievement.
PIA: I realised today, I may condemn and curse, but like the cricket team that gives me woes and wonders, I love you loads too.
What else can I do- you are part of my nationality!
May you be the best soon and all your planes have your logos!