3.267 Fish

Cycle 3 – Item 267

28 (Fri) September 2012



aboard Korean Air – KE 689

-Incheon en route to Phnom Penh-


Research Trip to Cambodia + Lao PDR: Day 1 of 6

In transit, heading to Phnom Penh.  I’m a principal researcher in a long-term project sponsored by WHO to assess health legislation in countries across the Western Pacific Region, starting with Cambodia.  We will be meeting with key legal experts in the Ministry of Health and National Assembly to gather data.  Afterwards, we’ll drop by Vientiane to meet with the WHO Country Office about how to structure the engagement with Lao PDR.

I’d requested a front row seat, which miraculously ended up being empty on either side, making my seating area more spacious than it would’ve been in business class.

The in-flight meal was a choice of beef, chicken, or fish.  I chose the “fish,” which turned out to be a cod(ish) filet and vegetables in a tomato sauce with buttered potatoes.  While most tomato sauces taste “Italian” to me, I can’t bring myself to attribute the dish to Italian cuisine.  It was not good but passable, I suppose, as far as airplane food goes.

Moments prior to departure, after all the doors are closed and gates disconnected from the terminal, three Korean passengers suddenly storm to the front of the plane and start a heated discussion with the flight attendants.  They are members of a group tour.  One of their members is still on his way.  They are begging the crew to wait until he arrives.  The discussion takes 10 minutes, so we’re now 10 minutes delayed.  Request denied, they declare their desire to get off, explaining that they absolutely cannot leave without their missing member.   So, because an airline can’t keep a passenger on board who wishes to deplane prior to takeoff, the crew initiates disembarking procedures to reconnect the gates and reopen the doors, which takes 20 minutes, so we’re now 30 minutes delayed.  By this time, the missing member of the tour group shows up at the gate, demanding to be let on board.  Clearly, this was the intended objective of the tour group’s ploy, as evident in the relief and hope and glee in their faces.  The crew chief, presumably in communication with the captain, refuses to board the late member.  The remaining tour group members are then asked to leave, as per their request that had started this whole thing.  But they back down and take their seats, cancelling the request to deplane.  The discussion takes 10 minutes, so we’re now 40 minutes delayed.  The crew reinitiates the departure sequence, which takes 20 minutes, so we’re now 60 minutes delayed.  And finally, we depart, one hour later.

Among the many amazing things about this event: first, it’s that easy to hold an entire plane hostage; second, people are capable of being sociopathically selfish on such a grand scale; and third, Koreans, who constituted the vast majority of the other passengers, are too patient or too civil or too timid to make a peep in protest even in the face of mind-blowing bullshit – except for one guy in business class who kept yelling that he had the power to deny them entry into Cambodia upon arrival.



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