Who would have thought that when I stepped on the plane to go to Lahore, Pakistan and back, I wouldn’t be coming home until more than 24 hours later!
As I mentioned in my roster post of August, it was supposed to be a quick trip to LHE and back. The flight is around 3 hours each way, so not too long but still sufficient time to do the service. We had a full cabin in business class so we were busy, but since we departed Dubai around 3am, plenty of the passengers chose to sleep and didn’t have breakfast.
As we were approaching Lahore, the captain made a PA that the weather was very bad, thunderstorms and lots of rain around the area of the airport. Amongst the crew we made jokes that we would be turning around and going back to Dubai instead of landing….if only we knew what was to come!
Shortly after the purser informed us all that instead of landing in LHE, we would be diverting to MUX (Multan, another city in Pakistan around 30 mins flight time from LHE). The captain also made another announcement to inform all of our passengers, who of course were not very pleased!
Once we landed in Multan, we had no idea how long we would be staying on ground or if the passengers would be offloaded there. We ended up serving so much tea and coffee in business class that we ran out of cups! Luckily after around an hour on ground the weather had improved slightly and we were ready to head back to LHE. The flight was less than 30 minutes and we stayed strapped in to our jump seats the whole time, so at least we finally got to sit down for a moment!
After disembarkation, what usually happens on a turnaround is that the cleaners come on, and we prepare the galley and cabin for the return sector. This means unloading all the unused meals from the ovens and loading the new ones, preparing the seats with blankets, headsets, water bottles, menus, etc. After that we start our safety and security search. We didn’t even get the chance to start the security search before the purser made a PA for everyone to come to the front….
We were no longer legal to fly back to Dubai, as our duty had started in the middle of the night and we now had been on the aircraft for too long. That meant we would have to stay in Lahore! None of us were particularly pleased about that to be perfectly honest, as we all had plans for the day ahead. Our captain liaised with the ground staff for a hotel to be organised for us, and we waited around in the airport for a while whilst everything got sorted. Unfortunately we had one Indian crew member with us who wasn’t allowed to enter Pakistan, so she had to stay in an airport lounge for the next 10 hours (in uniform!) while we headed off to the hotel.
The weather looked just like an English summer…rain, rain and more rain!
Once we checked in and were given our rooms, we headed up, feeling very strange not having a suitcase as you normally would on a layover!
Nobody had thought to bring anything with them (spare make-up, underwear, toothbrushes…) so it was a bit strange. Luckily we carry our crew pyjamas on every flight (although it’s not required on a turnaround but it’s just easier to leave them in your cabin bag) so I at least had something to change into. Having started our day at midnight Dubai time, I was feeling rather tired, so got straight into bed ready for a sleep. I had to use my phone sparingly as I didn’t bring a phone charger with me either!
After a good few hours of sleep, it was time for some food! I’d barely eaten on the plane so I ordered palak paneer, which is a mild spinach and paneer cheese curry. When it arrived on a trolley I thought they’d mistakenly brought up enough for a family of four! There was so much rice, raita, salad, condiments and even a paratha the size of a plate! I felt bad leaving so much food as it was delicious, if only I’d had some tupperware to take it back on the plane with me! 😀
Before long our 10 hours in Lahore was up, and I managed to borrow a phone charger from one of the girls so I had 15% battery to see me through til we landed back in Dubai! Luckily we’d managed to get a toothbrush from the aircraft so I could at least go back with clean teeth, even if I had only a few scraps of make-up left on my face! An adventure to say the least.
Once we got back to the aircraft, everything was as we left it (luckily we’d prepared the cabin before we disembarked so that was out of the way) and new catering had brought in. Our passengers were very happy to finally be boarding, after they’d had more than 15 hours delay. A fair few even commented on how lucky we were to have stayed in such a nice hotel….if only they knew I’d much rather have been back home in my own bed!
After a short flight we finally landed safe and sound back in Dubai…around 20 hours later than we had originally thought. Some lessons I’ve learned from that unexpected layover – always carry a spare pair of underwear, some make-up and a phone charger, even if you only think you’re going to Doha and back!
Unfortunately due to the extended timings my roster was changed, and I was removed from my BKK – HKG flight and given 5 days of “can-use” instead. I was put on a London flight straight away, and now I’ve been given an Istanbul turnaround tomorrow. Not ideal, but that’s crew life for you I suppose!