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Around the world in a daze

Dhaka Airport Antics

BANGLADESH | Tuesday, 15 February 2011 | Views [471]

Leaving Bangladesh is an adventure all of its own.

Outside the airport is chaos. Visitors must bay an entry fee to the airport if they want to wave off their loved ones, so most stand in front of the entrances having emotional farewells and blocking the doors. Usually this isn’t a problem for me because I’m ushered through the first class door by some helpful security guard despite having bought the cheapest of cheap Air Asia tickets.

As soon as you enter the door you queue again to put all bags through a scanner, which constantly breaks down and the officers are usually asleep.

Once you find your airline check-in there is another series of queues. Usually I manage to skip these again by being moved to the first class queue or once they opened a booth especially for me and closed it after I had finished.

Last time I was forced to queue with the others and luckily I discovered the queues are not as long as they look, it’s just that Bangladeshis are trolley mad. Every person has to have a trolley, because chances are if you’re rich enough to travel, you’ve never had to carry anything in your life, someone else has always done it for you. Even those just travelling with hand luggage take a trolley.

After check-in, they leave the trolleys scattered around the desks, so reaching your airline assistant, is a bit of an obstacle course.

Once you have checked in, there isn’t an awful lot to do. There are some uncomfortable red plastic chairs that probably came from another airport when they decided to renovate 20 years ago. There is a dimly lit hall with some very suspect food places and a couple of duty free shops (one of the few places in Dhaka you can purchase alcohol).

I’ve recently discovered a restaurant that serves safe (I hope) food and offers a vague sanctuary before the flight, apart from the waiting staff attempting to engage in conversation.

The flight itself is interesting and unlike any other flight I’ve ever caught. When I fly back to Bangladesh, I feel like I’m already in the country as soon as I board the plane. The men stare at you as if you’re naked, the children as if you’re a ghost and the women as if you’re Angelina Jolie there to steal their babies.

Despite buses and trains having the same seating order, people spend far too long walking up and down the aisles trying to find their seats and inevitably most will sit in the wrong one until the flight attendants ask them to move, which they will reluctantly do. Most are business men or travel in families with one bossy son in his 20s who will tell everyone where to sit (usually wrong) and even what to eat.

Almost every second man will have a mobile phone out calling or texting. When the flight attendant tells them to turn it off, they slide it into their shirt pocket and pull it out again the minute she walks away.

I like to sit and read trying to block out the sound of attendant needed bells ringing for nonsense reasons, but me pulling my book right up to my face apparently isn’t a clear enough indication I want to be left alone. The man sitting next to me will always move closer and closer to me then start asking what my country is, have I got a husband and what are my views on Ricky Ponting.

After four hours the flight lands and the flight attendants look as if they’ve aged about 4 years and I am left wondering if they benefits of my holiday have already evaporated.


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