Sunday, November 29, 2009

My Firefly Ordeal

I'm back in Penang this long weekend to see my family. Brothers and all are all coming back too so it was a family reunion that I couldn't miss.

Princess decided to tag along since she wanted to attend her cousin's wedding in Penang this weekend. Rather than drive back this time and risk being stuck in a huge jam, I decided to fly. And in deciding to fly, I decided to give Firefly a shot after the many urgings from my Dad to try it. The big plus of Firefly of course is that it leaves from Subang Airport which is a lot nearer than KLIA or LCCT.

Princess doesn't like Firefly. She had a really bad experience last year and she swore never to take it again but since I really wanted to try it, she decided to give it a second chance. I booked a flight for 11.50AM on Friday morning.

Just when we were about to leave for the airport... say at around 9.30AM we got an SMS from Firefly saying that the flight had been delayed an hour from 11.50AM to 12.50PM.

We were glad Firefly let us know before we actually got to the airport so we happily called our taxi driver to tell him to pick us up later while we got a bit more sleep.

We reached the airport at around 11.30AM and went to check-in. Just when we got to the check-in counter, we saw an announcement that said the flight had been delayed a further 1 and a half hours to 2.20PM.

Princess and I were a bit annoyed but we decided to just chill and let it go. After all, the reason they gave for the delay was that they were having problems with the plane so I'm happy to wait a bit longer until they fix the plane, for safety's sake. We went to the pub to have lunch and decided to hang out there using their wi-fi until 2.20PM.

Then just shortly after, say about 12-1 something I got another text from Firefly saying that the flight had been delayed to 3PM.

I went to the counter furious. Wanting to know what the hell was going on but I wasn't the only one. Lots of people were queuing up at the counter making complaints, trying to see what they can do. It seemed that it wasn't just the Penang flight that was rescheduled and delayed. The other flights to Singapore, Langkawi and all these other places were retimed too.

By 1.30PM or so, the flight had been delayed to 4.50PM. Our 11.50AM flight delayed to 4.50PM which would make it 5 hours. I called my Dad to tell him this and he was like "Wtf?".

I asked the Firefly staff if they could guarantee us that 4.50PM was to be the last change but they couldn't. Because I didn't want to potentially wait until nightfall for the flight to come, I decided to try booking MAS from KLIA. There was a 4.10PM flight on MAS but economy class was fully booked. The only seats left were Business Class I was forced to take the two Business Class Tickets back.

I reached Penang on the MAS flight at 5PM and looked at the Arrivals screen only to see that my Firefly flight was delayed from 4.50PM to 8PM Arrival. That would make it 7 hours before I could get on the Firefly plane and fly back to Penang.

I was so glad I ditched the Firefly ticket and took another flight back.

Firefly promised to refund me my tickets but they said they will take 14 working days - 2 months to do it. Can you believe that? I think that's just unreasonably long. Not to mention the extra costs I had to incur, taking a cab from home to Subang Airport, then another one to KLIA. Each cab ride cost me like RM75 - RM90.

And above all this, the most important of all was time cost.

So you can imagine how furious I was. I went on a freaking Twitter rampage man. Tweeting all about it.

Then a lot of people started Re-tweeting my tweets.

And I also saw a lot of other Twitterers even on other Firefly flights tweeting about their bad experiences in flying Firefly including Elaine Daly herself who happened to be flying to Singapore that day.

Man I went on a freaking Twitter rampage but after a while I managed to cool down after relaxing a bit in the MAS Business Class lounge at KLIA while waiting for my flight back.

Had some Vietnamese noodles there to feed the hungry and angry man.

Now it's been more than a day since the incident and I have SIGNIFICANTLY cooled down. If you notice, I hardly blog anything bad about any brands. I just don't like to flame people or brands because behind every brand is a company that hires people who have families that depend on their jobs. I think it's not a nice thing to do but I felt this one really pushed me over the limit.

Then again, perhaps it's just bad luck on Firefly's side. Bad luck that their plane had problems on a busy weekend. I kinda put myself in their situation for a while trying to think how I could've handled it better than they did but I couldn't immediately think of anything. They did issue an apology in the press a day later.

One thing I think they could do to turn this crisis into an opportunity to make good isn't just to apologize but to somehow make it up to the people who were affected by this.

For me it's simple. I just want my refund quick.

And finally, while I've told you guys about this really horrible experience here. I'm going to be objective about this and tell you that I was at a friend's birthday party today telling everyone there about my bad experience.

There were a few of them there who told me they regularly flew Firefly and they typically didn't have any problems with it. Plus they said it's just a lot more convenient. Not just because Subang Airport is nearer but the time they take to Taxi the plane is a lot less since they don't have much air traffic there. So they generally had good experiences with Firefly.

So the truth is because I still hear good things about them, I may fly Firefly again one day (unless they piss me off again by not refunding me or do something else to upset me). I'll probably give them a second chance so if you have other booked flights with Firefly, don't worry. I may just be one of the unlucky people.

I'm not sure if I can convince Princess to do it again though. She wasn't happy that afternoon. I think she was thinking "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Disneyland Hong Kong Part 2

Okay Day 2 at Disneyland Hong Kong.

Here are the pictures.

1) Was down by 9AM for breakfast in the Enchanted Garden restaurant in Disneyland Hotel. Princess is never usually up so early on weekends but traveling with Ming is like that. Ming demands that everyone is up early so that they can get more done.

In fact he initially ordered everyone to be downstairs for breakfast by 8AM but the Disney Cast Members saved us by telling us that the park only opens at 10AM anyway. So Ming let us sleep an hour more.

We got a nice little round table for ourselves.

Then went on to the buffet line to stock up our plates.

They had everything from Japanese food to Mickey Mouse pancakes.

This was what Mike was having for breakfast.

Halfway during breakfast, Minnie came by to say good morning and take pictures with us.

I think Minnie had a bit of a crush on Mike. She saw Mike just sitting down on the table while the rest of us were up taking pictures with her so she went over and gave him a hug right in front of Xiaxue.

Mickey later came over and this everyone ratted Mike out. We all told Mickey that Mike was flirting with Minnie and Mickey took revenge by giving Xiaxue a kiss.

2) We quickly ended breakfast and headed to the park.
But before we left, Princess and I took this picture right outside Enchanted Garden. I like this picture. So nais.

and this is Ringo looking very underdressed for winter.

3) Went for a few rides in the park. Starting with Space Mountain which was a fun rollercoaster.
4) Estee bought herself a big Disney glove and we were playing with it while queuing to ride Space Mountain.

Princess and Estee with the big hand.

Me and Ming having a serious handshake.

5) Then our turn came to ride the rollercoaster. I kept telling the rest that it wasn't a scary ride. I mean scary rollercoasters to me are those with big loops, corkscrews and huge drops. The Space Mountain had none of that. It was just a lot of sharp turns and moving up and down. Just a lot of good fun. Not scary at all.

Judging by the pictures though, not everyone agreed with me.

Check out Ming and Estee in the front row. Ming looks like he's blasting off into space.

and this is the picture of the rest of us.

Princess and I were in the front row. Then right behind us is Ringo and Redmummy, blocked by my big fat head. And on the last row is Xiaxue and Mike.

Xiaxue wasn't pleased. She came out from Space Mountain cursing loudly "WHO SAID IT WASN'T SCARY... WHO!"

I acted like I was invisible.

6) We went for a few more rides and performances after that. One of my favourite rides is "Stitch Encounter" where they got a cartoon of Stitch to interact with the audience.

The cartoon is controlled by someone hiding behind the screen or something and he made really cute expressions.

Wish I could've taken pictures of that but no photography was allowed inside.

7) Went on for the Buzz Lightyear ride.

This is me trying to look like the green alien.

and this is me and Princess trying to look like the green alien.

and Princess here trying to look like Buzz Lightyear getting a briefing from Star Command.

The ride is this game where you go around in this ride and shoot targets with your laser guns. Ming and Estee were fiercely competitive in this game.

Managed to get them out of their competitive spirit for a few seconds to take this picture.

Princess here trying to look Mrs Smith-ish.

And me here just looking like a boy with a plastic toy gun.

8) Went to see a few more things. Took a raft across the river.

To go up Tarzan's treehouse.

9) Walked past a homeless man.

HAHA nono he's not homeless. There are no homeless people in Disneyland. He's just a guy taking a nap.

10) Then we went to take some pictures with Pooh!!!

I thought he was really adorable...

until I saw him hug Princess. *jealous*

I'm watching you POOH!!!!

11) Princess and me in front of the Disneyland Castle.

12) Princess, Ringo and me.

13) Spent the rest of the day going on some more rides in the park and a great deal of it shopping for Disneyland Souvenirs.

Went for dinner at the Christmas Buffet at Disney's Hollywood Hotel.

They had these little cute Mickey Mouse chairs on the dinner table.

Lots of great food at the buffet. I remember the lamb and the beef being absolutely fantastic!

Had Sashimi and all that too but my favourite of the night... was the ice-cream machine for dessert.
Where you can make your own ice-cream with all the toppings you wanted.
Here was mine.


14) The dinner was a great way to end the trip. We all talked about what a great trip it was and how much fun we had. Even on small small things we did like right after dinner the girls wanted to take the bus back to the hotel which would take them a whole round around the park eventhough Disneyland Hotel was right next to Hollywood Hotel.

Mike, Ming and I decided to go our own way and walk and we were all racing back to the hotel to make sure we would reach before the girls. We knew that if the girls reached before us, they would never let us hear the end of it.

You know something like "HAHA!!! See lah you guys! Not only have to walk in the cold but also arrive later than us!!"

15) It was such a great trip. Great company at such a magical place!

Totally worth the memories we brought home. Great traveling with you guys: Mike, Xiaxue, Ringo, Redmummy, Ming, Estee and of course, Princess.

Thank you Disneyland Hong Kong... for having us over.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Disneyland Hong Kong (Day 1)

I've always described Disneyland as the "Happiest Place on Earth". I think it's a combination of the balloons, the kids, the loud Disney music they play all around and the colourful park. It's my second time in HK Disneyland in a year and I still feel this way about it.

We were all talking over Sat night dinner about how great this trip has been. How we all had so much fun and had so many memories to bring back home but the best part about blogging is that I get to put up some of those memories here to share it with you guys and also to have a place to store those memories forever.

I'm going to tell the story in pictures.

1) We all stayed at the Disneyland Hotel that is made to look like a Victorian style kind of building.
A hotel that Mike very well describes as "cosy but yet grand".

This is a picture of their very grand lobby with a very high ceiling.

I love the rooms too. They typically come with two double beds which I mentioned to Redmummy earlier that it would suit her family of four just nicely.
She was so sweet. You could see how the entire trip she was just thinking about how much her family would have loved the place. At the end of the trip she told me that her dream is no longer branded hand bags or anything like that, but for her to save enough money to bring her family to Disneyland HK for a holiday. What a great mum.

Moving on, I still couldn't get over how much I liked the really cute Disney themed toiletries.

Plus lets not forget my favourite hotel room slippers.

So comfy and cute!

2) Princess, Redmummy, Ringo and I were the first of the group of Nuffnangers to arrive and we arrived a little too early to check-in so we walked around the hotel a little bit.

Took some pictures outside where they have this really beautiful maze. You know the kind of thing you only see in Alice in Wonderland or in the mansions of some really really rich people.

If I'm a rich man one day, my house is going to have a garden maze.

A big one too! With ice-cream in the center to reward anyone who manages to find his way into the middle.

I've always wanted what it was like to go through a maze so I went inside and found my way to the middle.

Before we left at the end of the trip we made sure we took a picture in the maze. See our heads sticking out in the middle of the maze?

Princess was so adorable. You couldn't see any part of her body when she was in the maze. You could only see her head bopping up and down.

The weather was perfect! You know not too hot and not too cold, so it was a lot of fun walking around outside snapping some pictures of the hotel.

3) We all settled down for lunch after our quick expedition to explore the hotel

and soon enough the Singaporean Nuffnangers arrived.

Here's Xiaxue and Mike

I took like 5 full minutes looking in awe at Xiaxue's really blinged up camera and Blackberry. She put every single one of those blings herself manually with glue. Imagine the time it took her.

Here's Singaporean Couple #2: Ming and Estee.

We were all starved. Ming didn't eat a thing on the plane. He has a thing against all plane food. If Ming was stuck on an island, I know he would rather hunt an animal for food than to eat ready made plane food.

After lunch we checked-in. Princess and I lazed around the room for a bit. I wanted to get a bit of sleep but we caught Aladdin on the Disney Channel so we ended up watching the whole movie.
Being in Disneyland really makes you want to watch these classics all over again.

4) Just right when the movie ended, it was time to head downstairs for tea. We met some of the Disneyland staff who are referred to as "Cast members" and they ordered the English Hi-Tea menu for us which included all this food.

It was crazy. They brought like 4-6 of these helpings for all of us. Some of the stuff were really awesome.

Check out the feast!

5) After we had eaten enough to feed a Mongolian army we headed to Disneyland Park.

Rockingdandy tagged along too.

6) When we got there, the first thing we got distracted with was shopping for souvenirs and other Disney merchandise. Man it wasn't even funny how much we all spent on buying Disney stuff just in the 3 days we were there.

Maybe I'll save that for another blog entry but we bought some really cool stuff and the girls were going crazy buying everything from mugs, to notebooks, to shirts, to... even stuff you don't really have a use for but just look nice.

Princess nearly bought this. She didn't though.. because she ended up finding a whole lot of other stuff to buy.

We were all saved from shopping when we were told the Christmas Parade on Main Street was about to start. The crowd was already gathering... waiting for it.

It was so beautiful and I was so impressed that I ended up standing there the whole time just watching the parade... forgetting to take any pictures or videos!

At one point of the parade they turned out all the lights of the Christmas tree only to make them sparkle a little bit and then gradually turn on again all in sync with the Disney kind of music they were playing.
The parade played off the lights off these little hologram goggle things where if you look at the lights through them you'll see a lot of shapes.

Some goggles have heart shapes, some have snow flakes, some have little snow men and the likes. I tried taking a picture with my camera through the goggles but I failed.

Ringo on the other hand, managed to get a picture through the goggles so I'm just going to steal one from her blog. I've posted it at the end of this post.

The back of the goggles read that it's patented so I think you can only find this in Disneyland :)

7) After the parade ended we took a walk around the park and went for the "It's a small world ride". If you've been reading my blog for a while you'll probably know this ride really well by now right?
It's this ride where you sit on a boat and they take you through a canal that has these little dolls singing on the side of it "It's a small world after all... it's a small world after all...".

Different sections of the canal represent different countries. Like these cute little dolls here dressed up in Kimonos represent Japan and they all sing "It's a small world" in Japanese.

During Christmas they have a special section where they dress all the dolls up very Christmas-sy.

8) When we were done with "It's a Small World", we went for Ming's favourite ride of all time... what he calls "The tea cup ride".

Funny huh. You would think for someone as fierce and aggressive as Ming, his favourite ride would be some killer rollercoaster or something but no. His favourite ride is the 'tea-cup ride" where all you do is just spin round and round and round.

I shared a tea-cup with Princess but she got so dizzy I was afraid she would throw up so I didn't dare spin the tea cup any more than it was already spinning.

Ming and Estee on the other hand were spinning their tea-cup so fast it looked like a Tazmanian devil from the distance.

9) The night for us ended the way every magical night in Disneyland ends. With a really nice fireworks display!

Again... the goggles came into play and took the experience to a whole new dimension. Allow me to illustrate. Here's how the fireworks looked like without the goggles.

and here's how it looked like with the goggles.

(Picture stolen from Ringo with permission).

Really really cool huh.

And that everyone... was how our first day at Disneyland Hong Kong ended. With a beautiful fireworks display and loads of happy memories.