For no reason, Vietnam Airlines gave us a lot of trouble checking in at 5am for our flight from Hanoi to Hue. The airline said the tour company paid with a credit card and without that exact credit card they would not allow us on the airplane. Fu’oo called the tour company at 5:45am and started a search for the credit card.
“Even if your tour guide tracks down the credit card it won’t be here in time,” said the unhelpful Vietnam Airlines lady after our above conversation. “Your flight is already boarding.” Yes, thanks lady, that’s why we got here ridiculously early for our 6:10am flight!!
They said we’d need to buy new tickets, but couldn’t guarantee they’d hold the plane for us. Fu’oo was furious with the airline. He actually showed visible anger to several people—unusual in everybody-saves-face Southeast Asia. The airline was causing his tour company to lose face, which is huge. “What happens to the rest of our tour if we don’t make it on this flight?” I asked. Fu’oo inhaled and cocked his head to the side; “Cannot miss this flight.”
He turned to the ticket counter operator, who’d dismissed us unhelpfully and taken the next customers a while ago, and again argued with the guy. This time the guy called over 10 people, who all talked into their radios and looked severe (are we seeing a pattern among officials in Vietnam??).
Fu’oo, apologizing profusely, said we’d have to buy new tickets, but we’d be reimbursed for that amount immediately upon arrival in Hue. Chris left to buy tickets with only five minutes until takeoff, but then suddenly the unhelpful airline lady reappeared with our boarding passes and baggage labels. She whisked away our luggage and we ran to security, where Fu’oo told the security people our plane was already five minutes late for take off. They frowned at him and told us to get to the end of very long, slow line. Fu’oo left us in the security line, then ran back to the Vietnam Airlines counter, back to us with a VA employee, and we were finally pushed to the front (to the general grumpiness of everyone). Chris handed Fu’oo a generous tip (he was our favorite, plus all our other guides just dropped us off in front of the airport) and we sprinted to our waiting plane.
We plopped into our seats, looked at each other, and sighed in relief. Then this annoying girl across the aisle, who was flirting with the male flight attendant, said, “Why are they still letting people on?” purposefully loud enough for us to hear. I said, “I can tell you why.” She studiously ignored me. She fell asleep on the flight and continued snoozing—mouth agape—as everyone got off. Including us. I didn’t wake her.