On a Wings Air and a Prayer

We are about to fly from Bima to Densapar to catch a connection. Glancing at the runway, I am watching Lion Air, Air Garuda, and Wings Air planes arriving and departing, and suddenly realized we are not In Kansas anymore. “Hmmm, are any of these the airlines in which the planes disappeared off the radar scope, never to be seen again?”, I ponder in passing.

Everything is a bit off. As we check in our many bags, I marvel at how free of possessions the Indonesians must be, given the 6 (SIX!) kilo baggage weight allowance. This doesn’t even cover the electronics allowance for the Best Buy store I carry on my back daily. Ah HA! It’s a scam. It’ a weight limit set so that every passenger has to ante up a bit more Rupiah. Done.

I look with envy at the Aussie who has a surfboard and a rucksack, that is large enough to hold only board shorts, an extra t-shirt and a toothbrush. I smile at the “change of clothes” he’s wearing, a tank top with a surfboard, looking like a joint, with a surfer on the tip, like smoke. “Looking for trouble at customs I see,” I remark, considering the strict drug laws in Indonesia. “Designed by an Indonesian”, he replies, as if this tid-bit will save him the pleasure of an impromptu strip search. “Good luck, mate”, he smiles, as we depart.

As Yoda would say, “Luck, we might need.” The baggage gets no tags at check in. Disappearing up the conveyor belt, this prompts a confused glance from Nicholas. Stacia has been asking me for a week, “Do you think there’s a difference between Lion, Garuda, and Wings?”

“Only if one of them lands in flames”, I sniff once again, hoping a splash of sarcasm shows confidence. It doesn’t.

As it turns out, there’s a method to the baggage madness. Only one plane takes off per century, and the 10:05 am to Densapar really isn’t a scheduled flight, it’s more like a suggestion. Because Annika, arms folded, has decided I’m the worst Dad in human history, I spend some quality time entertaining a skull-cap clad toddler, using the snapping gator toy that came from Miami B.I. (before Irma), courtesy of Professor Arthur.

He kept this remnant from a Spring Break trip he and I took in collage, in 1979, only to be resurrected for this trip nearly 40 years later. (THAT’s a hoarder!)

We finally hear our call over the loud (sic) errrr… mumbled speaker and stroll out the door in time to see most of our baggage being loaded into the cargo-bay. There is nothing unusual about the takeoff, or the flight, save the fine for smoking on board, which is a cool 200,000 Rupiah, or about 15 USD. I wonder if smoking a cigarette on board, and the ensuing blog post, is worth the fine and the hassle? I am reminded of our tight connection, and pass.

As I idly glance at the materials in the seat back pocket, there is an unusual bonus card I’ve never seen before. Kindly, Lion Air Group/Wings Air has provided prayers in native language, and in English, for 6 different religions.

Interesting reading. My personal favorite, was the one in Chinese language, that is special prayer so that the flight attendants arrive safely.

I look down the aisle, the entire length of the airplane, and hold up the card with a knowing nod, and smile at the flight attendant. She smiles back. I glance at Stacia and Nicholas, across the aisle, hands folded in prayer. Nicholas points out that the smiling attendant sports a seven-point attached seat belt. Prepare for impact, we joke. On approach, I refold the prayer pamphlet, and as I am placing it in the seat pocket in front of me, I suddenly freeze. It looks like this:

The Indonesian language often has repetitive words.

The video of the landing, and the consequent gratitude of a safe landing by my family, looks like this:

Namaste, dude.


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