Today my Southeast Asia trip begins, for which I prepared longer and better than on the last trips. I don't have a ready-made travel plan, because for me the journey itself is actually the goal. On this trip even more than usual. I just looked around mid-December where there were still reasonably affordable flights to Southeast Asia somewhere. There are basically none like before the COVID pandemic. I found a one-way flight to Bangkok that cost more than a return flight three years ago. As soon as I started my journey today, it became clear that international passenger traffic by plane had gotten into serious trouble. I'm leaving from Frankfurt am Main (FRA). Check-in there at China Airlines takes just three minutes. But at the automated border control, I've been in line for 30 minutes. There are not enough of the gates for so many passengers who have to go through it. Passport control is only theoretically faster that way. In reality, many people still have problems handling it. Most do not leave their passport on the scanner long enough, so the process has to be repeated multiple times.
It takes even longer at the security checkpoint. Four flights pass through here and the queue winds its way out into the terminal aisle. It used to be said that you should be at the airport two hours before departure, today it is said to be three. I stuck to it, but I stand in line for the security check for a solid hour. Behind me are people waiting for their flights to Muscat or Belgrade. Many of them miss their departure. Sometimes there are tumultuous scenes and shouting when desperate individuals try to push themselves forward in the queue. My flight is to Bangkok with a stopover in Taiwan's capital, Taipei. My time buffer has also been used up and when the boarding of my flight is about to begin, I only go through the security scanner. However, boarding has not yet started and will not be for the next hour. In the waiting area I hear the announcement that there is a problem with the so-called "ground operations". Whatever that means. Finally we are allowed to board, but when I sit on the plane, it doesn't move for another hour.
Stranded before departure
In Taipei I only had an hour to change trains. That has now been used up and long since exceeded. So it's already clear that I won't be able to get my connecting flight. I'm stranded, although my journey hasn't quite started yet. I'm secretly considering alternatives. How much does a camel actually cost? You hear a lot of interesting things about the Silk Road. After an hour of sitting on the plane, we are asked by another announcement to get out of the plane again. The aircraft is broken and now had to be repaired by Lufthansa Technik.
I have to kill four more hours in the waiting area and then, almost six hours late, I get up into the air over the Rhine-Main area much later.
Flying as it used to be is probably over and now air traffic is just as desolate as rail travel. Except that you have to pour away your water beforehand and get your soft parts grabbed. The flight to Taipei is overnight and will not arrive there until the afternoon. That's why it's important that I get a good night's sleep during the flight so that the jet lag doesn't get that bad. The German-Taiwanese couple with their daughter, who is only a few weeks old, is very cute and remarkable in the row of seats in front of me. The father offers earplugs from a large pack to all fellow travelers in the immediate vicinity. But they are not necessary at all, because the two new parents are caring for their baby. They take it in turns to take it out of its crib with every peep, and there's not a single cry during the 11-hour flight. I have often experienced this differently. But these parents prove that there is another way and I'm lucky in that respect.