Dear Wayne Pearce,
I am told that you are the CEO of Oman Air, our national carrier. I have never written to a CEO before so I hope you don’t mind my honesty. Someone told me that you are a good listener, so I hope you have time to read my letter.
Let me introduce myself. My name is Nadia and I am a blogger from Dhofar. You may have even heard of my blog. It’s called Dhofari Gucci. I live in Salalah and often travel to Muscat for work and pleasure. You are the only airline that flies between Salalah and Muscat. There are several flights a day between the two cities and I thank you for that. It really is a great help to those of us living in the south.
Last year I took 38 flights between Salalah and Muscat. I am a Silver Sindbad Member. I always book online, check in early, label my luggage, don’t complain, and am very polite to your sometimes incompetent staff.
Over the past three years I have flown Oman Air to Europe. The experience was always wonderful. The Air Bus planes are state of the art, there’s internet on board, my phone works, plenty of leg-room, great entertainment system, delicious food, and flights always arrive early. Oh, and the bathroom is even big enough to let you turn around in. I can actually sit down without my knees hitting the door. What a bonus! I’m using Oman Air more and more to go abroad because compared to KLM, Lufthansa, British Airways, Swiss, my experience on Oman Air’s international flights has been much better.
There, I’ve gotten over the good part.
Now, I beg you to listen to me while I spew forth. I have been silent for years. When domestic Oman Air flights get on my nerves, I write letters to you on napkins on the plane. Then I throw the napkin out and tell myself to be patient because life is too short.
Last February I wrote a three page letter to you when I flew in from Europe and waited patiently for my Salalah flight. After three hours of waiting at the gate, I was finally informed that the flight was ‘delayed’ (as if we didn’t know already?!). When the door to the gate opened, your poor passengers rushed to the bus … eager to just get on the flight. Unfortunately, the bus did not move for twenty five entire minutes. Yes, you read me correctly. Twenty five minutes. The doors were open. We exchanged desperate looks. We were hot and helpless.
By the time I got on the flight and settled down, I was beyond exhausted (remember, I had just flown in from Europe). Within two minutes, the distressed looking cabin crew approached me to tell me to change seats because a woman at the back refused to sit next to a man. I begged them not to move me. The senior flight supervisor was brought over to convince me to move. In the end I had to. I was sent to the back of the plane and sandwiched between two women after I had originally selected a window seat. During that flight, I decided to vent by writing a letter to you. I never sent it.
Out of every four flights between Muscat and Salalah for me, at least one is delayed. Mr Pearce, this is not normal. It shouldn’t be acceptable.
As I type this now, I am sitting at (Gate 1) in Muscat Airport. You know, the ugly little gate on the ground floor where you send the Salalah passengers? That one. The one with the peeling metal seats that are designed to ruin people’s backs.
Well, my flight to Salalah was supposed to take off at 6:40. I have been at the airport since 3pm. After waiting in line at the Silver Sindbad queue for 25 minutes, someone finally paid attention to me. I smiled and said nothing. I want to be a good human.
At 6:00 I made my way to the gate like a good passenger and settled down to wait for the boarding call. 6:40 came and went, 7:40 came and went. Passengers started to get restless , children started crying, some people settled in for a nap. The Oman Air employee at the desk said ‘we will update you!’. Well, at 7:56 we finally got our first announcement:
“Dear Passengers, we apologize for the delay. The new flight time is 8:30”.
That’s it. No explanation. Despite the two hours delay and lack of professionalism and tact, I was thrilled to finally have a set time for departure.
It is now. 8:33. I am still at the gate.
The Oman air guys at the counter are chatting. Our flight has disappeared off the screen entirely. Some people are royally pissed off. No one has bothered to offer us an apology. People are lining up at the desk to beg for their boarding passes to go to the bathroom.
There are 17 Omani women on this flight. By the time they finally get us to the plane, it’s going to take at least ten minutes to re-shuffle passengers so every woman doesn’t have to sit next to a man. Where are your security measures? Why can’t your people just book women in to dedicated female rows? What’s so wrong with that?
By the time we take off and the food service comes around, you will toss a drink onto my table and a soggy sandwich. I will look up and ask for water but you will have already moved on to the second row. Never mind, I’ll think. I can survive without water.
I will try to get the sandwich out of its box but the soggy dough will be glued to the side of the carton. It will take me two minutes to attempt to unpeel it without losing half the tasteless chicken mushroom sandwich. By the time I have successfully unpeeled it and taken my first bite, your crew will be back again to take my trash. It’s ok, the sandwich wasn’t edible anyway. Take my half-eaten soggy sandwich.
8:50 and I’m still at the gate. I remind you I’ve been here since 3:00. My back is aching. Someone else’s child has fallen asleep on my feet.
I am fantasizing about my flight. I booked a window seat. Once your staff remove my soggy sandwich I will pull out the inflight magazine, Wings of Oman. I am too tired to do work, so a little light reading is in order even if it’s full of grammar mistakes (hire an editor who speaks English, will ya?)
I flip to the front page and there you are with your winning smile and confident pose. Wayne Peace, CEO of Oman Air. CEO of our national carrier.
You refer to Oman Air as one of the world’s leading luxury airlines. I agree. The WORLD’s leading luxury airlines. Unfortunately, Oman is not the WORLD. We are your trash. Your leftovers. Your ignorant citizens. The people you don’t give a shit about.
It’s 9:00 pm. I have been here for six hours, Mr. Pearce. Six hours. No explanation. No apology.
OH WAIT! There’s some action. An angry passenger is arguing with the Oman Air employee. He is now getting up on to a chair. He has called our attention. We all listen:
“Ladies and Gentlemen! I am an Omani citizen and I am a passenger on this flight! Listen up! We’re not taking off till after 10:00, you hear? TEN! Not an apology, not an explanation, no water, no food, nothing. I want you all to know that Oman Air doesn’t care about you. Doesn’t care about your babies or your sleeping children. Doesn’t care about even giving us an apology. All they care about is their money. Worthless fools Not even an explanation or an apology and this is our national carrier!!!”
A feeble cheer erupts form the crowd.
An Oman Air employee comes to the middle of us and says ‘We’re offering you dinner upstairs. Come back here at 9:45”.
Thank you angry Omani passenger for getting us free dinner. However, I’m not interested.
If we come back to the gate at 9:45, I wouldn’t dream of taking off before 10:30.
No explanation, no apology.
People start to shuffle out slowly. Women with sleeping children remain. There are several angry passengers shouting at the employee. It’s not his fault. He’s taking the crap on behalf of top officials.
Mr. Pearce, I am tired. If I’m lucky, we’ll land a midnight. If we’re extremely lucky, we’ll get an apology.
Rumor is going around our gate that your staff are on strike. At this moment, I don’t blame them. If your passengers are treated like this, I can’t imagine how your staff are treated.
What are you thinking?
This isn’t a first time incident. This has happened to me again…. And again….. and again, Mr. Pearce.
What have I done to you to deserve this kind of treatment? I’m a loyal passenger.
The ironic part is that when you board domestic Oman Air flights, the senior flight supervisor cheerfully tells us “Thank you for choosing Oman Air”. As if we have another choice? As a favour, could you ask your staff to stop saying that on domestic flights? It sounds ridiculous and you know that everyone makes fun of Oman Air for continuing to say that.
Mr. Peace, I’m tired of being treated like a worthless object.
Yours Truly from Gate 1
Update: we finally took off at 10:45. I asked the cabin crew what happened and they said 'operations problems!'. I was indeed shuffled from my window seat because they totally screw up the seating for a woman with three young children. I was thrown next to a woman who was sick. She asked for a blanket. The crew promised her one. They never brought it. My sandwich was indeed soggy and glued to the side of the carton. The male Omani cabin crew member was being rude to a Filipino woman who refused to move (her right!). He told me 'That stupid Asian woman.. she should cooperate!'. I gave him my coldest look and told him she was tired and had every right to sit in the seat she chose. He said 'we're all tired!!!!'. I told him 'It's your job to be polite to passengers even if you're tired!'. He stormed away. THANK YOU FOR CHOOSING OMAN AIR!