Airport Crisis

Updated: Nov 22, 2020

As I was leaving Bali I managed to have one last adventure. About 35 minutes before my flight to Kuala Lumpur was scheduled to leave I went to pay my bill at the airport restaurant and my credit card was MIA.  Trying to stay calm I realized I had left it at a surf shop in downtown Kuta earlier in the day when I had bought a pair of shorts. I managed to convince a shop owner to help me.  He connected me to the surf shop I spoke with a girl named Putu on the phone and they indeed had my card. 

Several options went racing though my head.  With only 30 min before my flight was leaving I was limited.  I could cancel my flight and get on the next one possibly tomorrow.  But the option I was trying to go with was to get Putu’s information and have her overnight the card to a post office in KL where I could intercept it, then I would send her some kind of reward in gratitude.  While I was confusing Putu with the details of this master plan the shop owner interjected and suggested that she come to the airport and drop it off, since its only about 10 minutes away on a motorbike. Putu agreed to this at 6:38 and was on her way (flight leaves at 7:05). We agreed to meet outside the international terminal. This meant of course going back out in reverse through immigration and security. I explained the situation quickly to an immigration officer, he said he would hold my passport and waived me past. I went to the ATM and pulled out 500,000 rupees, about 40 USD as a reward for Putu. To me that seemed like a very thoughtful and reasonable reward for such an act. For an Indonesian working in a surf shop who only makes about 80-160USD a month, its an exorbitant amount of money.

After I got money I stupidly realized that she had no idea what I looked like. The only thing I could think of was to make a sign. I bombarded a random ticket desk demanding a piece of paper and marker.  The best they could produce was a role of blank receipts and a pink highlighter, to which I wrote “STAR-SURF…putu” Then I simply stood out in the middle of the road outside the international terminal at about 6:51 I saw a girl circling around that I had somehow missed on her first pass. This girl who I’m not even sure was her was about to pull into the main road and leave. Taking a chance I sprinted down the road flailing my arms and yelling, it was her. She gave me my card and I tried to give her money, which she of course refused. I even tried to put it on the ground and walk away, but she begged me to take it back. I’m not sure if it was part of her job, or part of her faith, but I was offending something so I took it back. I gave her a hug with the internal promise to somehow make it up to her and started back for the airport.

As I got to security the line was long, I quickly jumped to the front and explained my situation with such panic the guy didn’t even need to hear the words I was saying in order to let me through. As I was picking up my bag from the scanner I heard an overhead announcement for my name. I put my belt on and took off in a full sprint for immigration. There was a small counter where we had to pay an exit tax. The right thing to do would have been to show the guy that I had already paid. Instead I just ran past, he said something, but I didn’t care. The Immigration guy let me through quickly and now it was a wide open sprint to the gate. The time was about 7:01. I’ve seen people in airports before running to their gate with their bags in hand in a fast trot/ jog, but I was in absolute full stride, I wouldn’t be surprised if I posted a decent 400 meter time. The gate was much farther than I thought, probably about 600 meters from immigration, about every 200 meters there was a Representative from Air Asia waiving me along telling me to hurry and talking on the radio to the gate. I made it to the gate wheezing, sweating, and almost unable to stand. I took my seat drenched in sweat and that was all she wrote. For half the flight I sat there in reflection unable to believe that the whole thing actually worked. It was something not worth repeating, but a good story I guess.


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