Scott Waide: Tangfu! Just another PX flight cancellation in Port Moresby

Port Moresby Airport
Port Moresby Airport ... when today's flight is sure as hell not going to be today. Image: Scott Waide/My Land, My Country

OPINION: By Scott Waide in Lae

Yesterday in Papua New Guinea, our Port Moresby-Madang flight got cancelled.

Minutes earlier, as we sat in the departure lounge, I was so confident.

No there was no doubt… Cancel that. I wasn’t even thinking about a cancellation.

In my universe, a cancellation was not part of the equation.

I was going to Madang on PX 112.

Seconds before the the announcement began with “This is an advice to passengers traveling to Madang on PX 112…” came on, I had already started packing my Macbook and my phone. (Because I’m psychic like that.)

Then the message continued: “…this flight has been cancelled.” (Not so psychic, huh?)

My mood was audibly echoed by dozens of people in the departure lounge. “Another TANGFU!” someone said beside me. (Note to self: Google TANGFU).

So they said over the PA system, in so many words, go to the PX customer services counter to find out when your flight will take off – and in the same breath, indicating that it sure as hell wasn’t going to be today.

My Macbook
My Macbook … psychic? Image: Scott Waide/My Land, My Country

I walked out with my partner in crime in tow and my very dirty tactical backpack slug over my shoulder. Within seconds of stepping into the security checking area, a small security guard yelled from across the room for us to go through the other door.

His total religious compliance with covid-19 regulations meant that half his face was covered with a face mask making his ability to effectively communicate to customers extremely difficult. All I could make out was that he didn’t want us there.

“Oi! Na yu toktok isi!” I yelled back. He didn’t stop, he kept going on until someone yelled back at him.

We found our way out. PX customer service said the flight was rescheduled to early morning the next day. Wake up at 4am, check in at 5am. They also advised that there would be no accommodation for outbound passengers from Port Moresby.

Getting on board
Getting on board. Image: Scott Waide/My Land, My Country

AAAAAGH! we don’t live here and we checked out 4 hours ago from where we were!

So we ended up looking for accommodation near the airport. But the drama didn’t end there.

In my wisdom, I booked our accommodation online, got the dates wrong and booked for February 11 instead of January 28.

Long story short, I got scolded by my bestie who said, very sternly, “If we travel again, I will make travel arrangements, not you.”

Don’t blame me, blame the security guard and PX.

So, 4am in the morning we are there. Check in opens a bit late. It is manageable. No drama.

And we finally got on the flight. I mean, we are on board!!


Finally, we're on board
Finally, we’re on board. Image: Scott Waide/My Land, My Country

Editor’s note: Tang Fu is an “explosive” expression linked to the Chinese inventor and naval caption who invented a superior form of exploding rocket about 1000 AD which was said to be a forerunner of firearms. However, in the PNG context it means something else. Bob Howarth comments: “For those who never experienced it .. Tangfu … typical air nui gini f*** up!”

Asia Pacific Report republishes articles from Lae-based Papua New Guinean television journalist Scott Waide’s blog, My Land, My Country, with permission.

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Scott Waide is the Lae bureau chief of EMTV News and began his career with EMTV in 1997 as a news and sports reporter and anchor and has been a media professional for more than 19 years. He has worked as a producer and researcher for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Port Moresby Bureau. Scott is also a recipient of multiple awards including the Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union Prize in 2005 in Iran for best news feature.