Some four hours later a gentleman approached us asking if we were the ones on the Air Astana flight to Kazakhstan. He asked us for our passports and flight info. He returned some time later to let us know our luggage was overweight and would we have to pay a fee. Oddly, our luggage had not been overweight in Bahrain when we left. Now it was somehow 70 kilos over. Further, we would have to pay in cash since the credit card machine was mysteriously inoperable. Coincidentally, the ATM machine was in the terminal where you couldn’t go without a boarding pass. Our friend the expediter offered us a solution. He volunteered to get the money for us if we gave him the pin number to one of our cards provided we trust him. The deep rumbling full belly laughter of six Marines filled the waiting area.
For another four hours we debated with this man about the extent of his piracy and how there was no way on this green earth we were going to hand over an ATM pin number to him. As far as we were concerned it was all part of a scheme to fleece travelers who have no option but to hand over cash or be stranded.
Eventually we had to bend to the will of the transit bureaucracy and agreed to pay the extortion money. Upon paying we were assured our boarding passes would be ready in ten minutes. An hour later we had to approach the counter again and ask if our boarding passes had materialized as our plane was leaving in thirty minutes. Finally given the golden boarding passes of freedom, we joined the long line of refugees death marching a slow shuffle toward the lone security screening point. Only one lane was open through security because the minimum number of travelers required to open a second line was 20,000 people vice a mere 10,000.
We made it to our gate with only minutes to spare.
Stay tuned for part III!