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MLE Leeli Lounge

MLE Leeli Lounge
August 2014
To the left side as you enter the arrivals halls is the Transit area, with a security person who alerted an airport staffer that I was in transit but needed a boarding pass.  
Although I had checked in online for my CX flight, I was not given the option of printing my boarding passes.  And I completely struck out at CMB as neither the SrlLankan Transit Desk agent or the Serendib lounge staff could print my CX boarding passes.  I handed my passport and itinerary to the airport staffer.  She returned 10 minutes later with my CX boarding passes and escorted me upstairs to the Leeli Lounge.  So far so good... I was in the lounge by 8PM and the inbound CX 333 was on time.  Time for a tour of the lounge.
And the shopping and food court outside the lounge.
At around T-45, I headed to Gate 4 to wait to board.   
Friendly gate staff checked my BP and I found a seat to wait the boarding call.   The first sign of trouble was that the flight crew was sitting in the lounge as well, at around T-40.  Uh, shouldn't you guys be on board?  At around T-30, the Captain and FO went down the stairs to the plane, came back a couple minutes later and sat down.  I went over to them, excused myself, and asked if there was a problem tonight.  Pleasant Captain told me that they were waiting for word on a mechanical issue.  Gate agent suggested that I go back to the lounge and she would call when we were ready to board.  
Back at the lounge, I started trying to look for options... just in case.   Unfortunately, wIth a full lounge from other flights, internet service had slowed to a crawl.    A half hour later, I walked back to the lounge only to see the fight crew walking my way down the concourse from the gate.  The Captain told me that they still waiting for diagnosis and were all going to eat at Burger King.   OK, this is not looking good.  About 45 minutes later or  just after midnight, the local CX station manager came into the lounge and announced that the flight had been cancelled, that CX was flying in a replacement plane which he estimated would let us depart at 9:00AM later that morning.  He informed us the CX had made arrangements for all passengers to stay overnight at a "5 star beach resort" and CX was working on alternate flight connections from HKG.  He asked us all to clear immigration, collect bags and proceed to the dock where boats would be waiting to take us to the resort.  I reviewed the math and decided that none of this made any sense.  There is no way that a replacement plane was going to arrive and then leave by 9AM.  And what kind of a replacement was going to show up?  And even if it did, how much sleep is anyone going to get tonight?  We'd be lucky to get the hotel by 2AM only to have to return at 6AM.  I don't think so.  Since I was on a refundable ticket I decided to go it alone, and just go the UL counter and buy a ticket on the 2:45A flight back to CMB connecting to SIN, where there were SQ First Class Saver mileage seats available later that afternoon on SQ2 to SFO.  Of all the possible options, it was the only way to get back to the US by that evening.
So I headed to immigration where naturally I was denied entry to Maldives because... I was a transit passenger.  OK, this just gets better and better.  Fortunately, the CX manager had just arrived in the immigration area.  I explained my dilemma and he immediately asked a CX agent to escort me back to the lounge and to work with me on options to get me out ASAP.  Fortunately, I was one of only two passengers that decided not to overnight and proactively try to get out of Dodge.  For the next 90 minutes, terrific CX agent Shuha worked with me and explored all options.  Never was EF a better investment as I was able to show her all the options.  We finally settled on MLE-CMB-SIN on UL in Business connecting to SQ2 SIN-SFO in First.   She left to work out the details with UL and SQ.  Shuha came back 20 minutes later with the bad news that they couldn't confirm SIN-SFO because the SQ office they needed to reach was "closed until morning".   Argh. Seriously? This is like a bad movie.  Once she confirmed that UL could indeed get me to SIN, I then booked the SIN-SFO SQ Saver First seat online at SQ.com. while Shuha watched so I could give her the PNR and UL could issue the ticket knowing that I had a confirmed ticket out of SIN.  I also gave her my Amex card and told her if was easier, just buy the UL ticket with it.    At his point it was approaching T-60 to my flight.  She returned at T-30 with my boarding passes and credit card, which she didn't need since CX apparently bought my MLE-SIN ticket.  Good to go?  Uh, no fast.  We first had to go to passport control where I had to officially leave the country, since apparently in order to issue the ticket, my passport had entered the country.  OMG.  We arrived at Gate 1 at T-20 where there was still more drama.  Shuha had to write a manual voucher to cover the CMB-SIN ticket since the CX ticket was not showing up on the boarding pass or in UL's system.  At T-10, all systems were go and I bid adieu and major thank you to Shuha.  I was the last person to board and the door was shut.   Truth be told, I enjoy the challenges of IRROPS, but this was too much even for me.  
December 2013

Across the street to the terminal.

Easy check in...

...and we headed upstairs thru security and into the departures area.

The Priority Lounge is the only game in town. Comfortable for a short stay.

Plane watching from the lounge.

And our plane. Looks like Ryanair boarding/deplaning

Time to head to the gate.