WHEREVER we dined for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, there was always hot chocolate, as well as brewed coffee in the menu. Tea is not so popular in Turin, Milan, Athens, Turkey, Prague and Frankfurt. Coffee and cacao do not grow in Europe, yet there are lots of chocolate products around for eating or for tourists to bring home. There’s a real hunger in Europe for cocoa-based confectionery. There are chocolate spas also and many other ways they enjoy their chocolate.
We went to Le Delizie di Silvio Bessone & Vinni Mariangela sdc in Vicoforte, Italy, and we were drooling at the variety and heavenly taste of their chocolate products. Each of us, one busload of tourists, perhaps bought more than 100 euros worth of chocolates. We were told that they take special care in choosing the cacao nuts that they use, finding their source in South America and Syria. I told them we Filipinos also produce cacao, but I was curtly stopped, “we are concerned about quality.” Yikes!
This is a wake-up call for our cacao and coffee farmers. Europe is a huge cacao and coffee market—let’s grow quality cacao and coffee and get a share of that market. Germany, which doesn’t grow a single cacao tree, boasts, “What is Germany known for apart from beer and bratwurst? Chocolates! Who doesn’t love chocolates?”
I sampled some brands (you can just imagine how much chocolates I ate while in Europe in 14 days. In Italy: Amadei, Guido Govino, Cioccolata Venchi, Gianduiotto, Perugina, Ferrero and Modica. In Germany: Coppeneur, Toblerone, Milka, Moser Roth, Ritter Sport. In Athens: The 614, Soya, Condos, Greek, Oscar and Alexandros. Of course, I bought Switzerland’s Lindt and Sprungli chocolates. In Prague, it’s Belgian pralines.
That was a heavenly trip and treat.
However, coming home was a different story.
“I am sorry, we can’t do anything. The airline wants to make money,” says the Emirates employee at the Frankfurt Pre-Departure Area.
Okay, the rule says one piece of cabin baggage. I had three, with a combined weight of 10 kgs. I could put one in my handbag, still the weight exceeded by 3 kgs. So I had to check in and pay 220 euros for a 4-kg package containing an exotic antique chandelier I bought in Athens for 100 euros. However, when we reached Manila, my chandelier was no more—the glass was shattered into smithereens—rendering the whole set useless! Goodbye, 320 euros!
From Athens to Turkey to Prague to Frankfurt, I carried that chandelier, together with my handbag and another shopping bag as carry-on baggage so it was safely and wholly intact all the way, until the Frankfurt-Dubai-Manila leg of our trip.
The issue is the one-bag rule that they applied to us Filipinos ONLY. At the pre-departure area, bus and inside the plane, we noticed (I traveled with two other Filipinos who were subjected to the same rude treatment) that many other passengers, mostly Caucasian-looking travelers, carried more than one bag and some bags were even large enough to be checked into the belly of the airplane. This is clearly discriminatory. Rules should be applied to all skin colors.
From Milan to Athens to Turkey to Prague we took Aegean Airlines and we didn’t have any problem. As the check-in staff said, “I don’t think they will make a fuss.” From Prague to Frankfurt via Czech Airlines, I only paid 55 euros for overweight checked baggage (There is a lot to buy in Athens and Prague). I was allowed to carry into the cabin my chandelier, a handbag and another small shopping bag. From Dubai to Manila, I bought duty free goods in two bags and it was okay with Emirates Airlines, after all, Dubai is in UAE.
Looking back when we started our sojourn here in Manila, I noticed that the check-in staff in our lane strictly implemented the baggage weight limits as far as the OFW-type passengers were concerned. We got good treatment maybe because my companions and I traveled in stylish business attires because we were going to Turin, Italy, to take up courses at the International Training Center of the International Labor Organization representing the employers sector. Otherwise, I normally travel in my jeans, Ts and comfortable shoes, not boots.
For business or leisure, I travel a lot around the world and this is the first time I experienced this treatment. Emirates Airlines prides itself as giving the most generous baggage allowance of 30 kgs. PAL, Delta Air and many other airlines I have taken allow two pieces of checked baggage of 23 kgs per bag, plus cabin baggage of one handbag and one carry-on bag. And Emirates Airlines charges more for its tickets.
I am sure our very own Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific would have treated their customers in much more charming ways and superb customer service.
Never again, Emirates Airlines!
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