A 10,000-meter chronicle: «Fasten your seatbelts, the real World Cup is starting»

Por AIPS América

3 de diciembre de 2022




DOHA, December 2, 2022 – “Dear passengers. Due to an incident on the pitch, the flight will be delayed one hour”, said the woman in the KLM suit. The reaction from the crowd was almost like a goal celebration. A one-hour delay meant that the first half of Argentina-Poland was going to be watchable on the giant screens set in the airport. It was perhaps the only time that a flight delay sparked that euphoric reaction.

Most of the fans that were about to board, were travelling to Qatar without knowing if their team would qualify for the next round. The unpredictable defeat in the opener against Saudi Arabia had twisted every plot. Nobody dared to make an alternative plan.  

But the first half, including a penalty awarded via VAR, was not enough to secure the Argentinian qualification. Staff members from the shops at Ezeiza airport had all left their positions to watch the game with the passengers. There are screams, cursing, and arguments. We are inside an airport, but this is more like a football stadium. 

The second half was much more difficult. Boarding was open, but many simply did not want to board. Those that were inside the plane quickly discovered that they didn’t have wifi and mobile data was not working. Nobody had an old radio. It was (almost) a complete blackout. The phone lines were very weak, too.

My father called me to announce the first goal. Soon he was on speaker with a bunch of strangers celebrating all together. The second goal was more difficult to process. Someone yelled “GOAL” in a weird accent. Three Polish citizens were inside the plane. There was a moment of doubt. Is it from Argentina or from Poland? Then someone screamed “Alvarez” and by that time, the plane that was about to take off went crazy. Forget about seatbelts and security measures. People were literally running across the aisles.

By the time we were on air, the commander made his first announcement: “We are now reaching the cruise altitude. And for those interested, Argentina won 2-0 and the game between Saudi Arabia-Mexico ended 1-2.

Argentina and Poland have qualified”. Everyone, including those three Poles, celebrated.
It would take us almost 25 more hours to land in Qatar. But the World Cup turbulence was already gone.

The real World Cup starts now. But the KLM 0702 flight from Buenos Aires to Amsterdam on 30 November 2022 will never be forgotten.

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