A simple desire to avoid Beijing’s infamous weekend traffic jams stopped Liu Meng from boarding Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
The 35-year-old Shengyang native moved to Malaysia at the age of 18 to study. After graduating, he found a permanent position, got married, and settled down in Malaysia.
Liu would go back to his hometown every year to commemorate the anniversary of his grandfather’s death on March 15.
“Every year, I would book an evening flight on March 7, arrive in Beijing in the morning and stay at my sister’s place for a day, before boarding a morning train to Shengyang,” said Liu to Chinese media.
“This year I did the same thing. After realizing that the flight was on a Friday night, however, I changed flight as I wanted to avoid Beijing’s weekend morning jams,” Liu added.
Liu got lucky, but wasn’t spared the heart-wrenching grief.
A colleague, who is also the brother-in-law of a close friend, was a passenger on the ill-fated flight.
“When my colleague and his family first heard that the flight vanished, they fell into deep grief, and kept on weeping,” said Liu.
“They held some hope for the first two days, but after the 72 hour mark, their spirits simply collapsed.”
“Their wracking sobs and painful howls of grief were unbearably depressing,” said Liu, and told reporters that his colleague’s family was already making funeral arrangements.
Liu was determined to make it for his grandfather’s death anniversary, so on March 10, he boarded Flight MH360 in trepidation.
“With every jolt, I would close my eyes, clench my fist, and silently tell myself, ‘Take heart! I will be home soon,'” Liu recalled.
“A couple sitting in front of me held hands throughout the entire 5-hour flight, and never took their eyes away from the flight route monitor.”
“Tracking the virtual plane with their fingers, they would say ‘I love you’ as it moved centimeter by centimeter across the screen.”
Scenes of jubilation filled the cabin when the plane touched down in Beijing.
“Everyone shouted: ‘We’re finally home!'” Liu said.