A narrow escape from coronavirus on my trip to Italy

In November 2019, AirAsia began selling flight tickets of over 100 global airlines on its platform. To gain traction, it offered roundtrip flight tickets from Kuala Lumpur to Madrid for just RM 99 (~25 USD). This promotion was only a one-day deal.

I work at AirAsia as a software engineer. This topic soon became our favorite and one could hear employees discussing it everywhere from standups to lunch tables. I’ve lost count of the number of rumors that went around about details like the number of seats available for the deal, the amount of money AirAsia was spending on this offer, and so on. Fast forward to D-day which was a Saturday. My brother and I woke up at 8.45 am, a lot earlier than we usually do on weekends, and agreed on the travel dates based on our project deadlines. We then saved our personal and payment information on our browsers since the deal was expected to sell out in minutes. We had no expectations whatsoever. When the clock struck 9, we both tried booking two seats, each, frantically. To our surprise, we both got the tickets. We jumped with joy and started dancing! At this point, we assumed most of our colleagues would have got the tickets as we did.

On Monday, when we shared this news with our colleagues, it spread in the office like wildfire. We learned that we were the only ones at Airasia to get the discounted tickets and felt extremely lucky.

Our travel dates (that we came up within 5 minutes that morning) was 7th-17th February 2020. We soon started planning for the trip. My brother wanted to visit Italy to watch Ronaldo (his god) play live. So we planned our trip to visit Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, Verona, and Venice (more about the trip to follow in another post). Italy was towards the end of our trip.

On our trip, we took trains and flights to travel between cities. We did all the touristy things we could do and ate at all the famous restaurants. Little did we know that coronavirus was starting to manifest itself in northern Italy at the same time. Within four days after returning from the trip, my brother and I came down with cough and fever. We instantly went to the in-house clinic at work where the doctor ruled out Coronavirus for both of us. We felt relieved and within a couple of days started to feel better.

The situation is getting worse throughout the world and the virus has taken many lives in northern Italy. When I look back, I can’t help but think of all the different ways our trip and with it, our lives could have gone sideways. This moment right now is an outcome of all the decisions we have made in the past, without realizing the impact it could have on our future.

Software Engineer at AirAsia