Life in the big-shot lane


Local F1 driver Alex Yoong was Chuah and Lynnie’s personal chauffeur for the day. They were driven in a Hummer, no less, around the Klang Valley.

AirAsia’s loyalty programme awards two lucky individuals with a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Nineteen-year-old college student Nurlynnie Azzureene Abdullah, better known as Lynnie, peppers her responses with words such as “amazing”, “awesome” and “wow”, like most millennials in the age of Facebook. The hospitality freshman’s animated disposition is apt, considering how we’re talking about her “big shot” experience – the AirAsia BIG Shot experience, that is – in a glass-walled room in the middle of an office building in Damansara Heights, Kuala Lumpur.

“It was awesome. I could say it’s the most awesome day in my life. It still feels very surreal. I just saw the video earlier and I’m like, ‘Oh my God!’,” says Lynnie.

The slightly-over-two-minute “The Ultimate BIG Shot Experience” clip on YouTube depicts Lynnie, along with another lucky individual Raymond Chuah Moong Earn, on what looks like an incredibly exorbitant trip around Kuala Lumpur that involves a wardrobe and hair makeover, being escorted by local celebrities, going on a helicopter ride and being feted at a private rooftop party.

The celebrities were former F1 driver Alex Yoong; former beauty queen and host Deborah Henry; Amazing Race Asia contestants and hosts Vanessa and Pamela Chong; Muay Thai fighter, model and actor Peter Davis; and comedian Harith Iskandar.

VIP treatment: Lynnie Abdullah and Raymond Chuah are all smiles at a private party at The Roof in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, as part of their AirAsia BIG Shot win.

Both Lynnie and Chuah are the grand prize winners of the “BIG Travel Wish Campaign”, a three-month-long contest that saw participants submitting intriguing stories about their desired travel destinations.

Over 1,000 travel wishes were granted, from the 35,000 wishes received. From this, two winners were selected for a once-in-a-lifetime BIG Shot experience. The airline will be flying them and their loved ones to their preferred holiday destinations – Lynnie to Tokyo, Japan, and Chuah to Melbourne, Australia – some time next year.

In addition to that, AirAsia’s BIG Loyalty Programme also awarded them 100,000 BIG points which they can use to redeem flight tickets.

AirAsia even flew in Chuah’s newly engaged brother Desmond and his fiancée Trili from Melbourne to be part of the man’s BIG Shot experience. As for Lynnie, she was pleasantly surprised to see her mother Nurlydia Azreen Ng Johani during her makeover session at Mak Max in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur. The airline had flown the latter in from Penang.

“AirAsia has done a good job in giving us a taste of what a BIG Shot is,” says Chuah, 33.

Surprise, surprise! AirAsia flew in Lynnie’s mother Nurlydia Azreen Ng Johani from Penang to meet her at the makeover session.

Sure it sounds dandy and all, but what exactly does being a BIG Shot mean?

“Experiencing something that you really want to experience and getting it first-hand. Not having any limitations at all. A BIG Shot just goes out there and enjoys the moment in all its fullness without any fear and limitation,” says Chuah, a book publisher based in the Klang Valley.

Of course, the fear of being mugged was the least of Chuah’s concerns when he had six tough Mixed Martial Arts fighters as bodyguards during a shopping excursion in Paradigm Mall in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, as part of the prize.

“Yeah, that got many shoppers staring,” he says, with a laugh, “but it was incredible.”

For Lynnie, being a BIG Shot means being able to do what she has always wanted to do, which happens to be solo travel.

Raymond Chuah and Nurlynnie Azzureene Abdullah each won 100,000 BIG points that they can use to redeem AirAsia flight tickets. — ONG SOON HIN/ The Star

“I woke up one morning with this epiphany that I had to go on vacation to Cambodia alone. But my mum said I had to earn my own money to go. Now that I have all those BIG points, I’m able to travel alone,” she says, as she casts a gleeful look at her mother who has accompanied her to this interview. At the disapproving look her 48-year-old mother gives her, Lynnie adds: “But of course, I’ll bring my mum along if she wants to.”

From the carefully orchestrated surprise at a restaurant to the employment of well-known personalities, it’s easy to dismiss the whole ordeal as a mere gimmick to perpetuate the visibility of the carrier’s frequent flyer programme. But in the process of its grandiose execution, the “BIG Travel Wish Campaign” is inadvertently bringing the members of those two families closer. And what better way to bond than through travelling with your loved ones?

“The last time we took a trip together as a family was about five years ago – to Genting Highlands. It’s great to get to spend time together,” says Lynnie who is planning to see the sakura blossoms in Japan with her mother and two elder brothers.

“There’s a huge age gap between my eldest brother and I – we’re eight years apart. In the past, I’d be in school while he’d be busy with work. So it was always hard to find the time for us to go on family vacations,” she adds.

Incidentally, it was Lynnie’s eldest brother Hilmi Adi Ruzaini Abdullah, 28, who submitted her travel wish in the contest.

Local F1 driver Alex Yoong was Chuah and Lynnie’s personal chauffeur for the day. They were driven in a Hummer, no less, around the Klang Valley.

For Chuah – who was nominated by his wife Skye Tan – his winning trip to Melbourne will be a walk down memory lane. It was in the second most populous Australian city that he met his Singaporean wife when they were both studying there almost 10 years ago.

“We’re taking our two-year-old daughter Lainey to show her the place where mummy and daddy met. We thought it would have a lot of sentimental value,” says Chuah.

“Lainey loves the beach and the seaside, and she enjoys ice cream. I’m sure she will have an amazing time,” he adds.

Although some might cringe at the idea of travelling with a kid, Chuah is looking forward to spending more quality time with his daughter.

“My wife and I want her to be a part of our lives in every sense (of the term). Sure, there might be some challenges flying with a child, but the joy of all those holiday memories will be very precious for us.”

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Life in the big-shot lane

   

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