Thursday, January 10, 2008

just when i thought it couldn't get worse!

just when i was smug with the belief that i have had the worst flight experience in my life, the universe conspires to show me that i still have a long way to go!

i am trying very hard here in this post to see the humor in the entire episode, so help me along by laughing with me :-D

in my attempt to surprise myself, i reach the airport about 4 hours before my scheduled flight (jet lite S2109 from delhi, etd 2020). (my wife will shake her head in exasperation and say something like, 'why does it always have be either extreme'?) the lady at the check-in counter serves me with a smile and refuses to accommodate me in the earlier flight. i smile back at her, but i think the sub-text is lost on her. she instead chooses to smile at the next passenger in the queue.

over the next few hours i have managed to look at all the shops in the concourse, eat and drink as much as i could, finish reading the book i am carrying (the calcutta chromosome by amitav ghosh), read all the possible complimentary newspapers including the delhi times (and if you thought the mumbai times is pathetic, think again!).

and then i notice that all the flights are running about an hour late. only one of the airlines believes it necessary to make regular announcements that the flights are delayed because of congestion at the airport. (no prizes for guessing which airline it is). after some time i think the announcer was too exhausted to make any more announcements. and the person operating the controls for the display board also has lost interest in updating the revised times.

i sat and watched life pass me by. no actually, i watched passengers of all other flights stream by and depart for their respective destinations. and then finally i board my flight about 2.5 hours after the scheduled time.

and if you thought with that my travails ended, keep thinking again. it took another 15 minutes before we got clearance from the atc (air traffic control). that was after the initial 10 minutes lost in trying to trace one passenger who seemed to have disappeared. (my bet was that he was blissfully sleeping in some corner of the airport.)

and then finally we got airborne with the shrill engines reminding us of how well they have served humanity for a very long time! and then well into the flight the captain suddenly remembered that he had to apologise to us for 'all events beyond the airline's control'. and he ended his monologue by saying that he hoped to reach us to mumbai as planned unless 'the atc and events beyond his control' had other plans in mind for us!

after munching through some insipid fare being passed off as veg burgers and a cup-cake which had been pulled out of the oven before it was fully baked, we all decided to lean back and await our collective destiny which awaited us in mumbai.

and wonder of wonders! we landed in mumbai without any 'traffic congestion' or 'atc clearance' holding us up. but before we could start feeling amiable towards the airline, disaster struck. the plane taxied into its holding bay and then we had to wait for almost 15 minutes in the aircraft waiting for the ground staff to find the ladder for the aircraft! one of the passengers could be heard explaining very patiently to his wife that the ground staff seem to have lost their ladder and they are asking the passengers to either jump off the aircraft or sleep in in the aircraft until they found a ladder!

i finally reach home, at 2 am, three hours later than my scheduled time, tired and battle-worn, but glad to be back in one piece!


~nm said...

Haha! What a humorous satirical post this is!

I guess the airlines or airports work with the motto 'no limits' :D

Shruti said...

not because u said it, I just had to laugh through it :D

The hObBiT said...

this is hilarious! i admire your ability to look at the brighter side of the situation! :) U've also scared me coz I'm scheduled to fly Jet lite from Kolkata to Mumbai on the 29th of this month!! and Kolkata is famous for their slowwwwwwwww pace of doing anything!!

Anonymous said...

dear guru...yr writing is fantastic and i enjoy reading yr comments on these day to day issues that one cn really identify with. good show mate....keep up the great work :-)

gautam sen

Rubina said...

I enjoy reading your blogs.....It could get worse...flying from Bombay to Melbourne...thai airways...Flight from Bombay suppose to leave at 11:20pm, got to the airport at 830pm, there was a 2.5 hour delay, which the airline refused to inform passengers, took me 2 hours and 45 mins to check in....finally in the counter, i was told I was going to miss my connecting flight from Bangkok, thus, got stranded in Bangkok for 16 hours!!!! instead of getting home at 9pm Sunday night, i got home 130pm Monday afternoon. talk about a bad end to a holiday.

Guruprasad said...

@~nm : yes, no limits to the adventures enroute, while we get you from here to there!

@shruti : i am not to be held responsible if you develop a stitch in your side with all the laughing :D

@the hobbitt : i am sure the airline is not as bad every time.
your mention of kolkata reminds me of my days there. must write about some of my memorable moments.

@gautam : thanks mate.

@rubina : good to see you here! i agree, i still haven't had it as bad as you have! and i hope i never. am going to manila this weekend :)

Thinking aloud said...

heh...heh..this was funny...though obviously not so for you :)

Eagle said...

Kudos to you for trying to find the lighter side to the most exasperating events. Thats the smartest decision on can take since most often than not such situations are beyond our control. You can laugh through it or cry through it...either way the situation doesn't change. But laughing through it one doesn't suffer and has a much higher chance of retaining one's sanity!
But as always...easier said than done! i hope this decision of yours rubs off on me too! :)

Manasi said...

Guru, i took the liverty and shared your post with my sister and she was marvelling at your good luck :-) she and her hubby were stranded in Mumbai on their way from Chicago last year by Air India on acount of the Delhi fog. Can you guess for how long... 18 hours (12 am to 6pm) because the plane had CAT 3 but the pilot wasnt trained to use it. Seemingly, despite all their good sense, the Airline just takes us people and our lives for granted.

The air tickets to india were quiet high this holiday season (i myself was about to settle for a 2400 dollar ticket but the plan was cancelled at the last minute, sigh!!) and the only airline that was going cheap was Air India at 1600 dollars and still there were not many takers (counting even the unwilling ones). Coupled to it the constant bad media exposure ... not good for oncoming business anyway.

I strongly feel that this organization needs a strong leadership. What i see here is a demoralized set of partcipants paddling the behemoth along and somehow letting the ends meet somewhere. These incidents are just the symptoms... the real cause is lack of Vision and Mission within the organization... It was not too important but now it is all too apparent...

Guruprasad said...

@ thinking aloud : it is funny now when i look back at it. but not when i was going through it :)
but when i read the other comments i felt i got away easily. or maybe i have got worse in store? ;)

@ eagle : i hope i can always see the humor in the situation when i am in the situation and not later when it is all over. that's the challenge for me! :)

@ manasi : you bet i got away cheap there! i hope i have to blog about worse experiences here! :)