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Monday, August 29, 2005

My Airport Story

So it's clearly not in the same league as the horrifying tales narrated over here. But here's my airport story, all the same.

Saturday morning, and I'm at the Jet Airways check-in counter at Mumbai airport, ready to board a flight to Delhi. But: "Sorry," says the lady behind the counter, licking her lips nervously, "that flight's been cancelled. We've combined it with the next one, leaving three hours from now."

When I ask why no passenger has been given this information beforehand, there's no reply. Another irate passenger behind me mentions that this was the third time this has happened to him this month. We bond, momentarily.

I speak to the supervisor, who offers to help by getting me an Indian Airlines ticket for a flight that is to depart two hours hence. Okay, I say, and proceed to wait for half an hour, admiring the new airport interiors.

Finally, the supervisor returns. "Yours is a waitlisted ticket, Sir," he says. "Nothing I can do." Waitlisted? I point out to him, my voice rising a few octaves, that it's an e-ticket printed from Jet's own website, and the status indicated says "OK". To this, there's no answer from the supervisor, who falls back on the sneaky tactic of looking over my shoulder to speak to the other confused Jet passengers waiting to beseige him.

Muttering dark threats, I rush outside to buy myself a ticket from some other airline. Hurray for privatisation, I say to myself. Three cheers for open skies.

This is where the narrative becomes terse and fragmented.

I visit the Air Sahara counter. Next flight to Delhi? Four hours from now. Onwards to Spice Jet. Next flight to Delhi? Eight hours away. (Mind you, we're talking of connections between the nation's financial capital and the capital itself.) On to Air Deccan. Next flight in one-and-a-half hours. I cheer up. But: "There's something wrong with the system, Sir. We'll let you know if we can book you on the flight only in half an hour." I move on to the Indian Airlines counter. There's no one there. No one. Simply empty tables and terminals.

Mopping my brow with a handkerchief, I rush out of terminal two and lurch into a moving auto that takes me to terminal one. First stop: the Kingfisher Airlines counter. Next flight to Delhi? Six hours away. On to Indian Airlines. Yes, there's a flight departing soon, and yes, there's a place on it for me. Clutching the ticket in a sweaty palm, I stagger into the terminal, to be told that the flight's delayed by 45 minutes. I sink into a hard plastic chair.

All I have for company is Picador India's new offering, Cyrus Mistry's The Radiance of Ashes. Unfortunately, this does nothing to alleviate my mood for it is naive and cliche-ridden. I attempt to blog about this from the airport itself, but the Sify Broadband Cafe (which proclaims "No Limits!") is deserted and padlocked.

After what seems like an eternity, the flight takes off. And, almost seven hours after I've left home for Mumbai airport, I arrive, blinking, in the baking streets of New Delhi.

Ah, the joys of air travel.

6 Comments:

  • Dude, the link you've given doesn't work.
    AB

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:23 PM  

  • putting yourself through all this, to go to delhi? :)

    By Blogger uma, at 9:23 AM  

  • Why would anyone work so hard to go to DELHI?

    Baffled.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:40 AM  

  • Well, among other things, the bookshops are worth it :)

    By Blogger PrufrockTwo, at 11:52 AM  

  • Fact & Fiction and The Bookshop, right? Yep, they're great.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:12 AM  

  • Yes. Makes one bemoan the paucity of the bookshops here in Mumbai.

    By Blogger PrufrockTwo, at 7:58 AM  

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