Saturday, 28 January 2017

The Time When I Missed My Flight

"When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it" - Henry Ford.

The lady at the info desk started tearing up as she watched me in tears mumbling words as I explained how I had missed my flight. It all started in Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel Airport, Ahmedabad. I had just paid five hundred rupees for extra luggage and got my boarding pass for my Indigo flight to Mumbai from Ahmedabad. As I waited at my gate wondering if I should spend fifty rupees for my second cup of tea that morning, I picked up an announcement that my flight was delayed by two hours.

A lot of people got up in a panic to inquire further and I joined them. My flight that was scheduled for departure at 10.20am was delayed due to weather conditions in Delhi. I could understand that the guy at the check-in gate did not have much control over the weather but I needed him to help me. I had around two and half hours in Mumbai before my connecting flight to Mangalore. I already had a bad feeling about this. The announcement voice once again caught our attention as they confirmed that the delay would be just by one hour instead of two hours. I still spoke to the guy at the counter. My connecting flight was of Jet Airways which meant I had to collect my luggage and check in again. He spoke in a sweet customer service type voice and assured me that a one hour delay would not be a problem in Mumbai and he was putting my baggage into "priority" so I would get it sooner. I thanked him and returned to my seat. I did finally get my tea because I was really anxious and there was no calm zone until I reached Manipal.

The flight was uneventful. On landing, I tried to get out of the aircraft first but no one understood my plea of the possibility of missing a connecting flight. We waited for our luggage on the rotating belt. The bags started popping up. My bag was nowhere in sight. After ten minutes I finally went to the window like the place that looked out to the runway and gave the description of my bag to the ground force worker in charge.

I rushed with my bags looking for a Jet Airways counter at the Terminal 1of Domestic Airport, Mumbai. There was no Jet Airways counter at this terminal! Only Indigo, Spice Jet and had flights departing from here. I knew I was in deep shit. I rushed to get a prepaid airport taxi that cost me 260 rupees. Then there was the long taxi queue. I was already in tears. I told the taxi lady to make it quick. I was in Mumbai traffic! The 4.8km distance was the most difficult car ride of my life. I reached the Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai at 1.25pm and my flight was departing at 1.55pm. The Jet Airways counter was open for flights to Jaipur. They said they could not help me. They told me the next flight to Mangalore was at 6 pm and directed me to that counter which was not open yet but there was a fair boy in his late twenties behind the counter. I explained him my situation. The bastard did not look at me nor did he show any concern whatsoever.

I then went to the Indigo counter and was told "Maam, we only deal with International departures. The domestic Indigo flights are from T1". I had no idea if I went back would I even get a flight. There was no way I was going to buy a last minute flight ticket from my money. I could not call my mom because she would go into shock. That was when I went to the info desk lady in tears.

Her voice was breaking as she asked me to take a seat and wait. After 10-15minutes, two Indigo airline staff came to talk to me. The man told me that it was a rule to have a 3-hour gap between connecting flights. This made my blood boil. I replied, "Why don't you enforce this rule on us when we book our online tickets?" A computer can easily pick this up and not allow one to book but nothing was done about that. I told him about the Ahmedabad Indigo staff who very well knew that my connecting Jet flight was going to be at another airport but as he did not want to deal with my problem he did not bother telling me this.

After watching me in a hyper-defensive mode they asked me to calm down and returned a few minutes later. I had a ticket on the 6 pm Jet flight to Mangalore. Phew! I then called my parents to inform them of the happenings. The 6 pm flight was delayed to 7 pm but I did finally reach my destination, my home, Manipal, maybe for one last time. It is my final semester of my B Pharm degree (That is, if I clear Medicinal Chemistry).

What I think needs to be done to prevent other people from facing a similar situation to mine :
1) Free transport should be provided between the airports and it should be supervised by the airport department.
2) Preventing passengers from booking tickets with a small time gap between connecting flights in case the terminals are far away from each other. The online flight booking system needs to be updated to pick up on cases like these.
3) Also, if you are an airport worker or any other human in general, help those in need. Seriously.
Sticking to the theme (Hakuna Matata) of my blog posts, I must end on a positive note. I got a good blog post out of this and now I can possibly drink in the 'never have I ever' game in case we talk about missing flights *face palm*.  On that note, I come to the end of this post. I hope you enjoyed reading it.  
Signing off,
Nishma Khetia.

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