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Pt 1: Mutiny on Air India

I might have a bit of a reputation for crazy plane delays, re-routings, and other bad luck on long journeys. Nik might have even worse luck than me. So we should probably have been more prepared for a less-than-smooth trip from Bangkok to Amritsar, but a comedy of errors from us and Air India led to an unexpected 48 hour journey. Here’s the rough retroactive time-blog:

Nov 19

9pm: online check-in won’t go through for our international flight: Bangkok > Delhi > Amritsar. No big deal, we’ll check-in live tomorrow morning. It’s a 9am flight so we’ll wake up at 6 to subway there.

9/20

6:45am: Google Maps’ routing seems a bit weird. This might take longer than we expected.

8:02am: It turns out that Air India’s check-in desk closes 60 minutes before departure, which is 58 minutes from now. There’s time, there’s will, but there’s no way in. There goes flight #1.

10am: $12 worth of international phone calls later and we’re booked on the same itinerary tomorrow. Back to Bangkok for a Saturday night and let’s try this again.

9/21

7:30am: through security with plenty of time to spare!

9am: still waiting at the gate at departure time, so...guessing we’re delayed?

9:45am: “Hello ladies and gentlemen. Due to a technical issue, this flight is delayed. The new departure time will be 10am. We will board as soon as possible.” hmmm

11am: new departure time set for 11:15am. Funny pattern.

12pm: Coupons for coffee and vague directions to find the new gate.

1:30pm: new departure time 1:45pm. Pattern seeming less funny.

2:15pm: new departure time set for 2:30pm. The connection on our 5-hour layover slips away.

2:30pm: we’re boarding! Maybe if they make up time in the air we’ll make it…

3:30pm: we’ve boarded, but now we’re just sitting here and it seems the AC doesn’t work. I’m watching Captain America on the seatback and sweating like I’m in one of the battle scenes myself.

4pm: still no AC, still no movement, no announcement from the captain and I’m not sure where the crew is because Nik has started passing out water in the aisles himself.

4:30pm: “Please deboard.” (Actually it took about 4 announcements and some shouting, but that was the gist).

4:45pm: This is chaos. It’s like they’ve never deboarded a plane before. Nobody from the airline seems to know whether we should stay at the gate or leave. It’s actually not that clear who even works for the airline. One person who was at the gate is leading a group to exit through customs, but there are two customs areas plus a ‘special customs’ area and about a third of the group heads to each. A security guard has NIk’s passport and started to walk away with it. After chasing him down we scramble to find part of the group again, because there’s no central place to go get information, so that’s really our only hope. There’s rumors of a hotel in Bangkok for the night but no clarity how we get there, when we’d fly out, or who can tell us these things. The flight crew look even more confused than we are, and apparently each has different information because they are yelling at eachother in Thai. I actually feel more pity than frustration - having nothing on the calendar for, well ever, helps ease stress.

5pm: a new rumor spreads just before we exit customs - the flight ‘might’ take off after all in a couple hours. You can wait at the gate or go to the hotel, but if you leave the airport there’s no getting back in.

5:30pm: someone from Air India confirms those rumors after 30 minutes of questions. Sure, someone else from Air India denies them but we’re taking the optimistic approach

6:30pm: more food/drink vouchers

7:30pm: we’re boarding! (again)

8pm: still seems to be no air conditioning. It is HOT

9pm: so, we’re still sitting here with no AC. The crew has no idea what’s happening; seems like the captain is telling them exactly as little as he’s telling us. A lot of passengers are getting angry. One just led a group up from the back and yelled to the plane “Will you stand with us! This is unacceptable. We need to stand and make them tell us what is going on in front!” Another group tells him to ‘give it 10 more minutes, and then we will go.” Are we literally about to have a mutiny onboard?

9:05pm: plane starts moving. Is it bad I’m slightly disappointed we didn’t get to see what would happen in 5 minutes?

11:30pm-2am: flight lands in Delhi and we work with ~19 Air India staff to find our way to a hotel for the night (aka 2 hours) before our new flight to Amrtisar at 7am tomorrow - check-in by 5am latest.

9/22:

4:30am: wake-up. 2 hours of sleep sucks.

5am: airport, check-in, security, gate. 90 minutes before boarding. Try to stay awake.

8am: land in Amritsar, taxi to hotel, check-in, pass out.

9am: part 1 officially ends, and part 2 is about to begin. And oh how different it would be.

#India #stories

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