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Rarely There

A collection of discourses - myriad, profound, uplifting...
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Friday, June 29, 2007

Hexcuse me, Kismet, here's the towel

Yes, are you listening, Kismet?

I throw in my towel.

Huh? back up a little bit, you say?

Well, for almost 10 years now, I've been visiting my brother in the east coast, flying in either from mid-west where I sojourned briefly, or from the beautiful Pacific Northwest where I've made my nest to roost for a while now.

And, every time, the journey cross country to visit him gets a bit more adventurous than called for.

Take the latest for example. A reasonably long 12-hour journey turned into a 24-hour series of misadventure.

Scheduled to: leave PDX a Wednesday night close to 11p.m, travel all night, and reach CLT around 7 a.m Thursday, then take the 9-something a.m flight from CLT to PVD, arrive PVD at about 11-something Thursday, then if all goes well, head out to Worcester, MA, arriving just fashionably late for a high-noon lunch the same day.

Instead, Kismet had to intervene, and drop us unceremoniously in Worcester, MA, ridiculously early for breakfast at 3 a.m on Friday morning.

Flight from PDX took off only about 1 hour late, which is practically on-time by today's standards, and all was well until we arrived in CLT. We still had about 30 minutes to rush to board the connection to PVD when we noticed that that flight was canceled.

OK. These things happen. So, we head over to find a Customer Service desk to assist us in reaching our destination. Now, we weren't the only privileged few to pick a canceled flight, as we found out when we saw the mile long line at the counter. Having no other choice, we waited impatiently, and when our turn came, dutifully tried to speed it up and said we could fly to BOS, if no PVD flights are available...

Let me make a note to self here: write down the name of the customer service representative who assisted you. It is always good to write a note of thanks, they will certainly appreciate it. But, on the off chance that they didn't quite do their job, at least you can write to their supervisor.

What with minding the baby and making sure my luggage moves along with me lest it be confiscated as abandoned, I didn't write down my rep's name except tucking away a piece of useless info that her coat lapel covered a name-badge which showed 'MMA' among others, and unless I reached over and adjusted her blazer, I had no hope of guessing her full name.

Anyway, she has been assisting many harried travelers, and not wanting to add to her aggravation, I tried to be accommodating, (no point in yelling at her and venting my frustration, she is just another overworked employee, trying to do her job), and took the booking she offered as our only option: a flight to LGA that leaves in 6 hrs, with confirmed seating; then from LGA, confirmed seating on a connecting flight to PVD.

Phew. OK, I can hang around the airport for 6 hours with my Baby. Not too bad I thought. Then, after about 5½hours, when it was close to boarding at CLT, the gate person told me that only my ticket is confirmed and Baby is on stand-by!!

say, What?!

Yes, and FAA regulation is that 2+ year old cannot be seated as a lap-child, and must have a seat. Right. I knew that, and hence I plonked hard-earned money on a confirmed ticket for her as well. And the 'MMA' at the counter that morning saw me with the Baby, assured me I have confirmed seats. Why else would I take that option?

Anyway, all she could say was, "let's hope someone doesn't make it to this flight and you can board with the baby".

By now a veteran traveler, Ana understood that when the lady says something nonsensical and loud, people form a line and board the plane. So, excited about getting on the plane after endless hours waiting around at the airport, Ana put on her little backpack, I put on mine and we headed to the gate-keeper lady who unceremoniously shoved us to the side so as to let the ticketed passengers through!

It was a Bloody Hell moment for me! I am a ticketed passenger. I had confirmed tickets all the way through. Until your inept colleague made one of my tickets stand-by!!

So, there we were, Baby repeating in that non-stop relentless tone that only toddlers can do: "A-pane, Ana ishio go a-pane. Amma, let's go... sit on a-pane?", and me fervently trying to keep my tears under control and my temper in check and mouthing silent prayers...

God seemed to have had a soft spot for us that day. There was an opening and we boarded the plane from CLT to LGA, via NGU.

Now, we reach NGU fine, when the captain announced that due to thunderstorms, there will be at least 2 hour delay in leaving NGU en route to LGA!! And, we were requested to stay on board...

So we did.

Then, when we were cleared for take off from NGU, it was obvious that we won't be able to make it to the connection in LGA to PVD. Resigning myself to another rerouting, we read a few books and Baby took a short nap.

Turns out, when we arrived in LGA, the connection to PVD was canceled, among other flights. So, the line at the Customer Service desk was about two miles long now...

And when I finally got my turn, they said they can only fly me out tomorrow at 11a.m to PVD. Now, I maybe a bit dense, but I catch on quickly. I knew there were no guarantees that that 11 a.m will leave on time, or even leave at all. What with Cancelation being the rage among flights nowadays...

And, as it was not an Act of God like snowstorm, but just the airline's private joke, they refused to put up the distraught passengers of canceled flights in hotels. And the hotels near LGA were booked full anyway...

Without baby's car seat, there was no point in renting a car and finishing the rest of the trip on the road...

Not wanting to spend another 16 hours in the airport waiting for the next flight out (which may or may not be canceled), we headed to Baggage Claim to, well, claim our baggage.

After about an hour of back-and-forth, during which time they convinced us our baggage has reached PVD and is not here in LGA, they finally located our baggage, by which time it was close to 8:30 p.m.

On an impulse, driven by the need to be on the move and get this whole journeying over with, we rushed to take the shuttle from LGA to Penn Station, found the last Greyhound bus for the night that can drop us in Worcester, MA at 3 a.m., managed to get on it.

So, here I am... wondering if there is another side to this story. I mean, if there isn't (and I am not able to see one), I have concluded that it is best to throw in the towel and let Kismet know that Enough is Enough...

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Blogger B o o said...

Three words: Oh. My. God.
Reading this post was exhausting! I would have gone nuts!

3:11 PM  
Blogger Jayarama Krishnan said...

Well, as I learnt from Calvin's dad, and since I'm sure flying saucepans flung at me won't make it half way around the world, " I guess you built character" :D :D :D

But seriously, I thought I had one of the worst reroutings, when I had to travel PDX-IAD-JFK-FRA-BOM-HYD-BLR! If we compute the frustration-per-mile, and frustration-per-hour, you beat me to it!!!

Heart goes out for poor Ana and you!

1:47 AM  
Blogger Kay said...

Wow! What a nightmare!!!

Sheela, I don't know what I'd have done, but you did great, girl!

2:20 PM  

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