Tuesday

Stressful travel stories

The combination of horrible weather, backlog of cancelled flights, unexpected storms, heavy rains, politicians, technical snags anything can kick up a storm of logistical nightmares for a traveler.

Two such incidences: Thanks to some heavy heavy rains in Delhi two years ago, I was stuck spending more time than originally planned in that city. I was there so long, my friends dad beat me at cards, I dined on left overs, sat in a traffic snarl in a horridly smelly damp rented car for over 4 hours, missed my flight, waited an eternity at the airport till finally the boarding was announced.

Before my plane took off (on time) and everyone was jostling about in the aisle finding space to throw their cabin bags, seats, etc. a middle-aged guy asked if I minded swapping seats so he could sit with his family. Typically I don’t entertain such requests ever, but for reasons unknown to me I agreed to swap seats. No sooner did I plop down in the window seat, than this 400-pounder comes barreling down the aisle and beelines for the middle seat, adjacent to mine. Now, I really do understand the plight of the larger-bodied among us, but at a certain point, you have to stop and say to yourself "I no longer fit on a single airplane seat and no amount of wishful thinking will make it otherwise!." This guy? not so much. He squeezes in between the seats and flops down on top of me. Literally, on top of me - like pulls up the armrest and sits with one engorged ass cheek on my lap. Not only that, but for the next 5 minutes (yes, I let this go on for 5 minutes) he stares daggers down the front of my sweater!!

Finally I caught the eye of a steward and immediately requested for a more "comfortable seat" and the fat guy lost it at my request! He started screaming about how fat people are villianized and how he paid as much as I did for a seat, on and on. Finally, once he calmed down, I told him that's fine but I was really more concerned about the fact that he was rude and stared at me without blinking which I found very offensive.

I wish it ended there but no my troubles weren’t over yet. I was moved to a seat across the aisle from this rude fat guy and he spent the next 2 hours intensely glaring at me – Now tell me can bad luck really be badder than this?:)

This next incidence happened almost a year ago.

It was supposed to be an 11 hour transit in Brussels en-route home. The shuttle got me inside the airport. Upon arriving inside the terminal I lugged my cabin baggage up and down the entire length and breadth of the airport many times over, I even picked up 3 more carry bags from duty free. As if my current load was not enough! I still had 10 hours to board my flight home. I trudged towards the business lounge and found a comfortable perch for myself. Had a snack, washed it down with a drink, my flight was many many many hours away, it felt like time had gone still. I doodled on my sketch pad, wrote a few para’s of my observations, walked towards an automated kiosk to check if I should/could have stepped out of the airport into the city for a short sight seeing trip, that’s when I realized that not only was my flight no more 9hours away but had been canceled due to bad weather!

Courtesy a co-passenger knocking a glass of water down on my foot, that had me duck for cover and to find my equilibrium back I stared at a nearby cctv for eons together, without seeing anything. And then toink! It registered! It was snowing hard outside and I had not the foggiest clue till now! , and I learned my flight to home was canceled! It was now some time in the evening, and I was hungry. I was stuck at the airport, the food and closed in smells of the airport lounge were making me nauseous, I needed to walk some and breathe natural air. I walked out of the lounge back into the airport lobby – all shops had a deserted look, there were very few people inside the terminal; all the restaurants and sandwich bars were located beyond security, in the gate areas. I could not pass security now, as my flight was canceled, so I was stuck.

All flights to and from the airport were canceled, and the airport essentially closed. I would not be able to fly out until the next day, at least. By this time, all the hotel rooms had been booked, so I was stuck sleeping in my puffy winter coat back inside the lounge. I spent a few hours aimlessly browsing my computer as I contemplated my fate. I wandered around a forlorn looking airport, carrying my heavy bags. By now I had tasted all the foods and ice creams on offer and gained unnecessary calories. Almost time to have boarded my scheduled flight, which now was canceled, I ambled over to yet another corner in this premium, to myself lounge, and made myself comfortable on a large leather sofa. Soon I was snuggled into a crouch and drifting to sleep, when a Sheraton staff gently awoke me and said the brightest words ever. “We have a room for you- you can rest there till your flight is announced” – and I allowed this lady to shepherd me to a king sized bed with snuggly pillows for the best night of sleep I had ever had. I awoke refreshed and happy the next morning, ready to board my plane. Sadly, that flight remained canceled for another 15hours. And finally I was scheduled on a new flight. A woman ahead of me bitched shrilly that she had been waiting for three hours or so after her flight was canceled. I calmly informed her that I had been stuck at the airport for over 38 hours, and she mercifully shut up.

Finally, I boarded my flight home arrived late 2 nights later than my scheduled arrival, exhausted and cranky. I still had papers to work on, and I had gotten nothing done during my extended stay at the airport. I waited for a long time at baggage claim, only to discover that my luggage had been lost, and would be delivered to our home. It arrived two days later.
Maybe you have stories that make mine look timid. So tell me about yours.

10 comments:

Anon said...

Just wanted to tell you i love reading your blog and promptly do so every-time you put up a new post!!

Keep it going!

Cheers and seasons greetings !

Vera

ashish said...

I am very tempted to give some wise pearls here- but some things cannot be taught -- you've just got to get the feel of the road. Always remember that it's the journey, not the destination, and too much fun is always an oxymoron:)

Jim said...

My humble take on this post: My 10 Commandments for Road travel:)

(If you can't follow these, you simply need to stay home.)

I. A road trip is the supreme panacea that cures all.
II. Thou shalt not put any other trips before it.
III. Love thy Fellow Tripper as thyself. I mean, unless, of course, he demurs.
IV. Honor thy Father and thy Mother by sparing them any details.
V. Thou shalt not kill a road tripper's story by blowing the punch line.
VI. Thou shalt not comment on adultery.
VII. Thou shalt not steal. But do work on comps and freebies.
VIII. Thou shalt, nay, must, bear false witness for another tripper.
IX. Thou shalt not covet anyone thy fellow tripper has designs on.
X. Thou shalt not covet thy fellow tripper's goods. Force him to share.

RavneetSingh said...

A few tips from a frequent flyer: Read the Travel recommendations on the Web site; don't take change in your pockets; and put your keys in your carry-on. This will help get through security faster.

Use curbside check-in and print your boarding passes before you go to the airport. I am traveling alone today and I will be at the airport three hours early with my boarding pass in hand. I will check my bags at the curb and then go park my car. Easy.

Join a frequent flyer plan and try to stay on the same airline and fly nonstop whenever possible. I will be at the airport this afternoon four hours before my flight leaves hanging out in the WorldPerks club. Delays can happen but I guess I've been lucky to not have a delay longer than 30 minutes for any of my flights around the U.S. this year. Pre-planning helps a bunch.

Have a great and safe Christmas!

gita said...

I am just back from Barcelona and here is one narration that might help

Bus- these guided bus tours operate around the city and are described by many as the best way of seeing the city's sights. It is recommended to book online before going in order to avoid queuing on the day. BUT people will queue for 2 hours just to catch the bus. If it rains, the top decks will be all closed so only half the usual number of passengers can board. If you don't have time for this and decide instead to make your own way to each place beware the bus company may refuse to refund your tickets.

Try getting around by taxi which is quick, easy and during the day when the tariff is cheaper than the evening; you may not pay much more than €5 to get from one place to another. The queues at all the major sights can be really long with hours of waiting around, especially La Pradrera and the Picasso Museum, where the queues can extend for miles.

When it rains and rains, it is impossible to see anything much except the Park Guell which still looks beautiful despite terrible weather. Tourist go with such high hopes of seeing all things Gaudi and Picasso but unfortunately may come home disappointed. Nowhere offers fast track tickets (like Thorpe Park), pre-booked entrance times (like The London Eye) or any other way of speeding up the entry process, unless you are travelling in a group (10 or more usually). Perhaps teaming up with some others in the queue to make a group could be the answer!

:)

Anon said...

Wishing you the very best in the coming year. Really love reading your blogs. You are so creative & amazing

Seema D

http://abebedorespgondufo.blogs.sapo.pt/ said...

Merrt Cristmas.
Portugal

Shweta said...

Your horrid experience was quite gripping. I think if somebody had accompanied u, situation would have eased out a bit. Ofcourse , since uncertainty looms on everyone's head, u never know when one can get caught alone to face such things.

Admirer said...

When are we going to see a picture of you Mee?

Mee said...

@Vera- ty:)

@Ash- yep:)
@Jimmy -o absolutely!

@RS-:)

@Gits- heee:)

@Seema- to you too:)

@Merry xmas Portugal:)

@Sheta- perhaps

@Admirer- the narrations tell the story- I am merely the medium:)