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.

Sunday

Airplane Seat-Mate from Hell! Rate for your worst nightmare.




Who is that someone you hope NOT to sit with on your next flight!

I know- it's hard, but select only one:-)