This is your captain speaking....

The bone tired group comprising my wife, son, Oza (a friend & colleague who travelled with us) and me had just settled into a disturbed nap in the plane after the evening snack, when the captain’s nasal voice broke through the hazy mist of sleep enveloping us “We will shortly be landing on time at Newark, the weather is fine, slight winds….and so on…

I sat up with a jolt, the others were still in the grips of Kumbhakarana…What the bloody heck, and we were supposed to be going to Baltimore (Washington!)? Oh! I moaned, now what??

After a rough 4 days in the burning sun at Orlando’s Disneyworld, we were drained and glad to be on the next leg of our US tour, this leg a stay with my cousin sis…We were late to the Orlando airport, reaching the desk a few minutes before the flight departed. Now this was ages ago in 1989, much before 9/11 and the such happened, so things were pretty cool in US. The lady at the counter bellowed that she would send the baggage through and suggested we speed up (meaning RUN RUN….)our move towards the departure gate. Which we did, Ozabhai was distraught, his back was acting up and he had not planned for all this. Anyway we reached gate 87 which looked closed, but the gate next to it was open and a lady stood there, compact in hand, painting her lips.

I stopped for a moment, wondering what to do and approached the lady at gate 88. She took a quick look at the boarding passes and said go on. Ozabhai behind me cautioned, Dekho ye kuch gadbad lagtahai, hamara gate 87 he na? I snapped at him, ‘look Ozabhai, don’t worry she has checked our boarding passes & waved us through. It is ok’. Oza looked blank and kept mum, after all I was the travel group leader..

That was an hour ago, now we here we are 25000’ above sea level and headed for an unplanned stopover in NY.Sheepishly I woke Oza up and admitted ‘ha ji, ozabhai, gadbad to ho gaya…’ Oza kept mum. Well, the plane landed in Newark, and I decided that offence is the best form of defence, walked up to the counter and complained about the inefficiency of the ground staff and so on and so forth plus the fact that we were tourists on a first visit to US. The lady there listened patiently and stated that we had nothing to worry; she rebooked us on a morning flight to Baltimore and sent us off to a nice hotel in Manhattan with dinner coupons & a Limo…plus pick up the next morning.

My cousin, who was waiting to receive us at the airport that evening, saw our bags go by, but not us…She was allowed to go into the plane to check if we were asleep or something (believe me, all this was possible in the late 80’s). Not finding us she went home, wondering what had happened. No mobile phones those days, so it was only hours later that she knew we were spending the night in Manhattan..

Well, the next morning we flew to Baltimore without any problems and arrived in time for lunch…I frequented Delta, the airline that took good care of us, since then.

Now – compare the scenario at airports these days, post 9/11. Gone are the nice & cheery airline staff. Surly looks on every face, snappy attendants and poor overall service, no wonder the airline business is in doldrums..


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Shankari said…
wow, your cousin could inside the plane to check if you dozed feels like ancient times after 9/11