Friday, December 20, 2013

Keeping Your Wits About You

A person has to keep their wits about them when traveling in another country.  The rules and procedures in the airports in India are a case in point.  Where to begin? We started this morning on a trek that will take us to Addis Ababa , Ethiopia, to celebrate Christmas, New Year, and our family being together on one continent.   We committed two beginners’ mistakes this morning that raised my blood pressure just a little.  First, in some cities in India, there are separate airports for international and domestic flights.  Not separate terminals, but airports in different places, though usually close together.  No problem, we knew we were taking a domestic flight to Mumbai, and were on another flight to Addis.  Or were we????  Actually, there is an exception to this rule, and its name is AIR INDIA.   It is owned by federal government; as a consequence, they do what they want.  Our driver left us at the domestic airport, and drove away.  We only got as far as the first door, where an Indian Army soldier handed me back the mandatory paper e-ticket (they sometimes take the info on your smart phone, but don’t count on it.) and announced, “Wrong  airport.”  As soon as he said it, I asked where the prepaid taxi stand was, because I then remembered I’d committed this error last year in Jaipur once.  Air India often flies their domestic flights out of the international airports but not always.  See, they do what they want! 
Ok, no emergency, we had some cushion time.  We waited for our flight gate to be announced, which they finally did when they said, “Board, we’re at this gate.  Find us and get on.” or something like that.  The number of times your identity is checked and the bags counted, weighed, and scanned is probably about 3 times what it was the last time I went through any other airport, but we’re used it…. Or so we thought.  After you ticket all your carry-on with a tag, it has to travel through another scanner.  At this juncture if your bag passed inspection, someone will stamp your tag, and you’re off.

Steve got as far as the bag check before you get on the bus which takes you to the plane when he got pulled over and was told to return to GO to collect a missing stamp on one of his carry-on pieces.  Luckily it’s not a big airport, but still, I got on my bus and wondered if this would be one of those times where we weren’t destined to fly together…We’ve had other snafus, so we’re used to it, probably too used to it, but here I sit waiting for the plane to leave with S at my side reading his Kindle.  Let the vacation begin!  Oh, and we DO remember to keep our boarding passes close at hand, even after we’ve boarded, because there is no end to the number of times officials want to see your boarding pass, even after you’ve reached your destination, and are trying to leave the airplane, the airport, or any secure area.  They want to make sure you know where you’re going, I guess.

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