Wednesday, April 25, 2007

to IXE

12:00 AM: The Boeing 747 jet swooned low over the city, right by the roads and the apartments, and there was a difference, yea it was the lack of skyscrapers unlike most of the US cities and international stopovers. There we were at Bangalore 'international' airport.

Disembarkation was a short smart process. Once outside of the immigration zone, you get a true feeling of being in India. Haphazard crowds waiting for their baggage, no indication whatsoever of which one of the conveyor belts we needed to be at, when we did find the right conveyor belt for our baggage, we were pointed to a few pieces of luggage strewn over the floor near the belt, don't know how it ended up on the floor... After a long wait for the luggage… yea the bags did travel long from IAH to FRA and then to BLR! and amidst the typical Indian scenes of an official on the conveyor belt and after testing my kannada with the porters who seemed to think I wouldn't be able to push around a trolley with my luggage on, it was to the customs, just walked right through.

Based on advice which turned out to be invaluable, I decided to wait out 6 of those 8 hours in the sitting area within the departure terminal itself. An 8 hour wait for a 30 minute flight! With my Toshiba gigabeat and its excellent battery life and Mary Jane Clark's 'Hide yourself away' to keep me company I still can't say the 8 hours felt like 2 hours!!

It is a virtual pounding once outside the departure terminal, 'Taxi, Madam'...'Auto, Madam' I wonder at the sanity of that statement, would I have been able to fit my entire luggage into an auto?

The domestic terminal is okay, almost good…anyway my flight was advanced by half an hour and I had to check the additional luggage in!, Indian flight standards… allowing only one handbag!

We had to walk to the airline… I've always loved walking to the plane, triggering memories of all the times as kids when we walked to the board the flight at bajpe.

Jet Airways, BLR- IXE : Despite us boarding on time, we ended up waiting on the runway as a number of flights were queued up to take off. A drink and breakfast later, that's all this short flight has time for, we could see the familiar plains of Mangalore... The landing awesome as always, amidst the elevation almost as if into a gorge... Jet Airways, no complains almost always...

Mangalore international airport, yes, in this one year it has been elevated to international status and the signage looked welcoming.

03/28/07 3:25 PM CST to 03/30/07 9:30 AM IST
to Home sweet home

Saturday, April 21, 2007

10000 miles

A journey of a close to 10000 miles to and fro and 6 flights later...

The journey started at Houston - IAH, George Bush airport, my first time in the international terminal here and its not unlike any other airport I've seen in the US, infact all of them are pretty similar. However the duty free seemed good, lot of Texas souvenir stuff to choose from, bought a couple and a couple of 'Don't Mess with Texas tees'. The only other airlines I've traveled with in the past... East West, Indian Airlines, Air India and British Airways not including the domestic US airlines. Enough for a comparison?, maybe, maybe not...

On flight :- Lets start with IAH to Frankfurt on Lufthansa...Pricey but comfortable is what I'd heard of this airline from a few of my colleagues, pricey yea it was...but comfortable....hmm... well... the experience wasn't particularly great or better than the only other long distance carrier, BA, I've traveled with in the past, more so it was slightly horrendous. The journey was jerky and turbulent but obviously that's just beyond a muggler's( is that the plural of muggle)control.

Economy class seats... well they are just like economy class seats! even tho the business and first class looked really cool...complete with top level seating. Dinner was okay, complete with a number of rounds of beverages, alcoholic and not.
Inflight entertainment totally sucks in EClass. I wasn't even able to switch to Video mode on my headphones, the flight attendant tried all that i tried and then just gave up, Marie Antoinette was one of the movies on, but couldn't watch it. The headphones, not international standards at all, kept slipping off, size fits a person with a big head, and adjustable only a certain limit!.. continental airlines provides the better clip on type ones! take a page from their book lufthansa!

This was the worst one: Every time i tried reclining my seat even a little bit the passenger from behind(lets call her backseat lady) would completely push it upright, tried it a couple of times only to hear muttering and cursing from behind. Finally I could take it no longer and had to summon the flight attendant, she spoke about rights to the backseat lady!!! and reclined my seat, finally i thought i could get some sleep... weird thing was that backseat lady had reclined her own seat... wow

I was sitting in the middle section, four seats and i had an aisle seat. My co-passenger... well he reeked when he got into his seat itself and a number of Lufthansa served 'beverages' later including a spill of wine on my shirt sleeve and after all the passing around of 'beverages', and hanging out with friends in the aisle, he wanted to switch seats with me. I must say this, I hate middle seats but if I had to count the number of times he had got out of his seat and the number of times he was likely to get out of his seat, well the mathematics and statistics was starting to give me a headache, even though i had a 100 and 99 in these subjects respectively in my PU2 boards...ditching the numbers and using my better judgment i took up on his offer and switched seats. Some hours of sleep later and we were in Germany.

Frankfurt airport: Huge and beautiful, the duty free shops...very inviting, very European. Passengers from US flights could directly go the gates without a security check, with my previous experience in an aisle seat, i decided to switch the seat allocated to me which was 'aisle' again for a window and was able to get one, the last one available. A cursory check of the bags is done at the gate itself before boarding, he just lifts up the bag with his hand and if he feels its over then asks you to check it in. I was carrying a trolley kind of bag, which was beyond permissible hand baggage limits and was asked to check it in, but since i was one of the last passengers to get my bags checked, and all the luggage was already sent to the cargo hold or wherever... they let me board with my extra 4 kgs worth of goods!

On flight : The seat change was a good one, found myself in the tail of the airplane. The usual side section held 3 seats , however the last three only had 2 and i was in the penultimate row. There's a little space between the seat and the window, i.e. i couldn't lean against the window. Nice co-passenger, cute well-behaved kid in the seat in front and a comfortable seat for a good sleep. Headphones were working fine this time around but same style and they kept slipping off, no chance that my head could have grown bigger en route to Frankfurt from Houston. A Boolywood flick was on, watched only a bit before dozing off, Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar, Preity Zinta, don't care enough to look up the name... some day.

Adjusted my watch to IST and some 9 hours later we landed in Bangalore, India... back after exactly a year.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

my tryst with an overbooked flight

Lufthansa on my flight out from Bangalore to Frankfurt offered me 600 euros, acco and a guaranteed flight out exactly 24 hrs later if I was willing to give up my seat, seems like they were overbooked by quite a few numbers. The deal was awesome; I would have recovered half my trip cost and needless to say I pondered on it for a second and sadly only for a second and none too longer.

Well, I’ll blame it on the Bangalore airport for the lack of pondering time, after an awful long wait outside the departure terminal in abject conditions made better only by the fact that I had a friend waiting with me and an equally long wait in a queue to get into the ‘departure’ terminal I seemed to have lost all ability to ponder for more than a second, and if I do believe under any other circumstances and greater than a second of pondering time, I would have pounced on the deal!