Praveen's Blog

An Eternal Quest for Incremental Improvement

Messed up flight

This is my second international trip. Everything remained the same as the first trip. A Saturday early morning British Airways flight to San Francisco departing from Bangalore (international?) airport. But this time, the trip was not as smooth as the last one. Three of us (me, Manoj and Partha) were traveling this time.

My bad luck started as soon as I left my home. One of my neighbor offered me a ride to the airport in his car. He sent his driver for me. In the midway, the tire got flattened. The poor driver didn't know how to replace the tire. I had to help him out. I was already half an hour late than my planned time. I kept my cool as I had given a 45 minutes tolerance to my plan.

Things went fine once I reached the airport. Baggage check-in, security checks, and boarding were all smooth. We were in the flight by 6:30 am. The flight was scheduled to depart at 6:45 am. I just sat back and relaxed. I was already very tired as I skipped the last night sleep to have a good sleep in the flight so that I can avoid jet-lag.

I just drowsed a bit and when I was back awake, it was 7:30 am and the flight is still in the place where we boarded. The captain of the flight was announcing that the take off is delayed because of the poor visibility of the runway. He said that the visibility is 200 m and we need at least 500 m visibility to take off. After 45 minutes of wait, things seemed to be improved. The captain said that the visibility is now 600 m and added that Bangalore airport needs a 1000 m visibility to clear the flight for take off. The flight finally took off at 8:45 am, a 2 hours delay.

The worst news was that with our actual schedule, we just had 1:45 minutes of connecting time in Heathrow airport. With this 2 hours delay, I was almost sure that we are gonna miss the connection flight. The captain announced that he is gonna try reaching faster. But, I didn't have hope about it. We have reached the Heathrow aiport 2 hours later than our scheduled arrival time. It was no wonder for me that our connection flight to San Francisco had already left. We had to sit tight in the flight for almost 30 minutes before they arranged a passenger stairs.

Once we got down the flight, we were separated. Two of us (me and Partha) were taken to Terminal 1 to board a flight leaving to Los Angeles. Manoj was staying in Terminal 4 to board a flight to Washington D.C. They had plans for our domestic connection to San Francisco from Los Angeles and Washington D.C. Me an Partha just finished the security checks and boarded the flight to Los Angeles. For a moment, I thought that things are gonna be fine.

We just reached Los Angeles on time. I had my I-94 form ready on landing. When I went to the "Immigration and border protection" counter, I was asked the routine questions like, "Why are you here?", "Where is your invite letter?", etc. At the end, to my shock, the office told me that they had to interview me for some clarifications and I can't go right away. I just had to wait. I saw that there were already a lot of people (Mexicans?) waiting there. I tried explaining the officer that I had to catch a flight to San Francisco at 8:15 pm and the time was already 7:00 pm. The officer told me that he can't do anything and people are served first come basis. I had to wait for a nasty 45 minutes before I was called for.

That interview got me dumb-folded. The lady who done the interview won't know what Sun Microsystems is. She won't know where is Menlo Park, Palo Alto, etc. Finally I realized that a confusion regarding my address in I-94 was the reason for this interview. I have mentioned my address in Newark, CA. But they thought it was Newark, New York. What can I say! The final result is that I missed my damn flight to San Francisco.

I approached the British Airways counter in the airport and luckily got an officer to help me out. They just got me a flight to San Francisco the next day 8:15 am and they got me a room in "Holiday Inn". In the mean time, Partha had left to San Francisco already. I just reached my hotel, dropped my cabin baggage, and roamed around the city for some time and finally bought some dinner for me from a KFC.

The next morning, I managed to get up early and went to the airport to catch the flight to San Francisco. I was not ready to miss anymore flights. Enough for the trip! But it looked as if the bad luck is not ready to get off from me. I was just taken by the security personnel in the airport for an exhaustive security checks. He did a lot of examinations and after 20 minutes, he said that I am clear to go and I don't have any explosives on me as they have suspected. Oh, my God! Why is it all happening to me! Finally I reached the San Francisco airport at 9:45 am (30 minutes delayed, never mind). The total delay of my trip was 16 hours.

To my surprise, Partha was still hanging around in the airport. I just met him and we were waiting for Manoj who was arriving from Washington D.C. at 11:30 am. Finally Manoj as well came in. Then we had to report a complaint for lost baggage and took the Supershuttle to our hotel.

The baggages were delivered pretty late. One of my baggage was damaged beyond tolerance. I am totally screwed up in this trip. I would never forget this, man!