I haven’t written for a while, but here’s the last chapter in my India follies.
Of course this also involves Airplanes and my ongoing battle with the rules of flight in India. It seems the rules for what you can and cannot have in your checked baggage differs when you come from US and when you got to US using Air India. Going from US, they don’t care what you have in your checked in bags.. and this is important as you will soon see.
Coming from Mumbai is a totally different story.. You can’t have ANY external power packs in your checked in bags! Of course you don’t know this till AFTER you come to the airport!
Mumbai airport is a very modern and beautiful airport. Unless of course you are flying with Air India! Air India is a government owned airline of India and with that comes the perils of dealing with anything that is government related in India. Incompetence!
My daughter and I got to the airport early so we could check in before the crowds.. Wrong! Air India will not allow you to check in unless it’s 2 hours before the flight. God forbid you come 3 hours earlier.. you are out of luck.. you need to be there 2 hours before flight time.. This is to ensure you hit the long lines and crowds!
We got there 3 hours early and there were no lines.. so naturally we tried to check in.. but we were told in no certain terms to come back when in an hour when it was two hours before boarding.. Don’t ask.. I asked why and the person behind the counter said, that it’s the rules and they follow the rules!
So my daughter and I walked away and sat nearby.. So can you guess what happened when it was 2 hours before boarding? The checkin line snaked around the terminal!
After we got to the counter (about an hour later).. they found one of my bags was overweight by 4 lbs.. so they tell me to go the “payment counter” to pay overweight fees. I just shook my head and went to the counter.. and you can guess what happened next!
Nobody there! The person on duty had apparently gone on break or something and nobody else could do his job.. Anyway, the guy shows up about 20 mins later and by this time, I’m furious.. He gives me some lame excuse.. saying he had to step away on an “urgent issue”.. So I pay my punishment fee ($100) and check in..
While I check in I notice a sign which says that no power packs are allowed in checked bags.. I of course didn’t think I had any in my bag! Wrong again!
We check in and walk towards the gate.. and this is when the fun begins!
They call my name at the gate and take me to a soldier who tells me that there is a problem with my baggage. Of course by this time.. I’ve passed through multiple security checks and they wouldn’t let me out of the secured area with the soldier.. after a few minutes of discussion.. they did let me out..
The soldier takes me a few levels down into the bowels of the airport.. and I’m getting more and more nervous.. When I get to the security room, they tell me that they found 6 (yes 6) power packs and it’s not allowed! They bring my bag and tell me to open it.. of course this is as good time as any for my keys to NOT work with the locks. I tell them to break the locks and they tell me “No sir, we cannot do that, that is not allowed!”.
I finally got my bag opened and by this time I’m surrounded by multiple army soldiers! I’m sweating profusely by this time.. I find 1, 2, 3 and tell them can I go now? They say no.. there are 6 and they want all of them found in the bag!.. So everything comes out of my packed bag and we find all 6 power cells. I even tell them.. they can confiscate them and they say to me: “No Sir, we cannot do that.. that is not allowed. You need to take your power cells as part of your carry on baggage”.
By this time, my exasperation level is beyond exhaustion.. I say “whatever, just give me something to carry the power cells in” and they oblige.. Keep in mind by this time the time is approaching departure and my daughter is on board and I’m in the bowels of the airport.. Fun right?
So the soldier escorts me back to my gate and I have to go through security a third time and finally get on the plane.. Picture this.. me sweating profusely and my daughter asking me “what happened Dad, they were announcing that the flight was delayed due to a baggage issue with a passenger”.. Can you guess who that was? Me!
We finally take off and by this time I’m just drained of all my life. I vowed that I will never fly Air India again.. to save a few hundred dollars.
Lesson to be learned here: Don’t assume that you know the rules of baggage when it comes to travel to India.. and listen carefully to the rules!
So basically, overtime I traveled in India by air, I had different issues.. I guess I just need to stay local!