Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The jinx continues ...

Traveling alone in the US is jinxed for me.

My very first solo trip in the US was anything but smooth. I had been in the US for about 4 months, and traveling alone to Detroit (via Greyhound) didn't seem like a big deal. Little did I know that my 5 hour trip to Detroit will eventually take 34 painful hours. A snow storm started just before the bus was about to leave Cincinnati. We were then re-routed to Columbus (as other interstates were closed) and everyone was forced to spend the night in the Greyhound station in Columbus. The station was totally crowded as many other buses too had been routed to Columbus. Although it was the 23rd of December, there was no Christmas cheer going around. Everyone looked grumpy and angry for being forced to stay in the bus station with no idea when the buses would start. Whenever the Greyhound staff weren't being customer friendly, there were quite a few outbursts that bordered on getting out of control. I got really scared and spent the entire night sitting awake in the dark, inside the bus, holding on to my luggage. I didn't have a cell-phone, my cash and my calling-card were running out, and I had to survive on the leftovers from the vending machine which was empty in an hour (no other Veggie food was available). We were constantly told not to leave the station as the buses might start anytime. The buses started the next afternoon, we got lost on our way to Detroit as the driver didn't know the directions and with some passengers help, the bus finally made it to Detroit - 30 hours late!!

And now, to the latest of my jinxed trips.

I was flying to NJ by Delta. The flight was on a Saturday morning at 9:15. It was a direct flight to Newark and I was to reach NJ by 11:15AM. I was at the airport by 7:00 and was at the gate by 8:00. However, boarding didn't start until 9:00, and then, an announcement was made that the flight was delayed till 9:30 as a crew member was missing. The flight kept getting delayed from 9:30 to 9:45, 10:00, 10:15 and 10:30 and they still couldn't find the crew member. Around 10:45, they announced that the flight was canceled because the missing crew member was the pilot. Grrrrrrrr. Immediately there was chaos and a big rush to get into the next Newark flight. The next flight was at 1PM but I couldn't get a confirmed ticket in it. I was placed 4th on the waiting list and had to wait 2 more hours at another gate with not much to do. The other flight too got delayed but eventually took off at 1:45 along with everyone and the 3 people ahead of me in the waiting list. I was then booked on the next flight to Newark which was on the next day at 3PM. I had spent more than 7 hours at the airport waiting for my flight only to be asked to return the next day. GRRRRRRRR.

I wish it had ended there. The next day, I was sitting in the same gate area at 2PM. It was 2:45, the same delta agent came to the desk, picked up the mic and said "Sorry for the delay, we are missing a crew member and will begin boarding as soon the crew member arrives." Another terrifying 25 minutes later, the crew member (yeah, the pilot) arrived and the boarding began at 3:30. After going through the security instructions, just when the plane was about to take off, we were asked to deplane as the take off was delayed because of "bad weather" at the Newark airport. I got off the plane, called my brother and told him that the flight was delayed again. He checked the weather and told me that the weather was perfectly fine at the Newark airport. I went to the delta agent and told him about the weather and asked him if the flight was going to be canceled. He went to ask another agent who then told me that the reason for delay was not weather but some "air traffic" issues. Another painful hour or so later, we were asked to board the plane and the flight finally took off.

PS1: I still had another mis-adventure to face at the Newark airport to collect my checked baggage. I waited for about 30 minutes at the baggage claim but my suitcase didn't come through. Hoping that it had arrived earlier (since I had checked it on the previous day itself) I went to the delta office. The person there, verified my information and told me that my luggage had been sent to Louisiana. After 20 minutes of doing God knows what, she realized that she had entered my baggage code wrong. My baggage had made the flight I couldn't, and had been waiting for me at the Newark airport !!

PS2: If you have any patience left, you can read another such instance here. Curiously, that was a Delta flight too.

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