The airline which I prefer to call as A2 has set expectations with its passengers for its inevitable delay across all flights. Be it domestic or international, peak season or off-season, delay is always on the cards. Having faced it many a times I booked my connecting domestic flight with a gap of 3 hours after the A2 international one lands. People were teasing me saying that it was unnecessary caution and this time the airline was going to be on time. I just laughed it off but secretly was planning what to do for the 3 hours – Novel? Magazine? Candy Crush? Sleep? Window-shop? Or sit and wonder what to do for 3 hours?
Honestly, I did not know if I was to feel happy that my precaution paid off or to feel unhappy when the airline announced the late departure of my flight by an hour. To be just with both emotions, I felt happy for half hour and sad for the next half hour. Whatever was the emotion, the 1 hour was up which was the main goal. Timepass with the Mind!
I still have 2 hours for transit was the last thing the mind thought of when there was the next announcement – No free runway. A holiday season busy airport. You come late to the lecture hall in High School and still expect to find a seat in a session on Sex Education? (And those who did sit through the session will tell you that it didn’t have anything you expected though. )
15 minutes ticked, found a runway but no place to park the aircraft – or whatever you call the process of disembarking the passengers.
25 minutes later, I was on board. I still have about 1 hour 20 minutes interval between the next flight. Am just waiting to boast to my friends about my cool foresight. Or did I speak too soon?
Slept; well fed; landed.
Immigration Queue – Have you heard about the Law of Queues?
“Law of Queue: If you change queues, the one you have left will start to move faster than the one you are in now.”
Add this to it – “And all dumb heads will get into the same line you are in.” (Because you are one too – Let’s get to it later.)
Maybe stupidity is in the air in that queue and all the like-minded fools get attracted to that one like bees to a nectar rich flower and the geniuses get repelled into different queues like coming across a guy with an overdose of an obnoxious perfume. I seriously think I can stand the stench of the Coovum River better than these pungent perfumes.
My only pass time now is to observe my fellow queue-mates – One guy doesn’t know why he has come to this country; one doesn’t know flight number that he just took to fill in the immigration form; one refuses to remove the face scarf so that the immigration officer can see the person’s face before stamping the passport; one apparently has some visa issues and one huge family crowd the counter together as if a group entry entitles a discount. You ask what my stupidity is to match these folks? Isn’t queuing up in this line a good enough testimony?
One hour to rush to the domestic departure.
Queue up again at the baggage screening counter near the exit. Seriously, what do people carry in so many bags and how do they manage to? The huge family, from my line earlier, of 6 adults and 2 kids had 11 check-in bags and 10 cabin/hand bags. What in the world do you transport between countries? Import Export business? My meek small cabin bag had to wait until all their giants went through.
50 minutes, rush, rush.
Hopped onto the shuttle to the domestic airport and right after me walks in an elderly lady with 2 huge bags on her trolley. Why, just Why? Why do you want to carry so much around? The courteous driver loaded the bags onto the vehicle and helped her get in. Thankfully without waiting any further he vroomed and zoomed.
40 minutes, get to the counter for a boarding pass, quick.
And, why didn’t I check-in online and print the pass myself? No, not my stupidity this time; the airline did not have online check-in facility for people with one-way tickets. But no worries, the display board says there are 4 counters to cater to the passenger; I can glide through quickly.
There are 1,2,3….6,7 , seven people in the queue. Will all 8 of us make it on time? Yes, we could if all the mentioned 4 counters were open but alas, 3 were closed. (Staff out for a fag break I suppose, and in a group for a discount at the chai-wala?)
Panic wants to enter me – I can’t contact my friends waiting at the destination airport if I miss the flight, I don’t have a local number, and there aren’t any pay phones around – I need to drop this piece of suggestion in the Airport’s Feedback Box – To install payphones. Oh I deviated. Dear Mind, stop your random thoughts, for now I need to panic. But somehow the calmness of the people ahead of me in the line intrigued me. The elderly lady from the shuttle joined after me in the line. I gave her a weak smile and she said, “Yeah I know, delays, can’t help”.
What? How does she know I am running late? I don’t remember speaking to her. And she herself is late. I can at least run to the gate, she definitely can’t. I need to note this in my head – Retirement Plans should include gymming. I need to be physically fit when I am a granny to run to the gates. Gosh, I never can understand why my thoughts are so random and unconnected all the time. Where was I?
Seeing the expressions of my thoughts on my peeved face she asked, “Didn’t you get the sms from the airline?”
The airline? Sms? More puzzling expressions on my face.
“Our flight is delayed by an hour”, she said.
“Oooooh” I said or rather kept dragging the word till the message go to my head, which took about a full minute. “I didn’t know, Thanks”.
You wanted a reason as to why I stood in the Moron’s Queue while immigration, didn’t you? Here’s the proof – I looked ahead, next to the counter, a large display board(at least 37 inches big) said, in bright red – Delayed.