Monday, September 14, 2009
It was the longest vacation of my life. Two weeks of huffing and puffing – Ooh! and Aaahs! – Oops and ‘Lord have mercy’. The scariest roads I had ever been on, the most beautiful places I had ever been to. It’s not possible to describe it in words, even for a so called poet/writer like me. Still, I will try my best to paint a few pictures and share those I clicked during the tour.
Why with the end?
I am starting this tour-diary with the entry reserved for the last post in the series. The reason – I was unfortunate enough to be booked on a Jetlite flight from Srinagar to Mumbai.
Now for the people who have no clue what I am talking about, Jetlite is an airline owned by the Jet Airways. Most of the pilots of the Jet were on a 5-6 days long strike and as a result it took me 14-15 hours to reach Mumbai.
Fasten your seatbelts for a long and boring post full of cribbing.
Actually I wanna get over with this part cz I don’t wanna end my Ladakh diary on a bad note. So bear with me
False sense of Security
It was the 11th September – the one bad day you can pick to fly from the most disturbed area of India – Kashmir.
I knew my 2:30 pm direct flight to Mumbai will be cancelled but Jetlite did not bother to send any mail/sms/call. I made it to the Srinagar airport by 10 am so that I can check the status. We were stopped at two places outside the premises and our bags were x-rayed, our backpacks checked and we were frisked (so sad, my name is not SRK or I would be getting so much publicity by now). The frisking was very revolting, especially for me as I have severe ‘Personal Space’ problem. But I totally understand the need for security.
Overall, I was made to go through 6 security checks – 4 frisking. I would not be cribbing about it but in the end I found it all very useless cz even with all the touching, the frisking was done very immaturely. The worst part was – there were no demands for a photo ID!! I could have been absolutely anyone. Even a Pakistani and they wouldn’t know.
I was promised a flight to Mumbai as mine was cancelled. Jetlite promised that my flight (scheduled at 3 pm) will stop at Jammu and Delhi but will ultimately go to Mumbai and I won’t have to get off from the plane. I confirmed the same with more than 5 Jet personnel. All said – Yes Yes. You won’t have to get off before Mumbai.
The cafeteria had stale food! We were famished by the time the flight was announced at 3:30 pm. Even with all the problems, I was really happy that finally the flight was taking me home. I was dying to see friendly and smiling faces.. (
The Jetlite flight decided to take all the passengers of a cancelled Kingfisher flight (the Kingfisher passengers all got complimentary snacks .. hehehe... never mind).
To my utter horror I realized that there were people sitting on the seats allotted to us on our boarding pass!! The very rude airhostess of Jetlite tried to sushhh me in a corner. It was the last nail in the coffin of my patience level. I told her clearly that I was gonna stand in the aisle unless she solves my problem.
No response. Not even a Plastic smile on her face! The Lady pretended to be deaf!
After 10 minutes she said – All the empty seats are free. Go sit anywhere. I knew that very moment that the flight was not going to Mumbai after all. I asked the flight supervisor – Some more false promises.
Alien in our own country!!?
During the flight the guy sitting in my row asked for a sandwich. The air-hostess said they only had cold beverages. To my surprise, I saw her serving a chicken sandwich to a foreigner sitting just in the front seat!! I Wonder why he was denied the food. He was certainly willing to pay for it!
As I knew, we were dumped in Delhi. The PA system announced that the Kingfisher passengers going to Chennai were to remain seated and the Bangalore passengers were to contact ground staff. No announcement for the Mumbai passengers. We had to get down and ask a staff standing near the plane who was equally rude and foul mouthed.
Getting Dumped, rather unceremoniously
It was raining and the city was colder than Srinagar at that moment (thank god I had a jacket in my backpack). Our luggage was still inside the plane. Promises were made again that it will reach Mumbai and we will be boarding a plane at 8:30 pm.
We were about 8-10 Mumbai bound passengers. We had no clue what to do next, whom to contact!
We raced from the arrival terminal to the departure terminal for our flight to Mumbai. No transportation was provided. There were two really old ladies... I wonder how horrible they were feeling.
Losing my temper
By this time I was full of anger. I started hunting for a person-in-charge but all we got was – Go to that counter – Go to this counter. Even the ground staff in-charge of our case was too rude, callous and @$%@^%#%^.
I told them clearly that I was not gonna board any flight unless I got my complaint registered.
In the end, I finally found a person in charge who heard me. Noted down my complaint and then called the night-manager of the staff. I was so angry - I could feel my hands shaking. I told them that I totally understand their problem due to the pilot strike but it does not give then an excuse to lie to passengers and be soooooooo rude to them.
Made a formal complaint against the ground staff and the cabin crew members – with their names. (thank god for the name tags)
Home Sweet Home!
Got some extra special treatment after that. written apology letter was offered - upgraded to the full service level – the manager personally escorted to the special bus to the next plane etc.
In the end, with all the delays, it was 1 am when I made it home. 15 hours after reaching Srinagar Airport
man... was I happy to see the chaos called Mumbai!!!!
PS: I got it all out in this post and now from the next post of the Ladakh Diary, you will get to read more interesting things with better pictures! The new header of the blog is the picture I took in Leh.