Never Book a Ticket with Multiple Airlines (Specially Air India): Part 1

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Spare some time out of your busy lives to read an exciting yet important experience which I am about to share: 

After completion of a busy, hectic, tough and challenging semester, I decided to go back to India in December. I was desperate to go as the life which I had during the four months of the first semester was terrible and pathetic. With no friends, no one to help you with your infinite doubts and never ending assignments and tests, I was eager to meet my family. So I booked my tickets in the month of November, since I was not sure to go back home after my first semester gets over. This can be considered as one of the most expensive mistake I have ever done in my life. I booked the tickets for 15th of December, the last working day of my semester, from Boston to Mumbai via New York through Air India and from there began the most adventurous part of my journey..

I was not able to get the tickets of airlines like British Airways or Lufthansa as I told you I was late in taking the decision to go India and December being the rush time where people are desperate to go places that are comparatively warm. So my ticket comprised of 6 parts:

Boston – New York (Delta) , New York – Mumbai (Air India), Mumbai – Indore (Air India)

Indore – Mumbai (Air India), Mumbai – Newark (Air India), Newark – Boston (Jet Blue)

You might laugh looking at the my journey ticket, but for me.. it really didn’t matter, all I saw was my family waiting at the airport, searching for me in the crowd and their arms eager to hold and hug me.

Unbelievably long journey with series of mishaps were about to begin, with me having no idea what was awaiting me. I reached the Boston airport 1 hour before the flight to New York. I checked in my luggage and sat for a while to see if I haven’t forgotten anything. I was told during check-in of my luggage that the gate will open, and the boarding will commence at 10:40 am  (the flight was actually delayed, and the time was handwritten by the check-in agent). So, I decided to relax and eat something for a while. I did my security check at 10:30 am which was cleared in 2 mins. At 10:40 am sharp I reached the gate expecting the boarding to have commenced as written on the boarding pass just to find the gate was EMPTY!!! I went to the agent at the counter near the gate to ask what’s going on and she calmly replied,

The flight is on the runway, about to take-off.

With helpless eyes I asked her what to do and she told me to go back to the check-in counter to get the ticket for the next flight. As guided by her, I went back to the counter to get the tickets for the next flight where I was informed that the next flight was at 1:15 pm, scheduled to reach New York at 2:15 pm, from where my Air India flight to Boston was at 2:25 pm. The JFK airport is so busy, that the time taken in taxing your aircraft to the gate is longer that the flight duration from Boston to New York. I was sure that if by any fluke of chance the flight reached at 2:15 pm, under no circumstances I will be able to make it to the Air India flight at 2:25 pm (departure time), which was certainly located at different terminal. I decided not to take this flight because there was a 99.99999% probability that I will miss the next flight and having no relatives in New York, with almost nil dollars in debit card and no place to go, I would have to sleep at Airport and catch the next days flight.

I was feeling helpless and unable to decide what to do next, when I realized my luggage was already loaded in the plane. I went to the counter to inquire about my luggage and was told that it was already loaded in the plane!!! The lady at the counter inquired about how I missed my flight. I told her what instructions I were given. She laughed at my explanation and told me that this had never happened before in their entire history, and inquired me why I didn’t hear any announcement. I told her that there were no announcements being made, and that I am not dumb enough to miss a plane like that. She guided me to the manager of Delta Airlines, where he straightaway refused me to provide the tickets for the next flight. I argued with him, but all my efforts went in vain. I begged him to reschedule my ticket for the following day, so that I can catch the Air India’s flight the following day. So here was DELTA’S reply:

It seems like the whole itinerary is of Air India, and we ain’t able to pull out the details of my further journey as the RESERVATION CODE is JBDZ5 (AI) {Air India’s} and the major part of my journey comprised of Air India Airlines.

I told at the counter that I have Delta’s RESERVATION CODE – GM5BJU (DL) as well written on the ticket, but they were determined that it was Air India’s itinerary and that now they were responsible for sending me back to my home (Air India and Delta doesn’t have any tie-up FYI). After a lot of heated discussion, I was fuming and indignantly asked them,

Please tell me what to do now?!?!

Here came a marvelous reply,

Since Air India majorly plays a role in this itinerary, you have to go to Air India to ask them to write back to Delta stating that they were responsible for missing my plane, and to further write to Delta to issue a ticket for the following day as an apology from their side.

Irony, isn’t it. You will be wondering why would Air India be held responsible for missing my flight! And that, no matter how stupid the reply of Delta is, if you are dumb enough to call Air India, they will simply laugh and refuse to write anything like this on a paper, duly signed and thoroughly guilty and will straightaway tell me to go back to Delta Airlines.

But suddenly amidst all these thoughts I realized,

Holy Cow! Where is my luggage!!?

Since I didn’t board the Delta’s flight to New York, my luggage will reach New York and since I opted for through check-in of my luggage (so as to get my luggage at my last destination – “Indore”), it will be loaded in the Air India’s flight to Mumbai.

I reluctantly went back at the check-in counter to ask the status of my luggage where they simply replied that according to Delta’s confirmation number which they put in their system to pull the details of the customer, the luggage was loaded in the aircraft. But since the customer didn’t boarded the plane, the luggage isn’t supposed to be boarded. But since the luggage has been loaded, it will be handed off to Air India’s concerning office at New York.

It seemed like Delta was trying to put the blame on Air India and running away from their responsibilities giving absolutely absurd replies. You would think that obviously the next option was to contact Air India but then I realized that Air India didn’t operate from Boston. It had it’s offices and services in New York only, so I decided to call them up with respect to Delta’s vague replies and the status of my luggage. Air India as expected refused to write such thing, telling me to contact Delta to give me the ticket for the following day and with respect to my luggage assured me that since I didn’t boarded the flight, the Air India wouldn’t load it in the aircraft (unlike Delta’s mistake which they proudly indicated) and that it will be in Delta’s New York Office.

Now the problem was Air India said that the luggage will be with Delta and the Delta said the luggage will be handed over to Air India, I was suspicious and worried about the status of my 2 checked-in luggage’s, when I got a call from Delta that under unfortunate situations which even they couldn’t understand, one of my luggage was loaded in Delta’s flight and had reached JFK (by then the Delta’s flight was landed in New York) and one of the luggage wasn’t loaded and was there in the Delta’s office at Boston (this happened when they realized I haven’t boarded the plane). Stupid fellas! Can’t they realize before loading the first luggage in flight that I haven’t boarded the plane!!!

With this the day nearly ended, with no help from Air India and Delta. In despair, I went back at home with an achievement of getting my one luggage back. I was tired, hungry and decided to come back again the following day to fight back and get the tickets to go back to India.

This was just a start to the ocean of troubles which I will be writing in my subsequent parts.. Until then keep wondering what happened next!!!

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