A horrible travel day to Bengaluru!

When it comes to travel for work, I’m pretty thick skinned I guess given some of the stuff I’ve seen back in the day. However, yesterday was a horrible travel day in a lot of senses, so bear with me while I tell you about it.

I had a few meetings in Bengaluru yesterday, and I was off to do a morning-evening routine. I’ve done this many a times before flawlessly, in spite of the fact that the airport is sooooo far out of the city limits! Since I usually have my meetings start at 11:30-12:00 hours in Bangalore, I take an 8:30 am flight out of Mumbai on Jet Airways which brings me to Bangalore at 9:45 am whereabouts and then account for an hour plus of driving and I am still in time for my work. In the evening, I’d be able to make it on the 6:10 pm Jet Airways flight back as well by arriving at the airport at about 4:45 – 5:00 pm.

On days I expect to stick around longer, I do not book a flight ticket for Bangalore – Mumbai and book it only after I sit in the cab towards the Bangalore airport. Last minute fares do not inch up any further higher in my experience and that ways I’m not worrying about my flight rather than my work.

Cue to the trip yesterday. It might just have been jinxed! Somewhere along Sunday evening I get an alert from Worldmate that my flight is delayed by 1:15 hours, which means it would now depart Mumbai at 9:45 am and arrive into Bangalore at 11:20 am. I guess it would have been Karma (not the GoPro one!), as the times flashed in front of my eyes when I’d thank my stars for not taking the 9 am Air India flight which is almost always delayed from Mumbai itself. I tweeted to Jet Airways to check about this since I did not see the delay posted on their own website yet. They confirmed.

I resigned to the fact and then went back to doing what I was doing till I got a call from Jet Airways. I was told my 6:10 pm flight from Bangalore to Mumbai was cancelled. Now I was beginning to lose it. The agent on the line offered to put me on the 5:00 pm flight from Bangalore to Mumbai, where I had to literally remind him that I was not going to Bangalore for a joyride but some work.

He then offered to put me on the 9:45 pm flight. When I asked to be accommodated on the next flight after 6:10 pm (at 8:30 pm), I was told it was full and won’t be possible. Sure enough there were seats in Business Class but they won’t be upgrading passengers to accommodate, right? So, I did not book a flight altogether and hung up while I researched my options.

I consulted with a colleague who was travelling with me, and we figured we would take care of this return flight after seeing how the day goes. At best, I’d have my money back because the flight was cancelled anyways. But to protect myself, at 10 pm I booked myself on the 9:45 pm flight anyways as a separate ticket, fearing once many a peeps agreed to be accomodated on the 9:45 flight, the prices would go up. If unused, I’d be able to have my money back with the 24-hour free refund period offered by Jet Airways.

I was pretty miffed with Jet Airways at this time and I tweeted them to see if things could work out between us. It was going to be a long day and I could really do with some early getting back home. Sure enough, they agreed I should and while I was asleep, I got a new ticket stating the 8:30 pm flight. Thank you very much guys for getting my back again!

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Day Zero

Ding. I arrive at the airport and wait up for a long time to get my boarding passes. It should be known by now I don’t like the thermal paper boarding passes and I prefer the old school ones. Except, Monday morning rush and only one elite counter open for Platinum and one for Gold/Silver/Priority Advantage.

Onwards to the lounge to get some breakfast when I see the 9:45 am flight has started to board at 8:45 am. Without any coffee or tea, I’m off to board my flight only to realize the airline is boarding a completely sold out in Economy A333 plane by bus. I could not even wrap my head around why the flight was delayed yet. Because it was in time from Kuwait, the earlier sector it operated. And I hear it is a daily thing to be bussed to the plane on this flight. Simple reason, the flight arrives from an international sector, gets a gate at the international side and domestic customers now need to be bussed over since they cannot get inside an international gate.

I waive my boarding pass, and did not process an upgrade since I was almost sure to be operationally upgraded since the flight was packed in Economy and they had seats in business. No luck, Sherlock, unless they decided to skip my high sequence number (2) and top-tier status and gave those upgrades to others. Or maybe they did a just right job in terms of selling tickets and were not oversold.

Pushback on time, take off on time. Meal service ensues. Flight time is 1:20 hours as per the captain. I eat my breakfast, and the crew comes for clearing the tray. I keep my cup aside, I’m told no beverage service since we are commencing descent. Sigh, no coffee again!

Arriving into Bangalore I had some people waiting so we rushed to our car to drive to our meetings. No coffee yet.

Comedy of Errors

So far, I now had a seat on the 8:30 pm flight as well as the 9:45 pm flight. My colleague did not have any seats but he could get on the 8:30 pm flight. A new scenario was emerging at work where we might be able to make it back to the airport for a 7 pm departure. Flights, check. He finally booked himself on the 7:20 pm Air India flight back to Mumbai when we got driving to the airport. I’d been able to offload myself from the 9:45 pm flight and cancel the ticket by now (I’d anyways booked a flex ticket).

I initially decided to stick with my 8:30 pm flight, but I’m getting lured to take the option of going home an hour early too! As I start to type my credit card number on the 7:20 pm flight, I decide to check it on Flightradar24, where it tells me the incoming flight from Mumbai to Bangalore on the flight is delayed! The Bangalore – Mumbai flight accordingly was now going to go out at 8:00 pm instead of 7:20 pm. I thanked my stars for not booking the ticket yet, and promptly informed my colleague about the delay.

At the airport, we finally managed to get me a coffee 14 hours after I’d woken up. As we waited and worked, the 8:00 pm departure of Air India had become 8:15 pm, but the saving grace was my 8:30 pm flight was now at 8:50 pm, and we eventually took off at 8:59 pm. As I glanced the board one last time, I noticed the 9:45 pm Jet Airways flight out of Bangalore to Mumbai was now going to leave at 10:30 pm.

Bottomline

I did manage to not sprinkle around a lot of money to be back home last night and I’d mostly consider myself lucky for that. But I’m surprised that the speed of aircraft movement is so slow at Bangalore. And I’m surprise that there are not more flights going to Mumbai everyday given that the IT city and the Finance City do a lot of business together and flights are perpetually full.

Anyone know why Bengaluru-Mumbai have sub-optimal capacity and not a flight every 1.5 hour or so on the legacy carriers?

About Ajay Awtaney

Ajay is a financial services pro, working to bring order to the chaos of the financial industry on an everyday basis! Beyond that, he dons the hat of India's favourite frequent traveller, trying to help people elevate their travel experience via tips and tricks they never knew before, or introduce them to the world of miles and points. Armed with an MBA from MDI Gurgaon and graduate degree in computer science from the University of Delhi, Ajay brings a systematic and objective approach on the table for his audience in dissecting travel and loyalty programs in India and around the world, and how to benefit from them. Ajay has been quoted in various reputed traditional and online media including The Hindustan Times, Inside Flyer, Bloomberg, DNA India, Conde Nast Traveller, The Telegraph, Mumbai Mirror, Mint, MoneyLife and The USA Today.

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Comments

  1. You’re lucky you got great experience at 9W. Their social media team is prompt and efficient but JP support is awful. At least for the people who are not Platinum.

    The base fare waived ticket throws an error and I’ve been chasing them for months.

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