Monday, February 20, 2012

Epic adventures of Mumbai airport

I did have a little forethought about luggage....First I thought I could have two bags on my way home....after packing and one bag STILL being too heavy and then realizing that I only had one free checked bag, I decided to just put everything into the colossal bag Matt and Jess lent me and just pay the over weight fee instead of both overweight fee AND extra bag fee. The bag seemed WAY too heavy and after not being able to find a limit to HOW heavy the overweight bag could be I figured I would just go with it. FYI: There is a weight limit and mine was about double that.....and if you have to pay for an extra bag or heavy luggage fee, add yet another hour to your departure time to the airport...

Not being able to sleep, I hung out with Jen and Vladimir until time to leave for the airport after midnight.
First of all to fly in India you need a piece of printed paper with your itinerary if you cannot print your boarding passes off. You cannot enter the airport without it.....I dragged the bag thru the airport. At the check in there were only 10 people, half of them being large parties flying together, I figured this would go quickly. Not exactly. Almost an hour later I made it to throw my bag unto the scale. I believe there has never been a bag this heavy ever attempted to be checked into the Mumbai airport with the reaction I received. After much discussion about how to make this work, a young man was assigned to me to figure this out. He loaded a push trolley with the bag (WOW! Why didn't I think of this earlier?!) and off he went, me tagging along, finding a tattered old box, finding tape, helping me repack, finding a shrink wrapping department, then he said wait here....he rushed off to weight everything to make sure and then we approached the ticket counter again. Just in time, I thought I was about to dissolve into a pool of sweat. Then I was told they were unable to take credit cards to pay for my extra bag (or in my case, box) so I would have to go to the business office. At this time, my carry on tote ripped in half with everything pouring onto the floor. No worries they have KLM plastic bags!! I took three for extra strength and now feel like the bag lady. The young man loaded my carry on stuff and wheeled off to show me this new spur of the adventure. The business offices are at a completely different area. It was approaching an uncomfortable time to my flight now and the young man realized this too because he was almost running. I jogged along beside him as he kept nervously turning his head to make sure I was with him as we wheeled down a very long and very dark corridor as it was about 2:30am now, my flight to leave at 3:05am. Running down this endless, dark hallway, I was thinking, you HAVE to be kidding me......a woman with the same bewildered expression that I must have had was leaving the office with her attendant as we entered. Three people were in there and they seemed all in training for what happened next. I kept a calm expression but on the inside I was not calm. Finally, I had some papers that they told me to hang onto that would prove I did pay for this extra bag, as I wadded it up and crammed it in my pocket and ran back down the corridor I was wondering if I would ever see my luggage again.

Now I approached a line for immigration, and was asked for a piece of paper, oh, that one.....found it and quickly, now shaking, filled it out. As I stood in line a person was calling for the Paris flight, I waved my arms figuring it was about to leave and I had immigration, security and a bus yet to I was waving my arms I ducked under the tape. DO NOT EVER DO THIS. Just wave, do not move. So instead of being able to easily slip under this tape and be directed to a short line, I had to clammer over everyone else in line and their luggage to then be directed. The same with the security line they were again calling for Paris ticket holders and as I waved, they told me to clammer to the head of the women's line and this all but started a riot with the angry women I left behind me. Not wanting to miss the flight, I forged ahead. Finally, now I am in the line for the bus to take me to the plane with other people who were on the flight so I could breath again knowing I would make it. The flight was running a little late, WHEW.

Being an international flight I ordered a glass of wine as soon as I was able. Not drinking much on this trip in India, this was all I needed.
Now I am sitting here in Paris, 9:30am, nice and calm at my gate in PLENTY of time and someone is playing lovely music on a piano. My adventure is not quite over.....I will have to collect my luggage in Detroit to walk it thru US customs to check it again to Maine. Jen mentioned not being able to use luggage trolleys....THAT will be interesting.

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