A Disastrous Start :(

Brazil Travel Blog

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I am convinced that Continental Airlines flight CO49 from Mumbai to Newark on 3rd December 2009 was God's messenger and agent.God makes sure that no good things come to us without a struggle or pain lest we forget to appreciate or value them and Con Airlines was doing the best it could to make this happen.


I was all booked to embark the midnight flight for a 15 hr journey followed by a 17 hr layover before boarding a 10 hr flight to vibrant Brazil.


I arrived at the airport on time only to be informed that the flight was not on time! Isn’t it wonderful that planes can always be late for technical reasons but a passenger is never allowed to be late for technical reasons. Reminds me of the courtroom where the only people who take oath are the defendant, victim and those testifying. No Judge or lawyer ever seems to take oath! Now we all know why our Judges and lawyers are so guilt free about the things they do.


Before I checked in there was an interview with a Continental Airlines representative who didn’t even know where Sao Paulo was. I am glad he knew where Newark was! The way he rattled off the standard questions gave every indication that he was probably a parrot in his previous life.


I moved a few steps forward and a young lady asked me “Have you finished your interview”? “Yes ma’am” I gladly answered and “guess what? I passed” I told her. I then proceeded to the check-in counter where I was asked “What is your final destination?” Interesting question, come to think of it don’t we all have the same final destination, to meet our maker?


She struggled with my baggage tags, initially sending it to Newark and then with a change of heart telling me the she will send them to Sao Paulo" my final destination, according to her. She also told me that the incoming flight was having engine trouble and my flight would be delayed by at least an hour. I was not perturbed; I could live with a one hour delay. Just chilling out at the lounge using my newly acquired Priority Pass and strolling around a bit was what I had in mind.


Now this is where the ‘Con’ in Continental comes to life. When announcements are hard to come by and no one seems to have answers, believe me, its big trouble. Passengers were being informed personally that the delay would be two hours instead of one. The engine valve had to be replaced and tested! I’m not a technical guy but even my mechanic takes more time to test the engine when he services my car! I wondered how all that could be done in two hours for an aircraft. The Con representative reluctantly agreed but only through body language. His official line was two hours delay. If you have ever flown you will know that delays don’t need to mate in order to multiply. My worst fear was coming true. There were hushed whispers that the flight was most likely to be cancelled and we would be put up at a hotel for the night. Surely this was not the start I dreamed of. I had to cancel my hotel booking at Newark where I had planned to spend the layover. There would hardly be any refund…there goes some hard earned dollars I told myself.


After spending six sleepless hours at the airport we were told that the flight would start boarding and was scheduled to leave around 6.30 a.m. a delay of six and a half hours!


Human desire to challenge physics is nowhere more visible than while boarding an aircraft. Every time I board an aircraft I am amused to see people desperately trying to fit their oversized cabin bags into the overhead storage compartment despite every indication that the bag is bigger than the space available! The thought process of those standing behind such passengers and waiting to move on is even more intriguing. The first wish of those waiting is that the bag fits in soon so that they can move ahead to their seats. If the passenger is not successful in doing so within 10 seconds this wish changes and the hope is that it doesn’t fit and the person trying gives up and moves on. In a weird way our wishes for the success or failure of the other person depends on the time we can spare!! Think about it!


Finally, after a lot of adjustments among passengers the flight was ready to take-off. There was an apology for the delay on the PA which was more haughty and indifferent than that tendered by Tiger Woods.


For a person who lives alone I talk too much and putting me in a plane with no one to speak to was like solitary confinement. I say this because the person sitting next to me was incapable of making any decent conversation and that is third degree torture on a 15 hour flight. Luckily, I had a sleepless night at the airport so I spent most of the time trying to get some sleep. I wished I was working for a Russian circus company whose artists perfect the art of curling themselves up easily in tiny spaces.


Airline food is cooked with the sole intention of humiliating your sense of taste and ordering veg food on a non-Asian airline is asking for punishment. My food was no exception. Later on, when I went to the pantry to ask for some coffee and cookies the stewardess in the most uncouth tone had the audacity to ask me "anything more"? I was in half a mind to tell her “How about some courtesy”? I have paid for this ticket so am indirectly paying for your salary! At least have some dignity in earning your wages! I let it pass as the phrase “Cheap Airline, Cheap Service" came to mind. I was not allowing some idiot of an airhostess to spoil my holiday which had already stumbled at the start line.


The rest of the flight was nothing much to write home about and we landed at Newark’s Liberty International Airport around 11 a.m.


My next post will be about my amazing flight to Sao Paulo from Newark where I met Jovania a Brazilian living in the US and going back to Brazil on a holiday.

yadilitta says:
pfff, but things got better later...
Posted on: Feb 20, 2010
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1,054 km (655 miles) traveled
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