Sri Lanka is to Ayunbowan (Welcome) to Visitors as India is to the opposite!
It’s been an experience of oversights, missed connections, circular passing the buck, general incompetence and severe frustration.
OK, I’ll give India another chance, but so far, the Welcome was entirely missing, as well as the Embarkation forms when we arrived, though the plane interior got sprayed by the flight attendants. Another missing item – the inter-terminal bus for passengers between International and Domestic. The guard at International thought it was pretty funny we were going to catch our flight though we had over an hour to connect, and had gone through baggage claim and passport control within 30 minutes – a record, I’m sure. The guard found out that the drivers were on shift change and would not make the 7:30 pm stop but maybe by 8 pm it would come. A bit late for our 8:20 pm flight.
Oh, and cutting in line (well, there really isn’t a “line” at the airport counter) and shoving to the front is standard operating procedures. I guess some things about the English haven’t rubbed off … ! Ha ha …
My record in dealing with an airline – Go Air Customer Service counter at the airport – 3 hours! And, it netted … NOTHING! Go Airlines, 3 hours and counting: Jeannie, 0, zilch, nada.
I think they thought it’d be funny to send some “gaijin” tourist all over the place to find a pay phone – ha ha ha — NOTE: there isn’t one anywhere inside nor outside Mumbai domestic airport. Even the airport guards who look SO official have NO CLUE where anything is. For April Fools Day, it might be fun prank to have a Code Red, or an “Incidence” to see what they’d do! Like, call in saying there’s a bomb in one of the payphones! LOL – and they have NO CLUE where the phones ARE!
Anyway, if I wasn’t so tired and hungry, I would have thought this farce with the airlines – even the airport services at Mumbai – to be a perfect Monty Python skit. I can see John Cleese being the “helpful” customer service clerk who gives me the phone to call the online rep to purchase my tickets, only to yell at me later to get off the line because it’s the ONLY line and is to be used for authorizing credit cards only! Name the skit, “Customer Service: Failure Setup.” At any rate, Nikhal at the Airport Go Air CS counter said he couldn’t book me even if I paid in cash because I’d booked the return leg online and he couldn’t book it without either cancelling that leg, or charging more for that leg. I learned that he’s an IDIOT! Or maybe just plain INCOMPETENT! Now, don’t take it wrong, I’m not all THAT frustrated! OK, maybe just a little bit – envisioning a Coca Cola bottle delivery over their single phone, and having it open, dripping coke all over the phone – rendering the line useless…. OK, I’m good now.
Trying to avoid the “touts” that the signs warn us about in the airport, I give in to one just to get the hell OUT of the airport since it was getting pretty pointless, and resources were pretty much NIL – no internet access, no payphones, my iPhone was stolen in Alice Springs, and no person who had worthy or helpful information. We booked a hotel for Rp.2,750 for one night at a “3-star” hotel – the Hotel Imperial Palace. A room with A/C and a bathroom would have been fine even in a box, but it HAD TO HAVE INTERNET ACCESS! Traffic at 9:30 pm was abysmal, and the driver calmly told us that it’s worse in the daytime! Joy.
On reaching the hotel – I’d have given it a 1.5-star, maybe – we checked out three double-bed rooms. This is going to sound like Goldilocks – me being so picky and all … the first one was too antiseptic smelling, maybe they’d just embalmed someone? The second one was okay, but down a smoke-filled hall; the third one was up four flights on the top floor, and had locked internet access, though it was the nicest room. I don’t know why they showed us that one as it wasn’t even available to us. I was worried and the manager, Shakir, assured me that he’d give me a free 2-hour Internet access, and after that it was Rp.100 / hour (~$2.50).
The first thing I did was try and hookup on the network – it didn’t work! I went up front and for an hour, we tried to get wifi working – nothing. I even reset the router by our room – no go. SIGH:: Shakir offered his work computer in his office to book my flight. I spent about 30 minutes working there, couldn’t print as the HP inkjet was out of ink and jamming. I couldn’t book online as I was told by Go Air that my return leg from New Delhi to Mumbai would be cancelled. So, I ended up calling Go Air’s reservations’ 800 # Nikhal at the Bombay Airport Customer Service counter gave me. After 20 minutes, Ashish told me he couldn’t help me book as I needed to call ANOTHER number! I called that and got Mogish, who eventually told me he couldn’t book because they couldn’t take foreign credit cards, but the Customer Service desk at the airport could take ANY form of payment!
Ah, so now, I’m back to the beginning of the cycle. Isn’t it wonderful to use up energy and get nothing out of it? I guess no one’s told them about how business runs – on SALES, not on missing paying customers.
So, now it’s past 1 am, and I’m going to turn in. Luckily, the hotel check out is noon – though the flight we want is at 10:30 am. Which means we have to check out and head to the airport by 8 am if we’re to make this 10:30 am flight! BUT, the manager’s office isn’t open until 10:30-11 am. Hmmmm, another missing connection.
I’m in the mind to just blow off India – except we REALLY want to see the Taj Mahal!