Is it not strange that I was asked to start at 7PM from Noida to catch a flight of Air India for New York that was scheduled to depart at 00.25AM on September 18, 2010? I was to take Yamuna to her doctor’s clinic for an injection so that she would get some relief from pain. Even with an already assured provision of wheel chair for her, I was not sure if she could avoid walking for reaching at the airline counter. However, at the last moment Yamuna agreed to drop the plan of stopover for injection, as she felt better with medicines. The taxi came in time, but the driver was hesitant to accommodate three suitcases. I had to a little tough to the extent of being harsh to get it loaded. We are one of those Indians who don’t believe in travelling light and that too when you are going to a different country where you shall be staying with the families of two of your sons.
The newly built airport is just impressive and world class. We got a porter service for Rs 200. The porter also helped us in getting the wheel chair. As Air India was manning only few counters, there were quite a few passengers in the queue. But the problem came when the porter loaded the three suitcases for check in. The overall weight was within limit, but the weights of two of the suitcase were more than 23 kgs. My nightmare started. I argued and expected that Air India would have some special consideration for senior citizens like us. The counter girl contacted her supervisor. She appeared to be pretty helpful. She took me to her boss, a young Sardarji. Unfortunately, the Youngman was neither courteous nor helpful. I asked him what to do as I didn’t have extra suitcases or bag to shift the weight from the suitcases to make all of them below 23 kgs. He didn’t have any suggestion. He did neither suggest if I could buy some bags or cartons. He didn’t listen. He rudely kept on insisting that I couldn’t travel without getting them within limits. It was just nightmarish. But then the help came from the person manning the wheel chair of Yamuna. He made the porter carrying the baggage to leave the cart. He got a carton and got some item shifted. However, it still didn’t balance the weight. But then he got a friendly Air India counterman and managed to get us through with the problem at a cost of Rs 1000. He got us to immigration. We had to wait on the special counter for the persons with wheel chair, as the officer was missing. Finally we reached the departing gate 24. The man left us and asked us to wait, but took his charge duly wrapped in a paper provided by him. That is the Indian way of making money and we all help it.
The Delhi Airport, built and managed by a private company, is really world class now with décor and facilities competing with any in Singapore, Hong Kong or Tokyo. I can’t compare it with Beijing or Shanghai as I have not visited them. Let someone do that or wait till I see them.
But will the employees of Air India and other government department be an improved lot? Air India must get private or get closed. Except for the reason that the Air India flight takes the shortest time, as it is nonstop one for New York, I would never have preferred it.