I’ve done plenty of stupid shit in my life and gotten away with it. The tragedy of my life though is the fact that I end up getting into shit when I’m following rules almost whole-heartedly and doing everything exactly as is expected off sane-minded people.
Questionable Pre-Flight Decisions
On the eve of the 3rd of June (5 painstaking days before I managed to get my hands around an internet connection to post this), I had 3-4 rounds of beer-pitchers courtesy my smart-ass friends, who wanted me to start off the second coming of my annual birthday-challenge with a drunk flight. It is important to disclaim what is to follow is hardly an effect of this adventurous decision.
The first sign of trouble was the fact that I hadn’t been able to check-in online – something I have done on EVERY single flight I’ve boarded in the past. I simply do not like the added pressure of spending the extra 30-60 mins in an airport queue. Fast forward to me reaching the airport a healthy 2 hours before the scheduled departure time (so far so good…I was also happy high, meaning I was quite high tempo by this time).
Midnight Dash Through Airport Check-in Counters
My flight from Mumbai to Seychelles was a weird combination; it was a Jet Airways flight, operated by Etihad Airways on behalf of Air Seychelles (WTF?). I’d had the (seemingly) wise foresight to call up the airlines and figure out exactly where I’m supposed to be going on arrival at the airport. Jet Airways requested me to get in touch with Etihad, and Etihad requested me to get in touch with Jet. Eventualy I decided I’ll just sort this shit out at the airport.
I peered at the Etihad check-in counters and didn’t spot my flight number on any. I turned around and looked at the Jet counters and realized they had counters titled ‘All Flights’. The alcohol in me probably had something to do with this, but I decided to chance it by joining the monstrous queue at the Jet counters. In front of me stood 2 groups of 6 travellers each, which pretty much occupied two of the counters for a straight 1 hour – all this while my beer bladder was mildly protesting. By the time I was 3rd or 4th in queue, my bladder was practically collapsing. I requested one of the guys wearing the Jet unis, to hold my spot while I rush to the restroom and relieve myself. I returned with a sigh of relief and a sense of accomplishment as I was about to be next due in queue. I walked up to the counter happily and flashed my e-ticket. After toying around on the machine for a few minutes and grumbling to his colleague that this was operated by Etihad, the guy at the counter nonchalantly asked me to go stand in the Etihad queue. One glance at my watch and I realised my flight was hardly an hour away. I rushed to the Etihad queue, who then proceeded to direct me to a secluded counter that was titled ‘Air Seychelles’ with an entirely different flight number from mine. By this point I was too disoriented already to protest, and as I approached the counter, the guy behind it had the balls to tell me “Sorry! Counter is closed!” I kept protesting about how I have already stood in the Jet Airways queue for an hour and I even called up the airlines to confirm this. The guy maintained an angry poker-face and reminded me there were monitors all over the place displaying flight numbers, all the while completely ignoring the fact that the flight number on my e-ticket was completely different from what they were displaying. His superior thankfully was a lot more accommodating and was happy to check me in while Mr. Angry-Rants was busy haggling over extra baggage with a production crew trying to check-in 65kgs of extra baggage.
Next stop – immigration, which was a longer queue than any I’ve ever encountered. Fortunately I was able to cut through on account of urgency. As I stood at the immigration desk however, a woman collapsed on the counter next to me and the immigration clerk handling her request lost his head at an airline employee who was blaring away at his walkie-talkie on full blast. After a feud that involved threats of a written complaint & the choicest of cuss-words that lasted a full 5 minutes and distracted the fuck out of my own clerk, I finally managed to clear immigration and made my way to the boarding gate. The first face I see on entering the flight was the celibrated face of John Abraham – who happened to be travelling with the aforementioned production crew. I walked on to my seat, mistaking this for the inevitable change in my fortunes. After a 5 hour flight that comprised of an uncomfortable stupor caused by 3 straight sleepless nights and Bend It Like Beckham, I caught the first glimpse of paradise, shrouded in early morning mist. Seychelles International Airport is one of the prettiest airports I have ever seen – it is located practically on the ocean and is also one of the tiniest airports on earth. If only you knew at this point what fate had in store for me, you’d shudder at the sadism; well, you’ll find out soon enough anyway! Happy Shuddering!