Charged twice for a round trip ticket by Air Canada .
My Mom and Dad and brother had come to see me off at the YYZ Pearson Airport. The day was perfect only there was this twinge of misgiving for the very short visit …as I had not had my fill of my Parent’s company. Strutting like a queen with my loving entourage with my trolley full with the stipulated two bags bulging at the seams with gifts galore from relatives and friends.
Leaving Dad Mum stand sentinel to my trolley my brother and I went to the kiosk where many a passengers were checking in jabbing fingers at the screen. Merrily and light-hearted both of us stood for our turn. The process of feeding the ticket number and inserting the passport takes about a couple of minutes. I moved away to click a picture while my computer savvy brother was punching in the required information. I saw him struggling… a little irritated with my photography he beckoned me and asked me to call for assistance. A lady came and punched in some buttons ‘the screen came alive with debarred from travel’. She asked us to queue up to see the lady at the counter. Oblivious of the lurking danger I joined the line enchanted by the wide variety of human race in between I would spot my brother standing far away I’d zoom and click also took long shots of my parents (who were sitting far away waiting for us to check in and then have a chat over coffee)…as if to hold the picture to save it from the ‘funny tricks of time’ in ABBA’s words, happy with the thought that of composition of the picture and all that.!
Just before my turn came my brother almost like an angel was beside me. Horror of horrors! The lady at the counter took my ticket and passport typed in the information, studied the screen for a while, perhaps perceived us as decent citizens, telephoned some authority and then said simply “fraudulent ticket” Looking at our stricken faces she asked us to hold on and kept us waiting for half n hour trying to contact higher authorities as if finding out if it were a mistake. I it seems had traveled free from India to Toronto via Munich! Preposterous how could that be ? At the airport there is nothing but check ,frisk and frightful anxiety! How could I have traveled ticket less! I have never done such a thing in the local bus, train and imagine I traveling ticket less in a plane! I was a ticket less traveler in an aircraft that prides it self of x-ray vision! Hard to swallow!…to digest!…I after collecting the whopping sum of 96,000 Indian Rupees from all sources and paying for the Air Canada ticket and here I was stamped as traveled without a ticket!
Helplessly rather apologetically she peered over her glasses with her kind eyes, she guided us to go to another counter where there was a queue. We tried explaining to the person in attendance that could we jump the queue as we had very little time as we might miss the flight. No was the disciplined reply . Crest fallen , distraught waited for our turn the lady at the counter was very empathetic to my cause, gently told me that I was duped by my agent in India. In my disbelief I told her that the pair of the ticketing agents were probably the best I had known. “There are cases where the booking agent within a period of fourteen days stop payment on their credit card“. “The bad is not written on the face”, she philosophized. On the same booking number we were asked to purchase another round trip ticket. “What about the earlier payment“?. She said.” looks like you good guys have been duped“. “Take it up with the Indian travel agency“ she advised.. My job was at stake. The school authorities had cruelly made me sign documents if I did not reach on the stipulated date and comply I’d be forced to go on a nine months without pay leave! My brother who is such a restrained consumer when it comes to spending on himself…the gazebo he has planned for his backyard, the new flooring of his garage…the wonderful pair of boots…and more… and here he was shelling out a whooping amount of 2,322.79CAD! Believe me without batting an eyelid he gave his credit card to pay a second time for the same ticket. He told the lady Book the ticket soon my sister should not miss her flight . She frantically made calls trying to help…in the melee that there was the final call for boarding and the gates closing was announced! Since I had missed my flight I argued with my brother that I would stay on for a month with his doe like expressive eyes he signaled me to hold on and asked the lady if she could put me on another flight that would reach the same day perhaps a little late. She got busy once again and came up with Air Canada via Frankfurt to New Delhi. That much for my plans of having a nice rest at the Munich airport during the layover in their peaceful resting areas!
The soul injured with the Ticket that we had paid for the second time for no fault of ours. A feeling of theft, of debauchery, of being cheated, despondency writ large on my face I dragged my cleats that we had bought in honor of the FIFA World Cup at Brazil. My brother stopped me and asked me behave normal my Canon Camera et all .Don’t stress Dad and Mom with any of this!
We rushed to where our parents were …waiting anxiously for us…It was well past their tea time. Cheerfully my brother chimed “…lets have Coffee!” We sat at the Starbucks, in between the sips and the eats we told them we had to change the flight! On account of some issues with the ticket. If they fathomed something amiss they did not show it. They sure outsmarted us in camouflaging their feelings. They loaded me with all their good wishes and concerns and asked me to return soon as it seemed my visiting time was over even before it had begun! On my part I hardly had got over my jetlag! Silently I cursed everyone who was an impediment in my reunion. I just did not want to return. Taking the ticket episode as sufficient reason to postpone my return!
Suddenly I found myself in their arms saying goodbyes etc… Walking towards the check -in I saw Dad Mom Bro with a reassuring smile waving Goodbye! I waved back and was soon absorbed in the throws of keeping everything in the trays to be scanned, followed by a body scan, the young woman saw my passport photo and complimented me that I looked pretty pretty in my younger days! Younger?! I mulled it was taken just three years ago had I aged in these four hours I wondered! I smiled my thanks and moved on quickly to the waiting area of boarding my flight. It was chock a block peopled with foreigners, mostly Europeans going to Germany. Before joining the queue I put two quarters in the phone slot and called my brother’s mobile only to get the answering machine to record a message, which I did surmising that he must be maneuvering his way out along with my parents. The queue had not moved an inch so I found a place to relax for a while. ‘The aircraft is overheated needs to cool hence a little delay’ an announcement was made in English and German.
You should have seen me I felt it was providence that had made me miss my original flight which I was looking forward to. The reason being the layover at Munich is a breeze…the sleeping areas are equipped with reclining chairs, tastefully decorated with plants and shelves of books to read. And now I was to go via Frankfurt and now this ‘overheated engine’ was it the end? I had this urge to run to phone booth and apprise the situation at home. It was dinner time and had I not given enough trouble for one day I thought so I thought the better of it and settled down witnessing the landings, take-offs, taxing etc on the tarmac outside, from the glass walls, hoping that my journey would be without any further glitches. After an hour, announcement for boarding the plane began with the privileged executive class I looked at the bunch with a jaundiced eye as I had paid more than them and here I was traveling cattle class with my seat at the tail end of the craft. As a rule I wait till the last to board the plane as I feel claustrophobic. I walked in through the executive class with s supercilious expression as to this is my place , walked the entire length of the craft nodding my head at anyone who gave me a weak smile to settle at the tail end on the aisle seat. Asked my young fellow passenger to help me store my cabin baggage in the overhead slot. Soon the microphone crackled for the’ pilot welcome us aboard.’ It took my breath away it was a woman’s voice. I am all for feminism and stuff like that but a woman pilot and today when the weather was under the weather it was too much! I was not even carrying my prayer book and I went crazy doing the prayers I knew by rote finding myself either repeating the lines or just forgetting the sequence. Taxing and all was gentle and smooth until the take-off well it was like a rattle It reminded me of a remote control toy airplane of my son which would wobble and fall down! Whew! Before long shaking and rattling we were airborne and I refused to think of the peril of landing by the lady at Frankfurt! That’s the degree of exhaustion I was in. The flight attendants were courteous to a fault and I fell asleep after a tasty dinner. On landing at Frankfurt I faced the German officials at the customs check my handbag and the cabin bag and a pair of them seemed studying my Umbro Cleats. Looking at my crest fallen expression the lady told me in German accented English that he says your shoes are very good! Relieved beyond words I gave them my thank you smile, suddenly I wanted to linger on and exchange notes with them about the Soccer World cup and also tell them about the mismatch coloured cleats by Puma etc
I took out my lunch comprising of a varied fruit platter my Mum had lovingly packed. I took my own sweet time biting into the luscious, juicy fruits .Gave my camera to the lady who was watching me intently to take a picture of mine relishing my lunch. My one and a half layover at Frankfurt was soon over, passengers queuing up once again …Once again I was amongst the last of the passengers …this time I had the sandwiched seat between the window and the aisle. Making a mental note of that of switching places with the person at the window. I was pleasantly surprised to see the window seat vacant. I sat on the window seat waiting for the rightful occupant to come along. The pilots welcomed us aboard all the flight information in case of an emergency were given. And I had two seats to myself to boot! After all I had been given an executive class. Made most of the window seat enjoying the sight of heaven and earth. Reached a beautiful glittering Delhi by night to my waiting son and husband with a story of deceit and fraud!!!