Awful Indian Airlines

I was having a little rant earlier about Ryanair and that reminded me of a very unfortunate event that made me lose a whole day in Goa earlier this year…

I had gone to Goa to meet some Indian friends so even though I was with people during the holiday I was actually doing the travelling part alone.

Living on the island of Mallorca makes long haul travel a little more tricky than for other people: first I have to take a flight from the island to the mainland, normally Madrid or Barcelona, and then on to my long haul destination. To go to meet my friends in Goa I had had to fly with Ryanair from Palma to Madrid, then with Emirates from Madrid to Mumbai via Dubai. I then had to take a flight from Mumbai to Goa! And coming home was the same in reverse. I had so many papers with me that I could barely keep track of them all.

Anyway, after a full 24 hours travelling I arrived in Goa. Actually, I had planned things so well in advance that it was a breeze (apart from Air India losing my suitcase in the very last leg of the journey – but that’s another story). I was expecting the return journey to be the same. Not so.

We were all enjoying our last day on the beach and had left our phones in the hotel. When I go back, I had five missed calls from an Indian number and a text message that made my heart sink:

“Go Air flight G8 178 not operating on 25 March plz contact 08326552280 ASAP”

This was the first of my four return flights home! And of course they were not connected. Okay, don’t panic, I told myself. This is NOT happening. It was.

I called the number and they confirmed that the flight was indeed cancelled. They offered me another flight 15 hours earlier –  I was going to miss my whole last day! No way. My friends and I did our best to find me another later flight that would not mean that I would have to stay in Mumbai for a whole day before my Emirates flight out of the country. This was not easy with no wifi and a power-cut in the hotel (the “current” had been out for about 15 hours in the whole village and no one had any idea about when to expect it back, something quite normal in India).

Anyway, there were no later flights unless I wanted to spend 400€ minimum for a 50 minute flight – which I didn’t – so I had to take the earlier one which meant me losing the last day of my beautiful holiday.

Mandrem Beach

And don’t I wish it finished there…

After leaving my friends and setting off alone, I flew from Goa to Mumbai on this earlier flight. When I arrived in Mumbai I knew from my arrival that I would arrive in a different terminal and would have to take a bus to the international terminal. And not realising that I would have so many hours to kill I had figured out exactly where I would have to go to get the bus.

So I figured I’d leave the small terminal and head over to the international terminal even though I was 11 hours early. I thought I’d find a nice bar or cafe with wifi and a plug socket and I’d write a bit, and then maybe try to sleep.

I never thought for a minute that they wouldn’t let me in the terminal until three hours before my flight!

But that’s what happened. The security guard at the entrance to the airport asked me for my boarding card, took one look at the flight time and shook her head. She told me I would have to wait outside for 8 hours! I was gobsmacked. I had never realised that you can’t just walk into an airport in India, you have to actually have a ticket! I looked around me and realised that all those people spread out all over the road with huge bags, suitcases and those massive sacks, being cleverly dodged by the auto-rickshaws that were zooming about were actually waiting until they were within their time to go inside. My cosy plans evaporated and I had visions of myself sitting on the curb outside the airport for the next 8 hours being sold to and hassled.

The security guard must have realised how alarmed I was and directed me to a waiting room which I had to pay to go in, which I was only allowed to stay in for three hours and which I had to fight my way through the crowds to get to.

I handed over my rupees to the 12 year old at the counter and was admitted. Inside it was much quieter than the every-growing crowds outside and people were making themselves as comfortable as possible on the plastic seats and trying to get a bit of sleep.

I found the last chair in the only cafe and plugged in my phone charger. And there I stayed for approximately 7 hours (no way was I leaving after 3 hours once I was in) miserably thinking about how I should have been lying on the beach watching the beach freaks do yoga. I will never go in a Cafe Coffee Day again without reliving that misery!

Mandrem Beach

Have you ever had to take an internal flight in India? Any interesting experiences? Let’s hear about them here in the comments.

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About the Author: Based in Mallorca, obsessed with the world and have a lot to say about both... Step into my shoes and join me on a journey...

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  1. paramveer says:

    Beautifully written Lisa,its a shame you missed so many hours on the last day.but safety and reaching ur destination was important too 🙂

    • Lisa says:

      Thanks so much for your compliment Paramveer. You are of course right, but I was having such a great time in Goa that I wanted to drink-in every last drop of the place. I was there for such a short time and I just didn’t want to leave – bloody Go-Air! 🙁 Still… that’s one more reason to go back I guess…

  2. Encarna says:

    wow lisa!!! how awful experience indeed!!
    I can not imagine how bad you felt..alone at the airport, missing your friends so much… did the company make up for the mistake??

    kisses darling

  3. Domestic FLights in India can have the rudest staff. My flights have been delayed for about 5-6hrs and we were kept waiting at the airport without any updates on what was going to happen. On one of the airlines, we were made to get off the aeroplane as it was supposedly faulty. then 30mins later, put on the same flight again saying it is not a major problem and will be fixed at the next airport.

    However AirIndia flights to UK have been our favourite ones.

    -Empty Rucksack

    • Lisa says:

      Wow that’s so frustrating. I have had very little experience with domestic flights in India but so far they have been 100% problematic!
      I have not flown long haul with Air India and after my experience with them would be reluctant to do so, but maybe I’d give it a go on your recommendation 🙂

  4. bawa says:

    I have travelled a lot within India on Indigo, Jet Airways, Kingfisher and flights have always been pleasant and efficient and the staff both on the ground & air helpful and courteous.
    I guess like anywhere in the world, experiences can vary widely.
    Same as with the story of girls expecting guys to look after your money. That is a good experience with your friends, but I have plenty of girls in my family & friends who travel on their own in India for work or leisure, not only on planes but to little known places in cars, trains, whatever.
    And yes, they look after their own money, arrange their taxis and hotels, etc.
    Many of them even drink beer. Just to underline the fact that one experience may not be representative of the females of the entire country 🙂

    • Lisa says:

      Hi Bawa,
      Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I am so happy to read that there is some girl-power out there in India and that independent woman are perfectly capable of driving themselves places, travelling, drinking beer and paying their own way. As I’ve said in the post, it was a wonderful treat to be so well looked after during my stay but if I had to live like that all the time it would drive me crazy!
      My experiences with Indian airlines have been just horrible! Even recently I was meeting my Indian friends in a different country and their flight was cancelled and I ended up alone for a couple of nights! I hope that your experiences continue to be positive, but it never hurts to have a backup plan just in case!

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