Sunday, September 06, 2009

Near miss

After publishing the previous post on missing baggage, I remembered another episode concerning a ‘near miss’.

My flight had taken off from Amsterdam for Mumbai. After we were airborne for a ‘few minutes’, we heard the captain announce that we needed to return to Amsterdam, as one of the passengers was seriously ill. But, he needed to jettison some fuel first as it was not advisable to land with an almost full tank. This jettisoning would take a ‘few minutes’.

We landed in Amsterdam; the sick passenger was wheeled off; we waited for the flight to take off in a ‘few minutes’.

Soon the captain informed us that he was awaiting further instructions from his “Operations’ wing in the US. He expected to have that in a ‘few minutes’.

After a ‘few minutes’ he again came on air and told us that the instructions had not come yet and he was hopeful that he would receive them in a ‘few minutes’. These announcements were repeated,with that exasperating American fetish for verbose communication, at a maddening frequency for a full two hours, after which, the captain was pleased to inform us that the “Operations’ dept had cleared the aircraft for take-off to Mumbai again, but US Air safety regulations required a change of crew, as the present crew, if it continued on, would log more than the statutory limit of 12 hours. The new crew, had been identified, and would be arriving at the airport in a ‘few minutes’.

All this while, security requirement did not permit the passengers to get off the plane or be served meals while on the ground.

The new crew eventually arrived in a few hours and the plane took off. The rest of the flight was rather uneventful and we landed in Mumbai more than 6 hours beyond the scheduled time.

Waiting for my luggage, I did not panic. Experience has taught me that mine is usually the last one to arrive, after it unselfishly ensures that every other piece of baggage has been safely evacuated from the aircraft. Suddenly, I heard someone announcing my name along with a few others. We were asked to contact the ground staff who broke the grim news, that due to some mistake, our luggage had been left behind in Amsterdam and would arrive the next day, and would we please fill out this form and come again the next night for clearing it past Customs?

Hell, I wanted to move on to Chennai the next day. I fretted and fumed and kicked and ranted, but it was useless, of course. I filled in the blasted form and walked towards the exit. It was at this point that I noticed my suitcase moving gracefully on the baggage carousel.

I picked it up, went back to the ground staff, let out steam for causing me needless tension and anxiety, warned them not to make this a habit and bade them goodbye. Not so fast, said they. They needed to check again with Amsterdam. My baggage tag was definitely on the list of luggage left behind there, and till they got the matter cleared, I could not leave. This process of checking would take a ‘few minutes’…….


Mambalam Mani said...

My baggage has this rather disconcerting unselfish attitude too :(

Usha said...

Romba paavam Raj neenga. And to think people must be envious of you for all the high flying you get to to do!!
Now tell me, My bags are ALWAYS the last to arrive even on those rare occasions I get to fly business class.
So if both of us are on the same flight whose bags do you reckon would arrive last?
(inda kelvikku badil terindum sollavittal ungal thalai sukku nooraha....)

Diwakar Sinha said...

same thing happened to us during out trip to boroda. but you were luckier. in our case the suitcases arrived a day later.

Raj said...

Mambalam Mani : Yours is probably the second last.

Usha, reply is in the mail.

Diwakar: Mine too.