Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Mumbai Airport

Remind me to NEVER fly through the Mumbai Airport as a transit passenger again. Please, in case I forget in the future and say, "wow, this flight through Mumbai is much faster than the one through X city," PLEASE do not let me do it.

Let me first say that I think this issue is not really Mumbai's fault. I don't think they get a lot of international transit passengers like other places do. One reason I say that is that the transit area that you can go into is VERY small AND it was empty each time I went. :) I think most people fly to Mumbai because they are going there or they are going somewhere in India. I might be wrong, but that is the feeling I got.

So, we were delayed by almost an hour leaving KL. Of course, I knew I would want a bottle of water for medicine and just to drink since my throat was sore and I was hacking up a lung (don't you wish you were sitting next to ME on the plane). I bought a water and a diet coke for 8 RM. I was all happy and proud, and then I had to go through a security thing at the gate itself. And I couldn't bring my drinks. :( :( Very sad moment. So, they start boarding the flight on time, and then all of the sudden they announce that they are going to stop boarding. They don't get the people off which I think is a good sign. I am worried because there is only one flight from Mumbai to Atlanta a day. Since I don't have a visa in India, I would rather stay in KL if I am going to be stuck for another day. I want to get home, so I just sit there playing all of the scenarios out in my head. Finally, they say that they are going to start boarding and that the delay was due to the air traffic in Mumbai.

I get on the plane, and I am sitting next to a nice lady wearing orange and white. I felt right at home. The flight is rough on the way to Mumbai, but not too bad. I sleep for a while, and I watched TV for the rest. Somewhere along the way, I hear that the delay was due to a mechanical issue. Of course, I think of this every time the ride is rough. There was a really nice flight attendant who brought me hot water with lemon and honey to see if it would help my throat. It did help for a bit.

We land in Mumbai, and I now only have a little over an hour. I have a man who takes me to the transit area and he tells this other man that I am a "Hot Transfer" which I assumed meant there wasn't much time. One of them goes to get my luggage moved and the other goes to get my boarding pass. I am left alone again with no passport, but this time I was at least in public. :) After about 35 minutes, the first man comes back and says he got my luggage. Then, almost immediately, the other man comes and says that he got my boarding pass. So, they tell me that I have to go back through security and that I need to hurry because the flight leaves in 30 minutes and is already boarding.

The nice hot transfer man takes me to security. I almost pass out as the line was REALLY long. The nice hot transfer man was going to take me to the front of the line, but this evil lady says, "the American will wait in the line like all of the other passengers." Well, that wasn't very nice at all! The nice man wants to help and I can see that. I just follow him and I see him looking to help me. Then, he sees that hateful woman staring at him, so he goes over to her. He makes a motion to me to go in front of everyone. I feel a little weird pushing my way through such a long line in a foreign country, and I don't want to do it. But, I don't want to be stuck in the transit area for 24 hours either. I must look worried as this very, very, very kind woman asks what time my flight is. I tell her 12:10, and she says that I must go. She says to just go through the line and just keep saying 12:10, 12:10 and that people will let me through. So, I do what she says with a lot of "excuse me" and "I'm sorry" and "thank you so much." I get to the front (finally!), and there is this security man there. He has to put some tags on my carry on bag which I think is weird but I don't dare question. He sends me on my way. I go through security, and then lady wands me (no alarm went off) AND she pats me down - a lot. Then, she says that my boarding pass doesn't have DT on it, so I must go BACK trough the line of all of those people and get them to put DT on it. WHAT??????????????????????????????? This other lady says that I should refuse and she is arguing with them about the same issue, but I am a foreigner here so I just start going back through the line with tears in my eyes but refusing to cry. I now have about 20 minutes to my flight. I think I am not going to make it, but I am trying so hard.

I get back to that mean woman, and I tell her that someone didn't do their job and my ticket doesn't say DT on it. She hastily writes DT on it. GRRRRR....she doesn't even put initials or anything. I could have written DT, but I didn't want to go to Indian jail so I didn't.

I make my way BACK through ALL of the people with more "excuse me" and "I'm sorry" and "thank you so much." I get back to the lady who made me do that and she wands me AGAIN. She then says I can go. I am so thankful that my two carry on bags are there (my computer, phone, wallet, everything was in those bags but they made me leave them).

I run to the gate where this lady is waiting for me and asks if I am going to Atlanta. "Mrs. Gleason, you are very late" she says to me. I fight the urge to explain and just say that my inbound flight was delayed. She says I have to put my bag through the screening thing AGAIN at the gate. Man, this is one secure plane! So, my bags go through again and then she takes me to this curtain area. Here, this woman doesn't even wand me. Instead, she pats down EVERY inch of my body. I think we are dating now. She decides that I don't have anything hidden in my bra or panties, and she lets me go. I think I am done, but NOOOOOOOOOOOOO....

So, then, the lady opens this door and there is this LONG metal staircase outside. She says we hvea to go identify my bags. Seriously????? So, I lug my stuff down this slanted, metal staircase hoping that it doesn't fall, and I see my suitcases on the ground at about halfway (just kidding, I could see them the whole way). So, I get all the way down there where it is very loud, and the lady asks me nine million security questions. "Where have your bags been?" Uh, duh, on the plane? "Did you pack them?" Oh yes, and I had to go shopping to buy that other bag because I had too much stuff...oh, sorry, short answers, yes. "Do you have any weapons?" no. "Anything that LOOKS like a weapon?" No. "Did anyone give you anything?" No. "Do you have any liquids?" In my checked luggage? uh, yeah, isnt' that why you have checked luggage?? No, I did't say that out loud but I wanted to say it. I just said yes, in my checked bag and the allowed size in my carry on. And on and on and on. I think there must be a camera somewhere, but she keeps going. Finally, she says that if I swear I have been truthful that I can go back up the stairs. I lug my stuff BACK up the stairs (praying that they don't fall), and I get on the plane. Of course, by now, I am THE last person on the plane. THE last one. Do you think there is a place to put my bag in the overhead? You guessed it. NO! :) Before I can have a breakdown, a nice flight attendant comes and says that there is room in first class for it. Whew. I sit down in my seat, drop my backpack, and collapse for a second. MAYBE 10 seconds. This guy next to me says, "can you put that bag under the seat?" OBVIOUSLY, he did not know what my last hour was like. So, I ask him if he can just please give me a minute to get settled and that yes it will go under the seat. Even tough I was prepared to hate him, he actually was nice once the evil bag was properly stored. :)

I watched Lost, so I am now all caught up. :) I watched "Definitely Maybe" and I watched "Love Actually." They were good. I also took ambien and slept. Ahhhh...sleep. 18 hours is a LONG time. A really long time on a plane. I was very happy to land in Atlanta.

When we get off the plane, I notice that most of the flights say cancelled. UH OH. My flight was delayed about an hour, but it wasn't too bad.

So, remember, friends don't let friends transit in Mumbai. :) And, this is not a reflection of Mumbai - just the airport. :)


  1. Exactly the same questions that I, a Mumbai passenger, get asked at places like Amsterdam and London. Hateful, isn't it, but you are not the only victim here. Should make me swear off Western airports, shouldn't it?

  2. Hi Geetha...

    I didn't mean to offend by my post. I really just got the feeling that Mumbai wasn't really a big transit place. It seemed that other airports are geared more toward transit passengers. That's all.


  3. hey Amy,

    That is really sad to hear. but ya as u said mumbai is really isnt a transit area. I went home (India) last dec after a year an half in Aus n landed first time in arrivals in mumbai. I had go all the way back from where i started becoz of the instructions for collecting bags , they r confusing. And i also got frustrated.