Sunday, January 10, 2010

Flight 292....I Mean, Flight 9222

Travel from Chicago in January tends to be very weather dependent, so it came as no surprise when four days prior to departure we learned of a large winter system approaching that was set to dump six to twelve inches on our date of departure.  On the plus side, we were on a large international flight, so I was confident we’d get out of Chicago at some point that night.  When the first delay was announced, I was pleasantly surprised.  Selfishly, I now knew I had at least a chance of catching part of the BCS National Championship.

Unfortunately, there were no additional announced delays, so as Mack Brown bravely lead his team onto the field, I was making my way to the gate.  After a short ground delay and the typical deicing routine, we were finally on our way, allegedly to begin the adventure of a lifetime.

About an hour into the flight, the dreaded “is there a medical doctor on board?” announcement came over the PA system.  I didn’t think too much of it, and went about my way enjoying “I Love You, Man” (a good movie the first time and much better the second).  Then, somewhere slightly south of Hudson Bay, the captain came back on the system and announced the situation had not improved and that we were headed to the nearest large airport, Boston’s Logan International.

Upon landing, the paramedics greeted the plane and headed to the back to help the ailing man.  A few minutes later the ailing man and his wife shuffled down the aisle.  To be honest, I was expecting the worst, something like a heart attack or a stroke or at least to see someone on a stretcher.  The true culprit?  Urinary blockage.   Apparently the doctor felt it important enough to turn around a plane when an aging passenger can’t urinate for 15 hours; and to be honest, who am I to question that?

We sat on the ground for about an hour while American figured out how to handle the situation.  The captain kept us informed of what the possible options were, including (1) returning to Chicago and trying again the next day (bad option since the weather in Chicago still sucked), (2) canceling the flight and letting everyone fend for themselves from Boston (bad option for obviously reasons), or (3) continuing the flight after giving the crew time to rest (good option).   When the final decision was made, we learned option three was selected but that we wouldn’t leave until 6:30pm that night (it was around 5:00am ET at this point), effectively pushing back our arrival in Delhi by one full day.

At this point, I went to stand in line to rebook and Lindsay went to the bathroom, which turned out to be her best call of the day.  She ended up walking past the Admiral’s Club which had no line and found a faster way to get our new plans finalized.  A nice gentleman, Hector, saved our day.  Not only did he get us set up with a room at the Hyatt, he held the duty free purchases we had made onboard (through all of this, a primary problem to solve was determining how we’d get our duty free purchases (i.e., 2 liters of liquid) back onto the plane).

After a six hour nap and a quick meal, we were back at the airport waiting for the flight.  All things considered, it was a fairly comfortable way to spend what could have been a very inconvenient situation, though I’m certain if I had been going for a specific meeting or vacation, I would have had a very different attitude.

American handled the situation quite well.  If nothing else, it would make a great case interview question, “Three hours into the flight, a plane from Chicago to Delhi gets diverted to Boston.  How much money does this cost the airline?”  I shudder to think the expense and don’t have the mental capacity to work through the problem right now, but suffice to say there really are no winners in diverted flight situations (perhaps other than hotel chains).

The actual flight to Delhi was uneventful.  Lindsay befriended the stewardess, Marty, which helped for two reasons; (1) she held back a nice bottle of wine for us and (2) Lindsay was able to get the scoop on the passenger in front of us, who turned out to be a bit of a handful, was flying on some sort of pass (or as Marty called him, “non-rev”), and had requested that Marty remove all the white nuts from the mixed nut bowl.  She declined.

Upon arrival, customs was no issue; for some reason I was concerned the amount of electronics we had on our person (2 work computers, 2 personal computers, 2 cameras, 2 Kindles, and lots of power cords) but decided a “don’t ask, don’t tell” strategy would work best.  As we walked into the arrivals hall we easily found the hotel placard with our name.  They seemed surprised at the amount of luggage we had as they hadn’t brought a large vehicle like we had requested.  They then claimed they didn’t expect us to be coming as the flights from Chicago had been canceled the past two days.  I decided against reminding them that they held a placard with our name.  After all our delays, an extra fifteen minutes wasn’t going to hurt anything.  If nothing else, it provided me the opportunity to see some dude (that worked at the airport) wearing potentially the greatest sweater vest in human history; that is, a white vest with Jim Morrison’s face covering the entire front.  I briefly considered offering to purchase it.  If you’ve seen better, I’d love to hear about it.
We arrived and checked into the hotel, where we’ll be living for a few days as our apartment gets finalized.  Today’s schedule includes a whole lot of nothing; a stop at the gym promises to be the most productive part of the day; that is, unless you count “testing” the Slingbox.  As I type, I’m in the club lounge, alternating between listening to Lindsay read the Sunday matrimonials from the Hindustan Times and listening to two hotel employees perform a delightful sing-along to an elevator music version of Celine Dion’s blockbuster hit, “My Heart Will Go On”.

On deck for the coming week; getting settled at the office, registering at the Foreign Regional Registration Office (FRRO), hopefully getting into our apartment, potentially joining the country club, and the arrival of the first familiar faces from work next weekend on a short business trip.  Not surprisingly, a lot of "hopefully" and "potentially" mixed in there.

Welcome to India.


  1. John forgot to mention how he turns into a nervous wierdo when it comes to customs (might have to do with all the machine guns). We figured out on our original Indian adventure that it's much better for everyone involved if John holds his own passport. Not sure why even with his own 'documents' that he turns into a nervous narvous but he does(yes that is a straight up Lindsay word).

  2. I get nervous just going through the metal detectors in the good ole USA. Smiles, Mom