Spicy air travel

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Was on short vacation to Goa few weeks back , while on my return I did have enough turbulence before we reached Chennai safely. Well, it was not turbulence due to weather, but due to cancellation of flight from Goa to Chennai. One would think, so what, flight cancellations are common, but I felt mine of unique.

Our return flight was at 4:40 PM, since we had visited scenic beaches the previous day, we did not have any plan to visit place the day of our return journey. Our initial plan was to check out at Hotel around 1:00 PM have lunch and proceed to airport, which is about 35 KM from our hotel. However, the previous day our cab driver suggested to start an hour early and he can take us to couple of beach in south Goa near airport before dropping us at airport for flight. This seemed fine and we agreed.

The next day, the driver picked us up at hotel post check out at 11:30 AM and we went to restaurant for lunch. Post lunch as the driver was taking us to a beach, it was 12:20 PM and a got a recorded phone call from airline stating the flight is cancelled for the evening and asking me bluntly to reach out to call center.

While on the way to a beach, I called up airline call center at 12:30 PM and gave my ticket PNR number and waited for a moment. The rest of it,

Call center:
Yes, Sir how may I assist you.

Myself: What does your system say about my booking

Call center: Sorry sir, we really apologize for inconvenience caused, you flight is cancelled for the day.
(This was after I asked about the booking).

Myself: Why?.

Call center: Technical problem in flight,sir.

Myself: That's you problem to fix, so what are the options?

Call center: We have a flight tomorrow at 1:00 PM and you can travel with same ticket with no extra cost.

What??.... Will you provide for accommodation for stay, as I am not native of Goa and checked out of hotel? It will cost me a fortune for a night stay with family.

Call center: Sorry sir, we can’t provide accommodation (same reply came again and again).

****I was asking myself whether I have taken air ticket or a bus ticket to get such response? ****.

Myself: Come on, if you are not providing accommodation, is there alternative flight to other location like Bangalore, Hyderabad or Mumbai from where I can take flight to Chennai.

Call center: No sir, it already 12:45 PM, we have a flight to Bangalore at 1:55PM and to Hyderabad 2:15PM (then onward to Chennai at 19:25). From call center system allows for changes only upto 2 hours prior flight. Hence, unable to make change.

** I got some solace, immediately asked the cab driver to how long it takes to reach airport from that spot as he was driving towards beach location. He told me 30 minutes, immediately instructed him to drive to airport. ***

 Myself: Please get your supervisor, online. I will be in position to reach airport in another 40 minutes should be in time to reach in time Goa to Hyderabad flight. Hence put me on Hyderabad flight and had to shout" *********** and finally"

Call center: Hold on sir……….. Finally call center person confirms flight changes are done.

My wife and daughter, watching this, made a remark that they way, I was handling the situation was as thrilling like a movie scene..:).

In fact, there also a call few minutes later from airline spokesperson, stating my flight was cancelled, I shouted and asked her to check my reservation update in the system, she took few minutes and confirmed back...Hmmm....
Finally, we reached airport for flight by 1:10 PM and where in time for the flight check in and reached Chennai via Hyderabad.

Though, I was able to reach my home and flight cancellation is part and parcel of this industry, I had to manage the crisis on my own initiative for the fault on airline part.

Few question, for which I do not have answers,.

1. Airline being part of travel and hospitality industry, is it not the airline, who should have called me and informed about the flight option as from their internal computer system as they would know that, I am traveling with family and base location is different?.

2. In worst case, if airline cannot provide alternative on same day, should they not provide with appropriate accommodation?.

3. Being a no frill airline, compensation or accommodation are not applicable ?. If this is true, then passengers can be taken for a ride, particularly for small aircraft, when there are no adequate bookings and they can cite this point, if really needed.

Interestingly, the in flight crew circulated the feedback forms and collected it back, though I did mention few points in feedback. Not sure, whether these would be addressed OR is their a guideline/rule of law for passengers in event of cancellation by airline regulatory body for domestic flights in India?.

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Goa, India - Travelogue - Part 2

Sunday, July 7, 2013

This is part 2 of my Goa Travelogue. Part 1 is here.

Next day, based on reviews on web short listed some of the Goa – North beaches and started from hotel at 9:00 AM. Being monsoon, it was drizzling intermittently in morning and little worried that it may play spoil sport, however post 9:00 AM the rain stopped.

Our first stop was Fort Aguda. The Portuguese built fort in 16th century has a history behind it (refer Photos). I believe it might be one of its kind in the world where you can view the Arabian Sea from on one side and lush green on the other side. Normally in the vicinity of sea shore, one would not find greenery, but here you would find lush green around you. Interesting all north Goa seashore is different. Most of the north beaches were unique, it might be from top of hillock with greenery around.

Short distance from Fort Aguda is Sinquerim beach. This is one among the scenic beach in Goa. At first look, this was similar to ‘Uyire’ song location in film - Mumbai, but later I got to know that ‘Uyire’ song sequence was shot at Bekel fort in Kerala. But Sinquerim beach resembled almost similar with fort like wall at certain places. One can have good view of scenic coastline from old fort like structure. Added to this there is greenery, coconut trees around, hillocks and rocks spread across provides nature indication as why these beaches are unique of its kind.

Next on our list was Baga beach. It looks to be a regular beach when you just look at it and was crowded and hence did not like it at first sight. However, on the other side there are hillocks, greenery and more importantly the water streams into backwater flow as you walk across some distance away from crowd. We went to this place in the afternoon, the backwater formation was wonderful and scenic. Nice beach for nature lovers, once you get absorbed and look around.

Ajuna and Vegator beach nearby to each other. These beaches are unique, more than sea shore with sand, you will find yourself perched on top of hillock and apart from Arabian sea, you can get absorbed by greenery, coconut trees and hillock on sides. In Vagator, one would be in position to look at Chapara fort at a distance, this would require some trekking for which we did not have enough time or energy as its was already 2:00 PM and were just was just munching snacks. Time for our lunch, and hence had to travel back close to 40 KM to reach Panjim had late lunch.

Next day, we had initial plans to visit couple of places on way back to airport, but gave it up and proceeded to airport straight as Spice Jet provided with some anxious moments on travel back to Chennai with cancellation of Goa – Chennai flight for the day. 

Goa…… has not lost its charm, still worth a trip to experience the uniqueness of its beaches.

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Goa - A travelogue - Part 1

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Travel to Goa was in my mind for some time now. As Goa is approx 1000 km from Chennai, traveling by car was ruled out, the alternative option was only Train or Air. I understand there is a weekly train from Chennai and considering travel time, this was ruled out, since had a very short vacation in last week of June and the option was only air. Train to Goa from Chennai is said to go via picturesque view of Dudh Sagar falls approx 80 km from Goa.

Short trip of with 2 nights, 3 days stay in Goa and had the hotel booked with Marriott resort. We took Spice jet as it offer daily flight to Goa, however we did have some really spicy time with Spice jet on our Goa to Chennai return which will write later.

We reached Goa in evening around 4:00PM and found the weather pleasant, with short spell of welcome rain as this being monsoon season in Goa. Goa airport to Marriott take about an hour’s time. I was pleasantly surprised by the greenery all around. My thought was Goa being a city on shore, I thought it would be like Chennai and however it was different than I expected and more importantly, not much of traffic on road towards Marriott.I understood from the cab driver,that it was off-season now and the peak season would be towards Christmas.

Marriott resort was right on the beach, and it was altogether a new experience to view the beach right on from the reception just about 100 meters away. I still remember Kanyakumari, which  used to have a TTDC hotel right opposite beach, but it was about 500 mts away, not sure whether Hotel TTDC at Kanyakumari is still there?.

Though Marriott is right on Miramar Beach, the particular stretch along Marriot is not attracted by public and as it looks to be little far from main Miramar beach. It was calm with some scenic view. Just in front, in about few kms away right on the Arabian sea, one would find hillock, with fort Aguda housing the ancient light house built by Portuguese in 1612 AD. On the other side, one would side Mandovi river flowing into sea with a greenery hillock on other side. There is ferry spot along Mandovi river. All this provided an awesome view...

We had Dinner in a near by restaurant and were back post dinner relaxed till about 10 PM on Miramar Beach.
The next day, we choose to visit some of the north side beaches of Goa… Will continue about it later....

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