Saturday, 20 July 2013

Flying off to America

It was 9:00 pm and I was really struggling to concentrate sitting in front of my PC, trying to online-check-in for my family. The plan was to put the children to bed at 7:00 pm. So that they could get enough sleep when they wake up 5:00 am the next morning to catch the 10:00 am flight to Charlotte, America.  However, like every Punjabi family,  we were late!

I sat in the study room staring at the computer thinking, how do we manage to be in this situation every time. I believe the modern term is 'last minute dot com'. The suitcases weren't even packed properly let alone anything else; focus, I told myself. However, I did not go very further when I called out my wife's name, who at that point was giving my six month old a bath. 'I need your brother's address in America, do you have it handy'!? Well, she didn't but we managed. Like a good husband (wife would definitely beg to differ) I completed all my tasks for the night and went to bed, completely oblivious to the stressful time on the other side of the night. 

As I stood in the kitchen with a cup of tea in my hand, I had it all figured out. I knew exactly what time to leave to reach the airport on time. Also, checked all the paper work and as I had the day off, I even planned my chores for the rest of the day (after dropping my family).  Both me and my wife looked at each other and knew it was time to go, both children were ready and it was only 6:00 am. I wanted to make sure it was terminal one. So, while I excused myself to the washroom, wife looked up the flight status. Few moments later I came out of the restroom to a long face. 'What happened'!? I asked. Oh boy, the flight was cancelled! It was not rescheduled and the US airways have sent us a string of e-mails over night to let us know about the cancellation.The maintenance went wrong apparently; it took me a while to digest the news. I cannot recall if I was more upset because my family could not go or I had to go to work. 

Next task, both wife and I knew was going to be difficult, however we had to do it. we approached our eldest and broke the news to him. He stopped jumping around and concentrated on what we had to say. To our surprise there was no drama, he nodded and asked if the tire had come off. I quickly nodded and said that could be one of the possibilities. I then explained further that we may not be able to go today but may be tomorrow. At that point, he wasn't interested anymore in the conversation and he continued playing with his toys (I do not blame him, after all he could not go and see his cousins - for now). I looked at the time it was 6:30 am, I had half an hour before I could reach the airlines on the only available premium number. I tried to search for a toll free or a land line but I gave up after a couple of minutes.

I do not know about my other half, however, I felt so weird about the whole situation. It is because wife and I had a heated discussion about going to America when we had just come back from Hong Kong a month before. However this trip is completely justifed as my wife's mother is quite ill and the daughter reallys needs to see her. I remember the day when she booked the tickets, a lot of things went wrong, such as it took few days to resolve the payment. I received hunderds of calls at work about the issues she was encountering while booking the flight. Yet when we had packed everything and were on time, the flight was cancelled all together. It could be a sign I thought, but suddenly another voice said, you're dealing with American airlines and their agents, this was expected!

I really just wanted to stay home as I only had two to three hours sleep and mentally wasn't prepared for this 'change of course'. Well, I had no option as I would have wasted my leave, so I started getting ready while my wife got busy with the phone. As expected, they were putting us on hold and all we could think of was the money being charged for the premium line. The first time it was for half an hour, my wife decided to call back later. It was a mistake, she could not get hold of them at all afterwards. Well, in the mean time I thought it would be wise to turn up at work and cancel the leave so that I could re-book it for when ever the flight gets rescheduled.

It was now 9:00 am, and I had reached work where all my colleagues gathered around me to ask what was I doing at work! I narrated the whole situation to them, and they suggested to just to turn up at the airport for rescheduling the flight. Why didn't I think about that!? All sort of thoughts started bombarding me, for instance, what if that was what we were suppose to do. What if now they say, 'sorry chaps, you guys missed your flight which was rescheduled for 11:00 am on a different airlines. Well, to my relief nothing of that sort happened; my wife was finally able to get hold of them after two hours and rescheduled the flight. Unfortunately, there were no direct flights until the 22nd or the 30th. Typical of Punjabi couple, it took us an hour and words such as 'aukha thuada', 'paelan keya see', 'mainu emotional blackmail na karo' to re-book on the 30th. I actually thought that was the end of it all and how incorrect was I. I received yet another call from my wife informing  me that the flight had been changed to 22nd by her brother in America!

There was silence for couple of minutes, as if I had forgotten how to react in anger. I was quite upset but I know her brother, so saved all the ego-husband speech. However, I could not get a day off on the 22nd to drop wife and the kids at the airport, not even for couple of hours. My friends tried to help, but we decided (after another 'heated discussion') 30th would be best and her brother just need to live with it. Final hurdle was to persuade the airlines to change back the dates, which they did after we promised that it was the last time we were making the change. I called my wife then added another call so we could have a conference and I did all that while driving home from work; of course I was on hands-free!

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