Warning : Major rant ahead!!!
My daughter says.. “Go to Indeeya.. in Big Airplane.. in Big Helicopter”. Wish it were that easy!
I am finally at a point where I can plan a trip to India after one and a half years. It felt like eternity before I got here (to the planning stage I mean), but it seems like eternity twice over before I can get an air ticket.
So, I tried to buy a ticket. Agreed I have a bunch of restrictions and conditions. I want the cheapest fare possible, I want a convenient itinerary, I need to be able to cancel or reschedule if I don’t get my travel document in time, I don’t want to fly through Heathrow because they need me to get a visa so that I can stand in their never-ending unapologetic security lines plus I want to travel during the busiest holiday season of the year. So I called this travel agent guy S, who seems to be the only one all my acquaintances know about. S who spoke sweetly and was quite helpful one and half years ago, was least interested in getting us a ticket. It seems that he has more than enough regular customers whom he needs to keep happy. Obviously I cannot travel to India 4 times a year, just so the travel agent returns my calls. So after calling him half a dozen times trying to get quotes and never receiving any information, I gave up on him. Then, I found this other guy P who is the only other guy in my extended circle of acquaintances who can get me a cheap ticket to India. I called him and he gave me decent rates if I travelled Air India (which I admit I have something against) or British Airways (which I want to avoid because of Heathrow). I asked him again and again if he could get me tickets via Jet Airways which I’ve heard is very comfortable, plus it goes through Brussels which is an unknown pain and is hence much better. But he insisted that it was not convenient and that there was no such itinerary possible. I found it for him on Orbitz.com and Expedia.com and told him, that it is possible to get those tickets, but he relented. So I gave up on him (or so I thought) and moved on to the third guy who was recommended by my Telugu friend (my husband always commends their choice because they have a huge network and are capable of fishing for good deals on anything). This guy was friendly and prompt and was prepared to find the Jet Airways itinerary, but I found that it was not as cheap as I would have liked. So back I went to the second guy P, and asked him to get me tickets for British Airways (the inconvenience at Heathrow is not worth $900). After repeated phone calls he finally told me that the excellent deal he offered was no longer available, and if I stay one day lesser in India, he could get me a better deal. So again, since a day in India is not worth $400, I decided to change my schedule to suit my fare. He then told me, he cannot book my tickets because “some” other agent had already booked in my name!! What the hell!! How can somebody book tickets when all I’ve done is shopped for rates? “No, Ma’am they will usually do that”, he said. So, the only way he can book my tickets is if the other guy stays a nice guy and says “It’s ok if you don’t buy tickets from me, I will be so nice as to cancel your booking so that you can buy them from some other agent”, which obviously is not going to happen. But since I have no option, I call him and beseech him to please cancel all bookings in my name, which he instantly agrees to and pretty much hangs up on me. Two days after that, I spent making calls to the two agents – trying to see if the agent who was to book my tickets had been able to do it yet or not, and the other agent to confirm if he had indeed cancelled the booking he claimed to have cancelled.
Having finally gotten through all that, I find :
Final cost of my British Airways ticket
+ Expected cost of UK visa
– Cost of my Jet Airways tickets
= $100 approx.
But enough is enough, I do not have the emotional strength or minutes on my cell phone to talk to any more agents or haggle with them. So I will fly British airways, endure Heathrow and hopefully have a short but enjoyable stay in India, provided USCIS woud be so nice as to send me my advance parole in under 5 months. Phew!!
Sorry about the rant…. but no option.. I had to get it out of my system!