Payanigal Gavanathukku..

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!

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22 thoughts on “Payanigal Gavanathukku..

  1. LOL. It’s pouring rants the last couple of days! Yours is the 3rd post in the last 20 minutes! 🙂

    India eh? *sigh. I shall not speak anymore.

    Rekha: Yeah.. I read your rant too. It’s almost like winter is round the corner and anything and everything bugs me.

  2. If you didn’t want to buy it through orbitz, why didn’t you call Jet Airways and ask them to match Orbitz ? That’s what we did, and it worked out fine..

    Rekha: I didn’t even know that was a possibility. May be next time.

  3. I’m going through so many knots trying to send my mum to Sydney!
    Sigh! Payanangal mudivadhillai!

    Rekha: Haha.. I thought it was easier from India. I have an ‘aasthaana’ travel agent who always does well for us when we travel from India.

  4. Rohit

    i think things like this are so much simpler in India…
    Americans have this problem of being so systematized, that the systems become a problem themselves..Phew.. thank god i didnt have to go through so much nachu when i had to go the US…

    Rekha: Actually it’s not an american problem, it’s a desi problem. Tickets to anywhere else are easy to buy. You get on a website and buy it with your credit card. For India however, it is much harder to do that.

  5. Anand.S

    I booked through sidestep, the flight was via Brussels, the flight was a mixture of AA and Jet airlines. The flight was good and the fare was 1645$. Don’t know how much your final fare is, but mine was booked 2 months prior.

    Rekha: I finally got BA – non-refundable for 1150. The refundable one was 1350. But your itinerary was the one I was trying to get.

  6. Raj

    Gavanam illama.. ‘Gavanthukku’nnu title pottuteengale…

    maamikum tanglish thadumarutho.. !!!!

    Rekha: Oh illai.. Payanigal Gavanathukku was copied from the announcements at the railway stations, though I agree Gavanam might have made more sense.

  7. Pradeep

    Idhukku dhaan budhisaalithanama company kaasula vandhuttu company kaasulaye poidanum… 🙂
    ha ha gopurangal saayvadhillai (absolutely random, but maami oda comment ku matching a irukkume nu adichutten 😉 )

    Rekha: Company kaasa? Adhu enna company pa.. Therinja naanum angayae vandhu sendhukaraen.

  8. I know you have your good reasons for avoiding BA, but last 2 times (including one coming up this here), I have simply booked BA on their website. The rate was as good as from travel agents, considering no hassles with agents, and good connections. Yes, someone may get $100 cheaper via an agent on Jet, or fly through 2 countries for less, but at this point, I thought the ease of booking here perhaps compensates for the difference. So, I am done with agents.

    Arun

    Rekha: We did travel BA last time, and after enquiring with one or two travel agents, we did buy it online. However, this time since we were looking initially for non-refundable, we had to buy through the agent.

  9. I always let my wife handle such matters…Ticket book panradhukku…onnumay pannala nu thittu vaangaradhey mel..

    Rekha: My husband did precisely the same thing and that’s why I am venting at my blog. All escapists you guys!!

  10. prem

    congrats on getting your ticket at last. hopefully it is the end of your woes…but meanwhile….you know where your passports are?

    hopefully i am wrong when i say that 4 – 5 months down the line we will be reading a blog on “my lost passport” 😀

    talking about lost passports…i better make sure i got mine in place coz im travelling too!

    Rekha: Oh Ya.. That reminds me. This time round, we need to make sure at least a month ahead that we haven’t lost any of our passports.

  11. Raj

    Maami… Gavanama nan ezhudinathai padiyungo…
    the title should be ‘payanigal gavanAthukku’… That A is missing….
    Adhai than solla vandhen….

    Rekha: Thanks for pointing that out. I’ve fixed it now. You now are tied in the first spot with ‘Me’ of imse.blogspot.com for being super-observant!

  12. Book 2 one-ways, sometimes that works cheaper and you get a better itinerary. But I totally empathize with your saga with travel agents – with so many people traveling to India (one look at the airline counter and you wouldn’t think air travel has gone up), guess they don’t really care for customer satisfaction or any such thing.

    Rekha: I’ve never tried that either. I totally agree with your point. With most Indians being affluent and with our interest to go to India every year or two no matter how expensive tickets are, no airline tries to ever give us special deals or good deals.

  13. brussels rawks! its eeerie full of desis so plenty of conversation possible. Jet is the only flight out of there so u have a terminal full of naamval.

    but then 1150? one way by any chance? if not pleez send me yor contacts name I’ll make another trip. It’s peanuts for what I paid… are u flying for thanksgiving or christmas?

    maxdavinci at gee male daat kaam.

    Rekha: Brussels airport lae poi evlo paera sight adichae?? Adhichirpiyae..
    Oh.. if jet was the only flight.. it must have been very convenient. I hope I can take Jet at least next time. I will send you the agent’s contact details. I will be flying out few days before thanksgiving and flying in new year eve. Ya ya.. seems like a long time.. but not much if u have to split between two places.

  14. Indeeya varela. Let me know if you are free to meet!

    Rekha: Yes. Yes.. Kandippa. Appram.. Please enakku mariyadhai elaam vendaam. I am about the same age as your son(s).

  15. Me

    Off topic, I went to NY and I liked it!

    Rekha: Yep.. Padichaen. Next time may be we should take the bus and see. And then.. chicago eppo? Naanum nanna samapaen!!

  16. Pingback: Penny wise pound foolish « NRI Maami

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