• This is India! 139

This is India! 139

Welcome back to This is India! I always have funny/weird stories about India to share with friends or family when I talk to them. This is just meant to be an honest portrayal about my life in India through short anecdotes. I also share here what I’ve been up to online outside Werkenntwen.

What I was up to other than here:

  • I’ve been in Bali forever it feels like! It is almost a 3-week trip and I spend the first 10 days surfing and destroying myself.. first my knee, then a black eye which I still have now, a week later. I’m writing this from a big fluffy bed at the Alila Seminyak, watching the sun set over the ocean from my balcony window. Nice. Bali is amazing and I lot of content coming soon.
  • I recently gave my brother a rolling duffel from TripAdvisor collection (yes they make luggage now!) and you can get it on Ebags for 25% off if you use that link. He’s obsessed with it and he’s hard to please so that means it’s good! You can also use that link to get 20% off most everything on their site if you’re looking for new luggage.
  • What I’ve been reading…. Hmm, nothing that memorable! I read Lauren Graham’s book, Talking As Fast As I Can. (sort of a memoir but mostly about Gilmore Girls); I hated the renewal so didn’t really connect to this either! I like reading celebrity memoirs when I travel and I read Anna Kendricks’s book Scrappy Little Nobody. It was hilarious! I loved it! Of course, I had to read a thriller because that’s my favorite and I went with Behind Closed Doors because it was being rated as the next Gone Girl. It wasn’t. I found the story line really good but it was too obvious to me.

Now your story,

Looking back, this story isn’t that bad but at the time, I was ready to kill someone (not literally, sort of).

So the day before leaving for Bali, Ben was in Maharashtra and things were going crazy at work (a whole other story!) so he didn’t get back until midnight. We had to be up at 4 am for our flight so needless to say we didn’t get much sleep and were off to the airport already tired.

At Goa airport, we had our Air India tickets from Goa to Chennai and Chennai to Singapore before we switched to Air Asia. I’d booked with kiwi.com who have a guarantee if you miss a connection, they’ll put you on another flight.

First. the guy in Goa was clueless, then security was annoying me (as many people seem to have never flown so they don’t understand you have to WAIT in line to put your bags on the belt & walk through the sensor. They just cut and carry their purse through the sensor and have to go back through – but WHY does no one in Indian airports do what they do abroad and have a guy standing there saying: “take off your shoes, belts, and jewelry in the baskets… etc” ANYWAY…

Our bags were Air India to Singapore so were checked onward to there. Chennai airport is a shitshow – and when you fly onward you have to pick up your luggage even though in Goa they strictly tell you that you do not and it will be in Singapore waiting for you.

Basically, Chennai was a mess and we had to go through loads of security again with our luggage.

So, we board the 11 am flight to Singapore that is just 3.5 hours and are dreaming of getting a Burger King at the airport and we start taxing down the runway – only to come to a halt.

After some time we were told the brakes had frozen and the plane was stuck (all four brakes, thank god it happened while we hadn’t taken off yet).

We sat on the plane on the runway with just 3 update announcements for….


They served us lunch. On the runway.

I watched two movies.

We missed our connection.

Finally, they say that the engineers just can’t fix the problem and to get off the plane. This would definitely be illegal in U.S where you can’t make people stay on a plane that long before take off, but anyway we got off and wandered back to the baggage claim area to see the next steps.

The 2 young girls there and 1 manager didn’t’ know what was next. They didn’t have a computer to look up other flights.

170 people were all crowded around yelling about their connections and the staff wanted us all to give our name and phone # so they could call us later and tell us if there was another flight which could be at any time.

So, that took AGES because as you know in India there are no lines. People were really angry and it was actually nice to see Indian people stand up for the rights they SHOULD have with an airline but don’t because Air India gives you no rights.

They weren’t even pretending to look up when a flight could be. They were just nodding along to everyone’s complaints. Even for India, it was pretty shocking. I should have recorded it! I really thought with this many people all trying to talk at once and crowding them, there is no way we will ever sort this mess out.

At one point Ben realized he left his boarding pass on the plane. He told the manager as they might need it later and the manager looks at Ben point blank and says “how can you be so careless?”

So, that didn’t go over well and I thought about stepping in, but let Ben get his rage out.

I am actually laughing now thinking about it.

They told us to go hotels and there were just taxi guys promising that they were with Air India and to get in their cab. So we did and passed about 100 hotels as we drove 1 hour away from the airport to our hotel. It was around 6 pm.

We were exhausted but couldn’t sleep because we didn’t know when our flight could be.

So, we tried to call the Air India office at the airport which no one answered a few time. Around 9 pm I called the main office in Mumbai and said please update us on this…. They replied with:

“We have strict confirmation that flight took off and landed in Singapore hours ago. It’s in the system”.

I then got told off for using profanity, as one does when they realize Air India literally doesn’t know anything.

Around 10 pm we get a call to Ben’s phone:

“Rajesh (insert some Indian last name)”

Erm, no…

“Oh you aren’t Rajesh from the Air India flight, never mind, bye!”

No, WAIT! I was on the flight, you have my number there – tell me what is the news?

“The flight is soon so come to the airport by 11 pm…”

So, the passengers that were at our hotel all gathered for shuttles back and the flight was at 3 am (so we sat in crappy Chennai airport for hours when we could have slept at the hotel).

The flight was, of course, delayed.

We called Kiwi.com who were the BEST and honored their promise and got us on later flights from Singapore. So instead of a 13-hour journey, it was about 48.

Flight cancellations happen to everyone, but I am telling you, ones in India are worse lol.

When we got to Singapore, we had 9 hours to kill and had missed two nights of sleep, so checked into the Aerotel Transit Hotel in Changi Airport that you can book for 6-hour increments. There is a pool! We slept the whole time though and felt so much better after. I wish all airports had this, especially in India. Then we enjoyed the Plaza Premium Lounge and had some snacks and drinks in quiet before our flight. I love airport lounges in Asia. So affordable!








About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Werkenntwen, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Werkenntwen has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. Pradipta March 18, 2017 at 1:00 am - Reply

    Ohh.. Terrific journey, I do not how Airline did this. You people are frequent fliers otherwise for any other people whole things would definitely create serious panic and anxiety. I could never handle such shitty situation.

  2. Rika | Cubicle Throwdown March 18, 2017 at 6:18 pm - Reply

    I still love all your posts in this series, and I remember number 1!! This sounds like a nightmare…. I’ve never been to India but this is exactly how I picture flight delays there haha. That’s cool that there was an airport hotel you could book in 6 hour increments – I’ve never seen that before and that would be super useful!!

    • Rachel Jones March 19, 2017 at 8:55 am - Reply

      Haha yeah, it was basically a shit show but looking back it was pretty funny.

  3. Jacob March 18, 2017 at 8:33 pm - Reply

    Air India has problem with may be on-ground staff. But atleast it carries tens of millions of people daily in world’s fastest growing airline market(as few percentage use it).
    I dont understand why westerners are hell bent on defaming Air India(or India).
    Just saw vlogs(on youtube) of foreigners/americans, literally spewing hate for Indians or India including Air India.
    They won’t see the hospitality or warmness of the people. Honestly, FED UP OF THESE PEOPLE.

    • Rachel Jones March 19, 2017 at 8:56 am - Reply

      lol don’t worry I “defame” American Airlines all the time too ;)

      • Jacob March 20, 2017 at 3:43 pm - Reply

        okay ;)

    • Rahul Sood March 19, 2017 at 4:43 pm - Reply

      I am Indian living in states. I have never flown Air India but heard about what shit show they run even from Indians. No one really likes to make fun of another country. Westerners would start praising Air India if it just got its act together. Look at Singapore that is also an Asian country and every westerner talks highly of it because they know how to behave and conduct business. In India there is no discipline, people dont use any manners, they behave like cattle.

      • Rachel Jones March 20, 2017 at 2:34 pm - Reply

        There are a lot of Indian airlines I do love: Jet, IndiGo, even GoAir… Spicejet isn’t bad! But yeah, Air India leaves something to be desire unfortunately.

  4. Rik March 19, 2017 at 9:49 am - Reply

    Thanks Rachel for a useful post that many travellers who have flown Air India will relate to. The practice happens so often that I avoid Air India if I can, just to avoid this scenario and associated stress.

    • Rachel Jones March 20, 2017 at 2:30 pm - Reply

      Yeah, I rarely try not to fly specific airlines, but usually do try to avoid them as they are almost always delayed a bit.

  5. south asian photo March 19, 2017 at 12:20 pm - Reply

    Oh Man! I hate it when flights are cancelled or delayed. My last flight from Kathmandu to Delhi was delayed 3 hours. It was a Royal Nepal flight. The staff was nice to me because I was one of the only foreigners. They fed us and I made a new friend who lives in Delhi and has similar interests, so it worked out.

    Also, I know it is not related to this post but I did some research about the camera and the monsoon. What I read says to use the camera frequently. If the sun is out, set the camera in the sun but remove the lens and put the lens cap on the camera body. The UV rays kill the fungus that causes mold. You can also get silica gels (the little balls) to put around the camera to reduce the humidity around the camera. Or you could buy a dehumidifier. What I read also says not to store the camera in a cabinet or drawer or in the basement.

    Hope this helps!
    :) Betsy

    • Rachel Jones March 20, 2017 at 2:31 pm - Reply

      Thanks for telling me that! You’ll never guess what happened… my lens broke! It is jammed or something and when I turn it to open it it just won’t go. Maybe I somehow got sand in it? IDK! UGH! So, turns out mold isn’t my biggest problem, my recklessness is!

      • south asian photo March 20, 2017 at 3:15 pm - Reply

        Oh man! That is no good. Sorry! My mom was just here and she has a dslr. Her know that changes the shooting mode is jammed and she thinks it is sand but it happened before she came here.
        I hope you can get the lens fixed!

  6. Johann Kuruvilla March 19, 2017 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    Hi Rachel, I understand your unfortunate situation here and I’m glad you made it out alive. But I don’t think this is just Air India, maybe not Emirates and the likes but one my friend’s had a similar situation with KLM in the middle east in Qatar, the richest country in the world. So this is not only with Air India. The same could happen to you at any airport or any airline. Not that Indian airports are so good, but there are South East Asian airports which are hopeless. I hope you have better experiences in the future with Air India and Indian airports.

    • Rachel Jones March 20, 2017 at 2:33 pm - Reply

      Yes, of course it isn’t just Air India, but this story is about Air India. I’ve written similar ones about United Airlines (USA company). But, the level of unpreparedness and disorganization in this situation was very Indian and would not have happened in somewhere like the USA.

  7. Tanz March 19, 2017 at 8:48 pm - Reply

    Indian airlines need to have better customer service.That’s one big thing lacking there. They take everything with a “Bindaas” attitude that annoys the crap out of you. Imagine a major airline like Air India treating their customers like this. Sometimes I wonder how they’ve survived for so long.
    Also, seeing mumbai’s, delhi’s & Bengaluru’s amazing new airports, I’m so surprised that Chennai has a crappy one!
    Someone needs to tell the Tamil Nadu government they need to step on it. The city has millions flying out of it & it’s about time the airport gets a 21st century makeover.

    • Rachel Jones March 20, 2017 at 2:35 pm - Reply

      Yeah, I remember why I tried to avoid Chennai airport once I went through again – it’s only a mess when you have to go there for a connecting flight to an international destination. Their system just makes no sense to me! But, what do I know about airports hahaa!

  8. thebritishberliner March 21, 2017 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    What a nightmare! I’m so glad that you made it out of there relatively sane-like and with a bit of a nap at the airport hotel. Thank goodness one can afford to do so. What a mess!

    p.s. Great story though! ;)

    • Rachel Jones March 21, 2017 at 2:23 pm - Reply

      Lol yes it was nice to take a nap… I just flew back from Bali and napped on the airport floor in Hyderabad though lol so it’s not also so nice ;)

  9. About Creativity March 21, 2017 at 6:40 pm - Reply

    Very Very good story and Thank you!

  10. Julz March 31, 2017 at 11:48 am - Reply

    I used to work as FOM at an airport hotel in the UK. The worse flight delays were always Air India They would dump the passengers, we never knew how long. It was just chaos!! Your story made me laugh, i can only begin to imagine how it is in India!! I love Bali, lived in Semyniak for naarly 2 years.

    • Rachel Jones March 31, 2017 at 1:20 pm - Reply

      Oh, wow! I was wondering what it was like when they had this chaos in other countries – so interesting to hear your side of it!

  11. UrbanDuniya (@urbanduniya) April 3, 2017 at 5:47 am - Reply

    OMG how useless are they? And then when you called up and they told you off for using profanity! Ridiculous. And I’m sorry about Chennai airport. They said it was going to be finished while I lived there – that was 2012. So on behalf of Chennai, i’m sorry!! :p

    • Rachel Jones April 3, 2017 at 12:20 pm - Reply

      Lol at the point when they ASSURED me the plane had already landed in Singapore, it was too hard not to use profanity hahah

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