Part 2: Fighting with bureacracy and escaping India.
This report is part of a long trip from Goa to Denpassar (Bali). Because it became to lenghty to post as one I cut it into three parts. This is part 2.
Part 1 can be found here: Kingfisher Y - Goa To BOM (by henkybaby Mar 2 2010 in Trip Reports)
Part 3 can be found here: The CX Upper Deck Experience: HKG-DPS In J (by henkybaby Mar 2 2010 in Trip Reports)
This report deals with everything from the transfer in BOM to arriving in Hong Kong. I flew CX. This would be the first time I would fly their infamous herringbone J class for any lenght of time. I had flown it once from MNL to HKG but that was only an hour. I did recall I found it very claustrofobic so I was not necessarily looking forward to it. As usual I was being way too critical and the product is quite acceptable, although no match for BA J (hard product that is).
I had flown CX from BKK to BOM
A Long Trip From Thailand To Goa. TG, CX And IT. (by henkybaby Feb 21 2010 in Trip Reports)
and that was a very poor experience to say the least. CX surprised me this time with good crews on the BOM-HKG leg and a simply outstanding crew on the HKG-DPS leg. The tough part was getting out of India.
Seat 20K (Business)
Load factor: 60% in J
Dep: 04:05 (actual 05:25)
Arr: 11:45 (actual 13:15)
We had arrived in BOM Domestic around 17:40. Now it is important to realize that my next flight was at 04:05, which is the next day. And according to Indian bureaucracy that is a problem. While Richard (a nice guy I met on the GOI--BOM flight) was getting his luggage I was initiating round one of a 5 round battle to get to the lounge at BOM International. My first nemesis was the keeper of the passenger manifest of the transit bus. He refused to let me on the bus at first ("no sir, your flight tomorrow, you wait here until four hours to departure!" meaning at least 5 hours) but I blatently lied that I needed to get to the International Terminal to change my flight to the CX flight to DXB which left in 90 minutes. Since it was an 28 minute wait for the bus he now tried to tell me I would never make it but I had decided that I already won this battle. By the way: bribing these guys is useless. Richard came about 10 minutes before the bus left and used the same excuse. You might wonder why we lied, but they really will let you wait if the bus is full.
The second nemisis was am army security lady who once agains determines if you are worthy to board the bus. We did the same routine as before but she was more difficult to persuade. We got into quite a heated argument in fact. Finally I said "Listen, if you keep interviewing me for 10 minutes I will never make the DXB flight and no doubt more people will miss their connection!" . I said this pretty loud and the long line behind me was getting restless. She waived me through with noticeable contempt.
However, I am not sitting here for 6 hours! No sir (or rather: Madam)...
The bus was full and took forever. Forever being around 40 minutes. Now this is not really a sightseeing tour I can tell you. Here are some impressions of the trip...
They stopped us to let an El Al flight leave the gate but when they could not connect the (what do you call those vehicles that push the planes again?) to the plane and they finally waved us through. That was 15 minutes of my life I will never get back.
The bus drops you off at the beginning of the International Terminal (gate A) even though gate D (CX) is another 500 meters or so. I guess a second stop is too much trouble. Richard needed 9W so he went straight in to check in whilst I proceeded to gate D. I told him to come find me in the Clipper Lounge.
My third nemesis proved to be the hardest one. I had not realized that if you travel at 04:05 AM they simply will not let you in the terminal the night before. At least, they don't want to. When I showed my itinerary to the guard he shouted at me to go away and come back tomorrow and started to physically push me away. I could see that the Dubai flight was closing so I pushed back and started to confuse him by showing him my business visa, telling him I needed to change flights and that I had a meeting in the lounge. This proved too much information and he then (literally) pushed me into the terminal. Henk 3, India 0!
I made it to the CX desk and was refused a boarding pass since security would not let me throug anyways. What? CX nemesis number 4? That was unexpected. Luckily they have kiosks at BOM so I printed my own boarding pass. Meanwhile the local CX manager (excellent chap!) got involved and sent one of his staff to try and persuade security to let me through. He came back after about 15 minutes to tell me there was "no way you will pass security before midnight, since the flight is not yet in their system (yada, yada, yada)". It was Henk 4, India 0 and I was almost cocky about my chances. I tried to bet them that I would make it through. They laughed and told me I was happy to try.
I was ready for what I felt would be my most difficullt nemesis: customs! I had my story ready (business meeting in the lounge) but was secretely affraid it would turn out to be a long wait landside. So close but yet so far. When I walked up to the desk I expected anything but what really happened: nothing. They just let me through. No problem whatsoever. Ah well... Henk 5, India 0. Final score. Security took some revenge by taking forever but at least I was going to relax in a lounge!
It turned out that RIchard had beat me to it because when I told the attendant that if he came by he was to page me he told me that he had already come in. He showed up again while I was being 'checked in' to the lounge (a long and very laborious process during which 4 people asked me for my name) and I was able to guest him in. The
Clipper lounge is actually a good place to relax!
Very comfy loungers!
A lot of airlines use the lounge, as you can deduct from this display.
Richard was an entertaining guest and we chatted quite a bit. The food at this lounge was very nice. Good quality although a limited selection.
Around 11:00 PM my guest left and by this time the lounge was getting rather busy.
I still had a while to go so I decided on a walk. The terminal itself is very spartan. Not too many shops but some good eateries.
Part of BOM busy night schedule.
The BA Galleries Lounge. Did not look like anything special so I did not bother going in. It only opens 3,5 hours before the BA flight, whilst the Clipper lounge is 24/7.
At 03:30 I made my way to the gate to discover that our flight was delayed by 20 minutes (IST). Back to the lounge it was, but all the loungers where now taken. After a short wait I returned to the gate to find that everything was still in chaos.
Finally, around 04:40 they started boarding. A good hour later than planned. I was first in line but of course India would strike back, albeit weakly. Since I had used the kiosk nobody had looked at my passport and that now had to be done extensively. 5 minutes. It is probably because it is such a pretty picture in there.
My seat: 20K
I had decided to hate the seat and it is very cramped. You can't really move your arms and to look outside you need a chiropractor with a mean streak. I had some time to make myself comfortable and get used to the seat since our captain was Mr. "5 more minutes, folks!". First of all he announced that we lost our slot and that this was the busiest time for departures in BOM. However, he expected to leave in 5 minutes. That gave me some time to make some cabin pictures.
The amenity kit
It was a long wait...
15 minutes later he came back on to announce that we had a medical emergency (not too uncommon in India I have found, maybe linked to the disproportional number of wheelchairs?) and that would take about 5 minutes. 15 minutes later he told us that the passenger was being offloaded and they were searching for the bags which would take... (you guessed it!) He was almost right. We pushed back around 05:25 and by now I was extremely tired. It is only a 4h20m flight and I could only hope the seats were good to sleep in.
Taxi to the runway
Cabin in night mode
It turned out that the seat is indeed quite comfortable for sleeping in. It can also be that I was so tired that I would have slept on a bed of nails. Knowing I was going to skip the meal I took a picture of the menu for you.
And that is all he wrote until about 40 minutes out. I woke up still groggy and tired but ready to face another day. The crew was preparing the cabin for landing and did so efficiently.
I always like the approach to HKG. Such a shame I never got to do the old airport though...
I could barely stand up straight but I sailed through customs and went to the airport express train to take me to Kowloon where I was to spend the night at the InterContinental. Although I had shopping planned I really just walked around a bit before falling asleep early. A good thing too since the next day they had a marathon and that meant either a very long and difficult trip to the airport or getting up to leave at 05:00 before they close off the streets.
You can read about part three here: The CX Upper Deck Experience: HKG-DPS In J (by henkybaby Mar 2 2010 in Trip Reports)
As always: feedback is very much appreciated if only to discover people actually read this stuff...
[Edited 2010-03-02 03:55:41]
[Edited 2010-03-02 04:17:41]