Saturday, July 05, 2008

Mumbai, India (BOM) July 2008: Arriving in Abu Dhabi, UAE (AUH) from Mumbai, India (BOM)

05JUN08 Abu Dhabi International

We touched down safely with quite the noise from the engines as we slowed down and pulled off the runway. It seemed like forever until we pulled into the gate. Only less than 24 hours ago, we had departed Dubai.

I gathered my stuff together and bade my seat mate goodbye. It is amazing how people would not allow us to get off the plane. Eventually, I had to just say excuse me and step into the aisle.

Outside, I regrouped with my colleague and we made our way to the Transit counter for Etihad (EY). I spoke to an agent there who checked us in for EY11 to London-Heathrow and advised that the flight was still looking O.K. with a few seats left in two classes. He then said to come back at 1:45a; an hour before departure which is when the flight closes. I did notice that the flight to New York-JFK, EY101 was delayed to 2:45a from 2:05a. That’s good as it is one of our backup, although it may not be so good.

The British airways (BA) flight at 2:10a on 6 July 2008 is our backup, so this cut it close and petty much kills our backup flight chance. The numbers on this flight was similar as well the last time I checked which was a few hours ago. I could not find any BA agents to check for an updated status however.

We made a trip to the restroom while we waited. It is odd to have had to wait to use the toilet. The restroom also doubles as a place to wash your feet before prayers so there was a guy whose job it was to squeegee the floors after usage. I had to wait for him to do so as the one that came free was really wet.

Once done, I rejoined my colleague and we went in search of an electrical outlet and a lounge. We checked with one of the lounges and they will take an American Express card for admittance, but the billing address must be from the Middle East; well that rules us out. Otherwise the charge is 25 USD for admittance chargeable to the card. We departed on that news and continued our search for an outlet. We found one inside one of two caf├ęs and sat down only to find out that it did not work at all. My colleague had a pastry, I looked at flight options, etc., then we left to find a place that was cooler as it felt like we were outside.

Time dragged by really slowly unfortunately, but eventually it was 1:30a and time to check on the EY flight to London-Heathrow. We waited for a few minutes and were told to come back in ten minutes. We did and were unable to talk with anyone for some time. Finally at 2:15a, we spoke to an agent who advised that the flight was full and we did not make it.

Crap, I thought…I asked about the flights to Manchester and JFK, but they were also full and in addition, the flight from Delhi had just landed with sixty passengers who had to be prepared for the flight. I then asked about the flight to Brussels which was leaving at 2:50a and was advised that there were seats available. On checking with the ticketing folks, I was advised that my ticket for Heathrow was not valid for Brussels.

I asked the agent what he can do to assist and he asked for our JFK ticket s. we handed those over and he said, to hang on until they checked in all those people and he will see what gives. I got on my computer again finding a new place to plug in and using the complimentary wireless. I made flight arrangements from JFK to Houston via a flight at 10:50a from New York-La Guardia (LGA) as the next Houston-bound flight from JFK would be at 1:29p and did not look so good. We would figure out how to make our way to LaGuardia depending on our arrival time, which I was estimating to be about 9:30a or so. Flight choices out of Newark, NJ (EWR) were not looking as good. It was ironic that we were possibly heading to the New York area as I’d avoided the flights into that area as I knew the flights loads were not pleasant.

The lines at the counter were dwindling fast as customers were checked in and then rushed off to the gate area for security checks, etc. It was 3:05a when we were called forward and given two Economy class seats after a few upgrades were made between two cabins to accommodate us.

We thanked and followed the agent to the gate where we made it through the security checks and were on the plane in no time; my colleague leaving some of his stuff behind and an agent bringing it to him.

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