My first visit to the country was assured by the fact that I was being accompanied by two friends/colleagues who had been there before. So i did not spend much time online researching travel options, accommodation, what to do once I get there etc.
Yatra.com has been my reliable confidante when it comes to booking flight and accommodation online.
I booked the Singapore Airlines – SilkAir the regional wing of it. The flight was from Cochin to Hong Kong with a transit through Singapore for an hour. I joined the Krish Flyer program and decided to mobile check in and opted for my meals and seats of my liking.
While arriving at the airport what unfolded was the most bizarre set of sequences, few of them expected callousness. While I tried to queue up onto the Business/Internet baggage drop counter, I was told that online check in does not offer me any privelege other than meals and seats, so I was forced to queue up in the routine non online checked in queue. I waited with patience, even though frustrated, as being a frequent traveler, I have seen worse. Once I got to the queue, I was told the seat that I had opted for through online check – in was CHANGED due to high priority, overriding my selection to some other person from the Cochin office. When I asked for an explaination, they said they are in no position to divulge the reason. I was absolutely flustered by their response.
Once I reached the boarding gate, I readdressed the issue with the ground staff and one fellow was kind enough to FINALLY see me as I boarded the flight. He apologized for the seat change (apparently pretty much the only option I had to choose from was taken away) and said it is AIRLINES POLICY to override customer seat selections if the need arises, which in this case was apparently a disabled person. What was even more ironic was this Disabled person was the first to jump off his seat as the flight landed – a typical Indian jumping out of his seat as soon as the flight touched down. I have been traveling for a long time, most of it as a kid, and for a good share in the last 12 years and this is the worst experience I have ever had.
To add salt to the wounds, when we landed at the Hong Kong airport, our baggages did not accompany us. We waited for another hour for another flight to come to receive our baggage. The lock of my bag was broken however nothing was lost!!
The response to an official complaint is awaited. The return flight was delayed by 40 min, thanks to poor weather conditions in Singapore and unfortunately that just compounded my distaste.
ICICI bank offers a platinum travel card with 15 different international currencies. Being a faithful ICICI bank customer, I visited the bank to purchase one as I needed Hong Kong dollars for my travel. The response of the Forex manager was, and I quote “Sorry sir, we do not provide Hong Kong dollars because of possible fraudulent activity”. If a person genuinely comes to purchase currency to use for personal purpose while traveling to another country, is the risk of fraudulence a bigger concern for ICICI that it would rather not implement what they offer? Pathetic indeed.
As I continue to embark on more journeys I realize how pessimistic Indians are when they chose the ‘safe’ confines of the word ‘sorry’ and move on with their lives!