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My aging and Winter Schedule of Airlines

                                                          My aging and Winter Schedule of Airlines

Shyamal Banerjee

Every year the summer and winter schedule of airlines are declared. It is a formality that all airlines follow. When December comes, the nightmare time of airlines starts. Passengers remain at the receiving end. Abnormal delay in departure and arrival and cancellation of flights totally depend on nature. No body can predict when fog will appear and the visibility becomes poor. Even after upgrading, ILS (Instrumented Landing System) remains not upto the mark for civilian aircraft operations. 

        It was during one of the delayed flights in December; I realised that I have become old (I still consider it as pre mature address by a beautiful lady to embarrass me in public for no fault of mine). 

I landed at Mumbai by morning flight from Bangalore to catch a connecting flight to Ahmedabad. I was supposed to attend a meeting the same day. I was to proceed to my next destination the next day. When I approached the check-in counter of the airlines at Mumbai airport, I was advised to wait as the flight was abnormally delayed due to heavy winter fog. I waited for more than one hour and no message appeared on the information screen about the possibility of the flight taking off before evening. Out of frustration, I considered it prudent to cancel my programme at Ahmedabad and proceed to next destination. The airlines staff at the check-in counter advised me to proceed to the ground floor for alteration in the travel plan. Finally, I reached the ‘airport-booking counter’ of the airline. There were a few more unfortunate persons like me to cancel / alter their travel plan. My turn came. The airport staff after going through my ticket, informed that, the flight to Ahmedabad was ready for departure and I would not be eligible for refund on that ticket as the delay was within the permissible time limit. I hurriedly told my waiting at check-in counter and as per their advice I had come there. Without waiting he advised the stuff at the departure lounge to keep one boarding pass ready for one passenger with confirmed ticket. I thanked the airlines stuff and started going to the departure lounge with a  fast pace, By that time I found my name being announced in the public address system and with an advice to approach any airlines stuff, whom I could locate without delay. I found one lady stuff member with a walkie-talkie in her hand. She guessed correctly that I was the passenger, for whom the announcement was repeated. My fast walk came to halt when she tried to reproach me by telling, “Uncle, you are delaying the flight”. So far I have been accustomed to the address “Uncle” from little toddlers. My children were still in school. Honestly this was the first time I was addressed by a grown up as ‘uncle’. Apart from my conscience, my limbs reacted violently. My gripping power was lost and the briefcase dropped from my hand. She took it up and asked me if I needed a wheel chair. She asked one of the airline staff to bring a wheel chair. To my surprise, she pushed the wheelchair and took me directly to the security gate. I removed the warm overall coat for security check. By that time I recovered from the psychological shock and climbed the steps with the briefcase in my hand without any problem. She was a little surprised and addressed me “Hello Mister” and asked why I made her push the wheelchair, if I was not unwell. I replied, “I became unwell momentarily. Moreover, you get blessings, when you serve your uncle”.  The last and final call blared in the public address system and I ran towards the airlines jeep, which took me to the aircraft parked at a distance from the departure hall.

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