09 Oct 2011

Flight to Bangalore

This week HP sent me to Bangalore, India. That meant flying from Salt Lake to New York (JFK), to Paris, to Bangalore. All in all, around 22 hours in the air. Here is info on my flight

Salt Lake City to New York City JFK.

The person sat to my left was straight out of A Beautiful Mind. She had about 10 different newspapers, and she was highlighting words all over the place, drawing lines connecting letters, and copying down complete sentences while she studied for patterns. Then she started doing the same thing with a novel that she had (about Churchill during WWII). Talk about Crazy. Then she pulled out her white iPhone 4 and started sending an email (I know this because she was giving everyone around her a running commentary. She really thought she was a super spy, and for all I know, she probably thought she was emailing the president.). I glanced at her phone and she had 2500 unread emails. (Yep she’s one of those). It was really painful trying to watch her type on the iPhone’s on-screen keyboard. She took about 4 seconds per letter.

Then I had a different guy on the right. He was one of those back packers. The kind that thinks he can tour the world with only the contents in his pack. So, he asked me where I was going, but it was obvious that the only reason he was asking was so that I would politely ask him the same question. His eyes lit up when I did. He told me he was travelling to New York to do race commentary. He explained that he was going to a mud race where he would hold a microphone and shout out commentary.

New York City (JFK) to Paris (Charles de Gaulle). We get on the flight, but the pilot announces that there’s a mechanical malfunction with the plane. We sit and wait on the tarmac while the mechanics come over and investigate. Since we’re stuck with no departure ETA, the old woman next to me decides to stand up and start doing yoga. She would deliberately do the more extravagant moves when she thought people were looking. I’m certain she wanted me to ask about it, but I ignored her. Unfortunately, the other woman (Woman B) on our row decided to to ask. Great! Now the whole row got a long speech about her super cool meditation techniques, and how easy to learn it was.

Unfortunately for all of us, woman B asked the worst followup question imaginable “Can you teach me?”" Just what I needed. Yoga woman’s eyes lit up. Fortunately/unfortunately, the pilot saved me by announcing that the issue required a part to be replaced and, not having it in stock, we’d all have to get off. The flight ended up being cancelled. Delta then gave us coupons for a Taxi and a Hotel (Hampton Inn) until the next day. Hey, there are worse places to be stuck for 24 hours than New York, right?

We walked to where you get a taxi and got it. He took us to the hotel and then refused to take the taxi coupon that Delta had given us. Brilliant. Luckily NY taxis now take credit cards. We arrived at the hotel and quickly got to our rooms. I turn on my laptop and try to connect to the internet. Their security page says that wifi is free for guests, and I just have to put my last name and room number to get online. It doesn’t work. I try to call the front desk, but the phone in my hotel doesn’t seem to work. I call the front desk from my mobile phone, and the woman says “It’s your fault, you must be entering the information in wrong” I politely tell her that I know how to spell my own name, and I’m pretty sure I typed 102 (my room number) in correctly. She then reads back how my name is in the system. W-I-L-L-I-A-S-M-S. Seriously, who can’t spell my last name. It’s extremely common. Finally, she fixes is, and I get online. The next day we took a cab into the city and walked around. I ate swordfish at Union Square Cafe, which I highly recommend, looked around, and headed to the airport.

New York City (JFK) to Paris (Charles de Gaulle) 2nd attempt.

We arrive at the airport, and try to print the boarding pass. It gives an error saying that we must see a Delta employee. We do, and find out we’re apparently not scheduled on the flight. It’s obviously caused by the mix up of the cancelled flight. After an hour of arguing, and almost missing the flight, they agree to put us on it just minutes before it’s departure. They also upgrade us from Economy to Economy Comfort. Nice, right? We are the last to board, and take our seats. We were both sat on either side of a triple seat row at the front of the cabin, so we had a lot of space. A few minutes after I’ve sat down, a flight attendant asks me to return to my original seat. She basically thought I’d switched seats and given myself a free upgrade. After I finally understood what she was accusing me of, I showed my boarding pass and she left me alone. Two minutes later a guy comes up to the same flight attendant and asks to sit in between me and the other HP employee, as he’s stuck at the back of the plane next to a crying baby. Fortunately, the flight attendant was not the patient type, and blew him off.

Paris (Charles de Gaulle) to Bangalore, India

After a fairly uneventful flight, we arrive in Bangalore to find that Air France had lost our luggage.

We were given 100€ to buy new clothes. Being the genius that I am, I had no extra clothes aside from what I was already wearing. Luckily, we soon arrived that the hotel (at 2:30AM), where they provided me with some spare clothes and offered a laundry service. As luck would have it, our luggage was found and delivered to us on the last day of our trip.

The rest of the trip went well. I spent some of the time at the Bangalore HP office, and the last day touring the city (as it was festival day). Great food! Even though India is 11.5 hours ahead of Utah, the jet lag actually wasn’t that bad.