Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Delhi to Kathmandu

Our well-earned trip to Nepal began inauspiciously with a trip to the wrong airport in Delhi, followed by Jet Airways not recognizing our already-purchased tickets. There are two airports in Delhi, one domestic and one international, and there is absolutely no transportation between the two besides taxi. Once we made the right airport we had a new challenge. Apparently Jet Airways does not recognize electronic tickets, despite the fact that our record locator, meal preferences and seat numbers were in their computer system, and my AmEx had been charged.

What began as confusion escalated quickly to frustration and then to rage as one issue created another. We thought we understand the unfortunate solution, namely to swipe our card again and issue a subsequent chargeback with American Express to dispute the initial charged for unrecognizable tickets. This would have been easy -- easy, but their credit card machine was not working. In fact, no credit card machine was working in New Delhi International Airport! Despite pounded fists, shouts, and incompetent management loitering nearby, the concept of calling in a credit card was as foreign as our unfortunate situation. Instead, the proffered solution by Jet Airways customer service was to take an armed escort with us to the ATM where we could withdraw sufficient funds (around 3 lakh rupees). We soon find out that, of course, the ATM is not in this building, and while it thankfully recognizes our bank card, it limits withdrawl to barely cover our one-way to Kathmandu. But our one-way ticket to Kathmandu is paid in cash, and the receipt is a mere scribble on paper that does not even bear the company seal. Somebody's pockets were getting deeper along with our situation.

When we arrived in Kathmandu we fought our way through the crowds to the block brick building aside the International terminal that housed airline offices. Though the officials for Jet Airways did not show up for over an hour, when they finally did we were welling with hope that we'd be able to make a return flight to Delhi on Sunday. After smiles and greetings though, the nightmare continued with our Jet friends offering little more than an incoherent printout of matrix numbers and letters supposedly representing our confirmation. We were dubious at best, and offered to pay for tickets. Sure, but again, no credit cards. Ok, no problem, how about cash. Where is the nearest ATM. Oh wait, you will not accept Nepali Rupees? I thought we were in Nepal. Right, we are, but you only want American dollars. But we don't live in America, we live in India. Oh, you won't accept Indian Rupees either because of counterfeit worries... 1...2...3...3...2...1

We eventually bought return tickets at the Kathmandu office on Visa after blowing off steam in Pokhara, hiking under the striking beauty of the Annapurna range, and playing pick-up soccer with Nepali youth. Our business class seats on return to Delhi allowed us to spite Jet with each glass of mediocre Austrailian Merlot, an enjoyable but insufficient counterbalance to the sheer chaos that Jet Airways added to an otherwise wonderful trip to Nepal.


Shane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shane said...

Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego? Or should I say Scott Hartley.

Ha ha ha...great story. I could only imagine how livid you guys must have been during that whole ordeal. Good anger management technique. 1..2..3..3..2..1. Did you punch a Jet Airways stewardess for the hell of it? lol