As you know, I love to travel; I also love to visit large sporting events worldwide. Last event was the Winter Olympic Games 2010 in Vancouver, BC Canada in February. Now it was time for the World Cup Football 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa (JNB).
A lofty goal? Absolutely!
I looked at various routings and of course they were all very full. Alas, I found one that worked. If I could get to Mumbai, India (BOM) I could take a Jet Airways (9W) flight to Johannesburg arriving first thing in the morning. This would give me time to get to a game at about 4p and then head back out on a late flight.
I had a few choices to get back:
- Air France (AF) Airbus A380 to Paris, France (CDG) at 7:30p (kind of early, but it is the A380)
- British Airways (BA) has two flight to London-Heathrow (LHR) (three flights including one at 11:30p)
- Virgin Atlantic (VS) to London-Heathrow, England (LHR)
- Delta Air Lines (DL) to Atlanta, GA (ATL) (they had two flights as they had two wingtip flights the day before due to the amount of people going to South Africa from the U.S.)
There were other flights, but they did not leave late enough. So getting back would not be an issue at all, I just had to get there. I was also thrilled about the possibility of taking the Airbus A380 back. Let’s see what ends up happening.
The Continental flights to London from Hosuton were full, so I decided to try the British Airways (BA) to London. After a tense wait I was given a seat in World Traveler class. I lucked out as the seat next to me was empty.
British Airways Houston, TX to London 10 June 2010
There was not much to watch on the entertainment system and I soon fell asleep after dinner, but did get up later and got some snacks from the rear galley. Soon after we had breakfast, then about 0:45 later, we landed with minimal delays into London-Heathrow.
I made it to London and connected from Terminal 5 to Terminal 3 for the Air India flight to Mumbai. As it turns out, we were delayed leaving London due to ATC and the fact that the inbound aircraft was a tad late.
Air India 107 London to Mumbai 11 June 2010
Once we were airborne, it was a brilliantly long flight. Good food; audio/video on demand and good service.
It was 12:59a when we touched down and 1:14a when I made it to the gate. This will be close.
In Mumbai, India
As soon as I was able to get off the airplane I did. I started to make a bee line for the Transfer Desk if there was one. I did find an area with a very long line. Many flights, all delayed had arrived at the same time so it was a zoo. I saw a security officer and asked him for the Jet Airways Transfer counter. He looked around and saw a Jet Airways agent coming and motioned her over.
I told her my predicament mentioning the delay in Heathrow as wella s the landing delay as well. She says the flight is closed, but that she would call to see what can be done. There was some talk in Hindi on the phone and although it was in a different language, I knew it was no.
Once she got off the phone, she told me that her supervisor said no. I took the next five minutes or so asking to speak to the supervisor myself, but she said no as if there was anything the supervisor could do she would have. Dejected, I thanked her and walked away.
I had missed my only long shot chance to see a game at the World Cup 2010.
I entered the country and then talked my way into the departure lounge by showing my tickets. I was bent on leaving right away back to Europe. I checked with British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France, Jet Airways and Air India and as all their flights were within 30 minutes of departure I was either told the flight was full or closed even after explaining my predicament. They all suggested I come back later tonight. Good grief I thought, is there no compassion left in the world.
I went and found a seat near to an electrical outlet so that I could at least charge my appliances and work on my computer until the sun came up. Spending the night in the Mumbai airport is interesting. They do have flights to the Middle East that keeps the airport going, but they subside about 4a and then there is one around 7:30a so people keep coming and waiting for their flights. The airport workers comes inside and sleep on the chairs, so that is fun to watch.
Once the sun came up I went outside looking for a cab to take me into the city for breakfast. It was loud, hot, sticky and smoky from the exhaust of the cars. Yup, that’s the Mumbai I remembered. I watched people for a bit and also walked around the airport quite a bit. I did not see any taxi drivers whom I thought I’d trust to just drive me to get food and back.
I eventually made my way back to the departure level. This airport is quite dirty and complicated. It needs a makeover and soon. Actually they did complete some renovation of the arrivals hall. But the Departure area is a dump. You can’t get inside unless you have a ticket and you can only get in if your flight departs within 3 hours. So outside is a mess of people, airport carts and vehicles which includes buses with bad exhausts.
I had noticed earlier that there was a Kingfisher flight to London about an hour before a British Airways flight. Not having flown Kingfisher, I figured this would be a good chance to do so. I might as well get some satisfaction out of this failed objective trip, I thought. It leaves at 12:20p so I’ll come back at about 9:20a so I can get it all worked out I thought.
As I waited to get back inside; a taxi pulled up and a two guys came out. I started talking to the passenger guy and as it turns out he owns the cab and has contacts with local hotels. We chatted for a while and he offered to take me into the city. I told him it was to late to do so as I feared I’d get stuck in traffic and miss my flight. of course he told me there was no traffic and that the hotel and food place was just a short distance. Having been to Mumbai before and seen the traffic I knew that there was no way I’d be back in time. We continued talking and as it turns out, he is just two weeks younger than I am; coincidence?
As my entry time arrived i showed my documents and was rejected entry as my ticket said “OPEN” I tried to explain to the security guard the deal, but he would have none of it. He sent me away so I went to another entry and the guard there was fine with my documents.
I went to Kingfisher and checked in, but my ticket was on British Airways so they had to endorse it to Kingfisher. This simple transaction took almost two hour to accomplish. Between that and the security line I made it to the gate five minutes before departure!
I barely had enough time to list myself on the 6:30p flight from London to Newark on Continental. I’ll have to check-in when I get to Heathrow I thought. I hope I have enough time. Otherwise, I’ll just spend the night in London and head back the next day.
Kingfisher 107 Mumbai to London
We then started our taxi out to the runway and in no time were airborne in this Airbus A330. The service started with an appetizer plus drinks and then the main meal. Interestingly enough the interior is much like Air India’s. Not sure who is copying whom. I started to watch some Bollywood movie after dinner actually finishing up the one I was watching on the flight down. Then another one that seems to last forever.
Finally we started our descent into London landing at about 5:05p. As soon as I touched down, I got online and checked in for my flight to Newark. Now I don’t have to worry about getting there before 5:30p.
As we were in the Terminal 4, it was easy to switch to Continental. Well, so I thought. The airport security folks only had one area open and the line was pretty long. So it did take some time to get to the gate. No worries as I was already checked in.
Eventually, I made it to the gate in time for boarding.
Continental 19 London to Newark, NJ
We pushed back ontime at 6:30p and headed for the runway. Takeoff was quick as there are not many planes leaving at that time of the night.
This airplane has audio/video on demand which was really cool. We started with some pretzels and then a choice of chicken or beef. I had the beef. I was really tired so I went to sleep right after. I awoke later and had an arrival snack just before landing in Newark.
After clearing security, I found a hotel as I really needed to take a nap in a real bed. Thursday was the last time I do so and today was Saturday. It was a great trip despite not making it to South Africa for the World Cup 2010.
Did anyone else make it to the World Cup 2010?
Enjoy the pictures.