The Mad Dash to Kathmandu

“Jay, wake up! It’s 8:00!”

“What, huh, what does that mean?”

“Wake up! It means our flight leaves in 55 minutes!”

I immediately reached for my phone to double-check the hour. After all, we have been having difficulties keeping time, the iPhone getting mixed up among time zones. The time was correct.

“How did this happen? We set two alarms,” I said. Both for 5:30 am. Mine never rang and Erin’s we somehow didn’t hear. Our flight was in less than an hour, the airport was 50 minutes away, and now we were leaving during Bangkok rush hour.

“We have to go for it,” Erin hurriedly said, stuffing things into her backpack. “Maybe they can get us on the next flight?”

We finished packing the last little stuff: drying underwear, dop kits, rainjackets, everything in 5 minutes and were out the door. Once downstairs, Erin dropped a coin for the Internet and sent a quick email to our liaison in
Kathmandu who would be picking us up at the airport, while I grabbed us a quick breakfast to-go and hailed a cab. Our teamwork in moments of chaos is flawless; we just know what the other is in charge of and we execute. For example, Erin always checks under the bed, I spout off the “do you have?” list.

In the cab, reality set in. It was now 8:15. We were on Air India, and if past performance predicts future behavior, not only were we not getting on this or the next flight, we also weren’t getting any credit for the $600 we spent.

“We’re screwed,” I dejectedly state. We passed a car on the left hand side of the highway with its blinkers on and I got an idea.

“Let’s get our story straight. We tell them our cab broke down, we were lost in translation, and we were stranded on the side of the road. Think they’ll buy it?”

“I don’t know, but it’s worth a shot.”

“If it comes down to it, think you can cry? Maybe that will help?” I asked.

Somehow I imagined we’d be at the ticket counter, dealing with the stereo-typical, horny traffic cop type. Of course the teary-eyed, busty blonde will get what she wants!

“I don’t know if I can cry on demand.”

“Even if we don’t make it and lose another six hundred bucks to Air India?”

Just saying it made me want to cry. After all, we had spent less than $600 in the last two weeks of travel!

Our taxi driver, sensing our urgency, drove like Mario Andretti hopped up on speed. At 9:05, we arrive at the airport and frantically start reading the boards, simultaneously looking for Air India signs. The airport was packed and chaotic.

“Kathmandu, Kathmandu, Kathmandu,” Erin is nervously saying as we scour the board. “Kathmandu! But wait, that’s Thai Airways!”

I snap back, “Layover in Delhi! D! Where are the D’s? Why don’t they put this in alphabetical order!?” I’m frustrated and well underfed. Not a good combo.

Time is wasting away. It’s now 9:15. “New Delhi! Air India! DELAYED!” I shout. “Air India, Air India, we need to get to Air India!”

Now we’re moving. There’s a chance we can make it! “I can’t believe it Schneidy!” Scouring the signs for white and red, white and red. We pass D, E, F, and G check-in areas, but no Air India, H, I, J through T, no Air India.

“Leave it to Air India to not even have a sign,” Erin says, still reeling from our first experience with them and maybe a tiny bit sore at the $400 they essentially robbed us.

Sure enough, on the backside of the last row, good ‘ol row W, Air India was found. But there’s no signs above the counters. Why would there be when you’re late for a flight? Running down the aisle, counters on the left, asking each person, “Air India, Air India?” until finally, a small woman answered “Yes.”

It’s 9:23. “Hi, we’re on the 8:55 to Delhi.” It sounds funny to even say that.

The woman is not impressed and is shaking her head no.

“The flight is already boarded,” she declares. Her negative tone is not reassuring.

We each give her the saddest, but-we’re-the-victim eyes possible.

“We don’t have any bags to check,” I add, thinking it worked once, let’s try it again.

“No liquids?” she asks.

“Everything is under 100ml,” I quickly state, our minds already well-heeled in all things metric.

Things start happening. She asks for our passports. Her assistant is on the phone.

“It will depend on the captain,” she tells us.

“Tell him ‘no checked bags!'” we bark in unison.

The assistant hangs up the phone and starts filling out two pieces of paper, each the size of a boarding ticket, behind the counter. We can’t really see and aren’t getting any indication from either of them whether this is happening or not. Minutes pass, each one more painful than the last. Finally, she gives us our boarding passes, tells us “G1” for the gate and the assistant hands us the cards, which are express passes allowing us to go through first-class security check. No lines, baby!

With appreciative smiles we each say our version of Kap coon Krap, thank you, and are off for the races.

Security was a breeze, and I got through passport check first, instantly made eyes with Erin, and she knew I was on a sprint to stop that plane. Huffing and puffing, I arrived to three security personnel who waited, knowing we were on our way, and they asked to search my bags. Erin slid up in her flip-flops a minute later, fresh as a daisy, though she’d tell you otherwise, and I told her, “passport and they need to search your bags.”

Bags searched and on, they weighed us, and pointed us downstairs. And wouldn’t you know, the plane hadn’t boarded yet, and hundreds of people were sitting and waiting, tapping their toes. We joined them, breathless, and Erin hopped on one of the Internet terminals to alert Kathmandu we would, in fact, be there on time. Shortly after, we calmly boarded into the best seats, not together but in the front row. Looking across the aisle at each other, we smiled, both realizing that we should’ve known we’d make it. We always make it.

“Well, at least we got an extra two and a half hours of sleep,” I said, “but I hope there’s a meal on this flight, I’m hungry.”

And of course, there was. Pretty darn good too.


5 thoughts on “The Mad Dash to Kathmandu

  1. Danae (haybarn!)

    Omg I must admit I’m a horrible friend for not checking PBnomads out more often, but thanks to Erin’s email signature I was reminded to visit and I’m so glad I did.

    Such a funny story, your guys’ writing is amazing, I re-lived every moment of your experience while reading (maybe it helped that I’ve also experienced flying with Air India- never again- and being stuck in traffic borderline to miss the flight while in Kenya, just to make it n the nick of time with a handwritten boarding pass and a ‘phonecall’ to the captain lol). Anyway, I hope your travel experience continues to be as exciting & adventurous as it has been so far. Cant wait to hear all about it when i see you soon!!!!! xoxo

    PS. Jay I loved the “fresh a daisy” bit, too cute 🙂

  2. hahahahaha!!! I love it! What a great story! I just had one too… a madcap dash from bombay international airport to bombay domestic airport just a couple days ago on an air india flight as well… where they didn’t give me a baggage tag and i was so sweaty and flustered I didn’t even think about it… so I’ve been without baggage in japan for 3 days now, and finally they’ve found the bag and it should arrive in osaka tomorrow… Air India, NEVER AGAIN! (until the next random budget trip, I suppose…)

  3. POP "E"

    O.J’s commercial is history. Maybe it’s time to make a new one. Glad you guys made it. Wait, I already know that, don’t I?????. As always, be SAFE. Love POP “E”

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