'I'm now hoping to fly tonight, with the office threatening to organise someone to escort me to the terminal at any sign that I might be dawdling -- because while I'm still here, there's a book launch, an artist's opening, and a party to attend, all of which I'll drop in on for a while,' says Kishore Singh.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
What do you do when you miss a flight?
You book yourself another one, of course. These days, with multiple options connecting metro cities, there's a departure every few minutes, so the timing issue is hardly a concern.
The problem is the ethics of it.
Long years ago, when Kingfisher was still flying, I had been invited for a symposium, the organisers of which were taking care of all hospitality, and had arranged for business class tickets to and from Mumbai.
When I missed the flight for no fault of mine -- the delay was caused by VIP movement in the airport area -- I was in a conundrum.
If I bought myself a coach ticket, the organisers might think it cheap for expecting to fly in luxury on their behalf, but in cattle class on my own.
On the other hand, should I have sprung for a business class ticket without consideration of reimbursement, but the organisers insisted on paying for it (as they did), penalising them for what was a boo-boo on my part would appear unfair.
Since the organisers had requested delegates to submit their travel documents for audit purposes, there was no escaping such scrutiny.
We've now established a family record of sorts for missing flights.
My wife, scheduled to leave for Hyderabad to attend a morning wedding, thought nothing of the delay in departing for the airport while she fussed over her baubles and clothes.
Instead of returning home, she proceeded to book herself on the next flight, which she missed again because she didn't want to abandon her idli-dosa breakfast at the airport food court.
She then bought a third ticket, arriving straight at the venue for the nuptials in her travel gear, though she did attempt to match her tracks and bomber jacket with appropriate jewellery in deference to the occasion.
Returning after a holiday from the wilderness of Kabini in the south, my wife and I were due to take a flight from Bengaluru for which we were early.
So we did what anyone would agree was a sensible way to occupy our time -- set up a meeting with friends in a cafeteria.
Not unmindful of the time, we checked into the airport with two hours to spare, only to discover the flight we were booked on had left a few hours earlier.
My wife and I still blame each other on who assumed to know the time of the flight.
Something like that happened last night when I was scheduled to leave for New York.
Having twice rescheduled my departure date, I okayed the fresh dates the travel agent forwarded, assuming the flight timing and routing were the same as earlier.
It was a mistake, because while I was still at work, I should have been headed for the airport; when I should have been clearing security, I was pouring myself a drink at home; when the flight took off, I began the process of packing for mine.
By the time I discovered I was not on the flight I didn't even know I was booked on, it was halfway to America.
I'm now hoping to fly tonight, with the office threatening to organise someone to escort me to the terminal at any sign that I might be dawdling -- because while I'm still here, there's a book launch, an artist's opening, and a party to attend, all of which I'll drop in on for a while.
I'll also try very hard not to miss the flight.