Wednesday, July 04, 2007

J's travel woes

The phone rang a little while back ... J was stuck at Bombay airport. Apparently, some wise-a** check-in counter person at Kingfisher airlines demanded to see a copy of the credit card used for the purchase of her ticket to Kochi. The person from the travel agency who was with her got on the horn and a flurry of calls were made, and, apparently, they got a hold of the person who actually made her reservation, and she got her boarding pass.

And, to pour salt on the wound, another foreign person, seemingly also with a travel agency, checked in just behind J and got his boarding pass in a jiff.

I also took the opportunity to let the travel agency person have a piece of my mind. I wish I could have talked with the check-in lady! Now I need to figure out who I know who knows someone in Kingfisher, so a proper complaint (i.e. one that is actually heard) can be made.

Yes, there is this rather ludicrous policy that airlines in India have, that if an online purchase is made by a non-traveler, a photocopy of the credit card used might be needed for verification at the time of check-in. This is in order to prevent credit card fraud (which is reaching abominable proportions in India. So much so that, since the beginning of 2007, any credit card issued by a non-Indian bank cannot be used for online transactions). Now, I've traveled a lot in India, and almost every time, I used my dad's credit card for purchases. I was never asked a question. The travel agent dude also said that in his years of worki, he'd never come across a case like this. Who knows why J got picked on. But, like so much other regulation in India, it's simply an opportunity for harassment. (If it weren't the airport -- where such things just aren't done -- I'd have suggested slipping a Rs. 100 note to the recalcitrant official.)

Kingfisher, way to go. Nice way to treat tourists in India. Perhaps we should create an Incredible India poster around this experience?

(Hey, rental agencies in the US have similar policies. Read the fine print on any rental reservation or contract. It says that renters may be required to show not just proof of proper insurance, but a driving record. 'Cause, you know, we carry a copy of these with us all the time.)


Dogwood Dell said...

St. Gashwin - Protector of Travelers to India.

Maybe we need to improve the title.

Georgette said...

Hey, G!

I just got back (to India) from our long (and wonderful) trip to North Carolina (and N.O. and DC). I was not aware of this (yet another) goofy rule of the Indian bureaucracy! I am pretty sure that we have purchased domestic flight tickets online using an American credit card; now I am thankful that we never had the misfortune that your friend J experienced! Sheesh! I wish I could say I cannot believe this, but ufnortunately it is all too believable. And your suggestion to offer baaksheesh(spelling?) may in fact be the answer, and what that bureaucrat was after. Back when we had to fly to India through Mumbai, (when we first moved here) it was all but expected that the airport officers who were checking our bags at customs wanted a "tip" of 100 rupees from passengers, or risk having them keep our bags.

Thanks for this heads-up on this new situation. Now we will be sure to book all tickets carefully. I wish your friend J a wonderful and enchanting trip through India, all the same!

God bless you!


Gashwin said...

Hiya Georgette! Glad you had safe travels back ... you're absolutely right about baksheesh -- it used to be (and in some cases I'm sure still is. The level of regulation, and consequently, of harrassment has gone down considerably since liberalization. In Bombay they still X-ray all incoming bags. In Delhi they don't!) de rigeur at Customs. However, on a domestic flight, at check-in or otherwise, my intuition says it would just not be seemly.

Hopefully Hyedrabad has had rains and it's cooled down. I wish we'd coordinated at bit, I could have visited you in NC! Maybe on your next trip to the US (by which time I will, God willing, be back in DC).

georgette said...

Oh, that would have been great to have hooked up somewhere in the Carolinas! Maybe next time, for sure. I wish I had had time to cruise the blogs when we were there, and surely I'd have thought of it if I had, but I think I only checked my email twice!

The rains did start here in Hyderabad, thankfully, so it is pretty pleasant right now. I hope you are having great weather where you are (still in SC?) and enjoying your lazy crazy hazy days of summer!