A Tale of Three Conferences (Part 2)

Starting Turbulence

My travel to the US began on a wrong note. About 12 hours before departure, I was informed that my flight (Air India’s Mumbai-Newark nonstop) was delayed 15 hours. I figured the delay would probably only increase and by the time I could reach Hilton Head for the Email Insider Summit conference, I would have lost the better part of a day of a two-and-half-day conference.

Waiting to take the delayed flight was not an option. The likelihood of further delays were high. And just sitting at home for another day wondering would be extremely unproductive mentally. At moments like these, my stoic approach to life comes into play. I could have expressed my frustration at the Air India staff and rued my bad luck. That would not have changed the reality. Instead, I calmly went online and checked on the Air India site for seat availability on flights from Delhi. (Air India has multiple direct flights from its Delhi hub to the US – JFK, Washington, Chicago and San Francisco.) I then had my assistant speak to Air India and told them to get me to any destination in the US via Delhi. After a couple hours of anxious wait, I was rebooked via Delhi to JFK. The flight would arrive at the same time as the Newark flight. A couple things likely worked in my favour. I was travelling Business class and because of my 2019 travels, I was on the highest frequent flier status (Maharajah Club). So, I probably got priority in the rebooking process.

When I reached Newark airport around 10 am, I figured that the net cost had been that I had to leave home five hours earlier (to travel to Delhi) and $150 for an Uber ride from JFK to Newark. I was exactly at the place I would have been had I taken the nonstop. So, not a bad eventual outcome. It could have been far worse had I not been rebooked on the alternate flight.

In life, such events happen. They are beyond our control. Getting upset or angry is not the solution. My general approach is that there has to be some good which will come out of it even though I cannot immediately figure out what. So, a calm demeanour and presence of mind is needed, rather than taking one’s anger out at the airline ground staff – they were not the cause of the problem.

As it turned out, this was the only flight delay I experienced. All my domestic flights in the US were on time. My baggage was not lost. And to top it all, the return flight from Newark to Mumbai three weeks later landed 40 minutes ahead of schedule!

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.