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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Leaving New Delhi

I’m sitting in the Oberi Clipper Lounge here at the Ghandi International Airport here in New Delhi, India. A benefit of my Star Alliance Gold status with United Airlines, Lufthansa gave me entrance to this, yes clap you hands now, a non-smoking lounge. What an unexpected relief.

On my previous visit here to New Delhi, there was a different lounge (currently called the Port Lounge) that was unbearable if you do not like smoke. And, I do not like smoke. I was mainly expecting to spend the time waiting in the main boarding area given with the extra time before the wonderful 2:25am departure for Frankfurt.

I ended up getting to the airport in record time, but for a few minutes I did not know if I would even make it here tonight. After confirming the 10:00pm pick-up time (allowing 1-2 hours for possibly bad traffic) with the driver after our trip to the Taj Mahal, I mentioned I would re-confirm at 9:30pm given the experience the previous night with no driver.

So, Jonathan and I spent the day relaxing around the Hilton Trident Gurgaon – 9:30pm rolled around. I called the mobile number of the driver, no answer and no voice mail. Called the bell desk and asked if the driver had checked in – no luck there either. 10:00pm rolls around and the same things happens. No driver, no car. Now I am getting a little worried – how am I going to get to the airport since there are not a line of taxis outside and the hotel does not provide transportation to the airport. Then, I call the driver’s company to see if they can track anything down.

15 nervous minutes pass and then both the hotel and the driver’s company call to say the driver is now there. Apparently his cell phone was just on silent and he did not get the calls. Whew, a relief. In the end it did not matter one bit, there was no traffic to the airport – it only took 15 minutes, and the lines were relatively short to clear immigration to get to the lounge – with an extra 3 hours to spare.

The only bad note about the lounge is that the wireless Internet access if jacked up. Basically, I tried to purchase and hours worth at rs.42 (about $1 USD), but the registration died before I could even get to the payment page. Perhaps that is better anyways. Unfortunately it means that this posting may get a little delayed, perhaps until tomorrow in Germany?