Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Plans of Mice and Men

You know the old saying about the best-laid plans of mice and men. How things are known to go awry no matter how hard you labor over them? This just happened to me.

I am a seasoned traveler, no stranger to the road, but I had to scramble to make a new flight plan. The details are mundane; it was a perfect storm of a missed phone call, middle of the night departure time, heavy traffic to the airport ... you get the picture.

I was sad to miss the South Africa leg of my round the world trip on Star Alliance carriers, but heading there following the missed connection would have given me just one night in Cape Town. Too far to go for so short a time. So, I was unable to fly the blameless and well-recommended South Africa Airlines. I took a deep breath and re-learned the most important lesson for a traveler: flexibility.

I don't know about you, but when things go wrong, I prefer to speak to a live human, or failing that, start pinging e-mails to live humans. I found booking my RTW ticket online relatively easy, and I know the Internet is our friend, but I relied on the helpful folks at Star to help me get another flight the next day, this one to Cairo; they came through beautifully. Egyptair, which I was going to fly a few days later in any case, stepped into the breach for the ride from Mumbai.
(FYI, see my Oct. 27 post "Booking a Round the World Trip with Star Alliance.'')

Actually, Egyptair brought me on my first ever visit to Cairo, last summer, and there was a Star Alliance connection then, too. Egyptair was joining Star as a new member, and hundreds of airline employees and aviation pros jammed into a massive, air-conditioned tent at Cairo International Airport for the admission ceremony. The joy of the airline employees assembled there was genuine. They weren't blase, they were happy to be recognized as an international standard carrier.

The recognition was well-earned. I had an event-free flight to Cairo - the way I like them - a good lunch of spicy beef and rice and settled in for a good read on the 6-hour journey. I'll be flying Egyptair again on the next leg of my trip a few days hence.

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