As usual, we came back to the city from which we were to depart by air, one day early just to be certain there was little or no chance of missing our scheduled flight. We had seen pretty much all we had wanted to see in Amman but I had thought it might be nice to visit the King Abdullah Mosque as it was very close to our hotel, in fact we could see it from our window.
However, when we awoke the next morning, the skies had opened up and it was raining heavily. So heavy in fact, it was running in rivers down the streets. I’m not sure why, but there appeared to be soap bubbles floating on the surface of the water, though I knew for sure it couldn’t be soap. Perhaps the rain was hitting the surface of the street so hard that it was leeching something out of the asphalt itself.
Our flight was in the evening and we didn’t have to be at the airport until after 5:00pm so we asked for a late check out and the hotel was most accommodating. I spent much of the time in the business center working on my journal entry for Petra and catching up on email. We’d had poor internet access in Petra and I was getting further and further behind on uploading photos. Anil was happy to stay in the room and read his book. We do need some down days now and then and it seemed that this year, we were getting more than our share of rain; maybe someone was trying to tell us to take it easy.
When we arrived at the airport, the place was bustling. It was then we learned that an important Islamic holiday was fast approaching and the planes in and out of Jordan were booked solid; overbooked in fact. The Royal Jordanian counter attendant seemed puzzled when he checked our flight confirmation number and then looked at the computer screen. He finally told us that he could check me in, but Anil had already been booked straight through to Delhi when he checked in at Cairo.
Cairo? We hadn’t even been to Egypt, how could he have been given a boarding pass there?
It took a great deal of discussion and investigation before we learned that another passenger named Anil Kapoor had flown from Cairo to Amman, and was booked on our flight along with us to Delhi. I explained that Anil Kapoor is a rather common name in India, but they weren’t convinced. It turned out that someone in reservations had seen the name listed twice, assumed that there had been a duplicate booking, and cancelled Anil’s booking. Because of the holiday and the fact that the flight was overbooked, they were not able to assign a seat to Anil.
We put up a bit of a fuss, but we were not the only two people with a problem that day. There were several others. One man arrived with his wife and four children only to learn that his ‘confirmed’ booking was in fact not confirmed at all and that there weren’t enough seats for them. In all, there were eight people who were about to be stranded. What a mess! The Duty Manager was tearing his hair out dealing with all the irate passengers, and that was only our flight, there were other problems with other flights as well. He informed me that the flight was beginning to board and I had to make a decision, go alone or give up my seat and go the following day. There was no way I was leaving Anil alone in Jordan, or staying behind myself so I forfeited the seat. Flying business class was not an option either as it was fully booked.
In the end, the man with the family was able to travel because of my decision. I kept thinking about what his wife must have gone through to get her family ready for an overseas flight for the holidays, only to learn that they might not be able to go. I did feel very badly for two labourers from India who had been working in Jordan, they were left behind and this was probably their only ten-day holiday in the past year when they could go home to see their families. It was clear to me that they were ‘low men on the totem pole’ and that they weren’t being given the consideration that Jordanian travellers or foreign tourists received.
Just when it looked like we would have to head back to our hotel and try to fly the following day, the Duty Manager came running and told us to hurry to immigration and security. They had managed to find us seats on a flight to Abu Dhabi and then the last two seats on an Air India flight from there to Delhi. We thanked him for not letting us down and told him we’d never want his job. He smiled wistfully and wished us a safe flight. We ran to the gate and crossed our fingers that our bags would make it on the aircraft as well. What a nightmare! I was so happy to be on our way, I knew the flights for the next several days would be overbooked as well, Eid was only two days away.