a seeker in search of Easter Eggs

29 Hours in New Delhi Airport July 9-10, 2018

29 Hours in New Delhi Airport

Location: Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi (city), India

Bases Covered
I've covered my bases for my departure to Thailand - booked my bus ticket, booked my flight with Spice Jet and booked my hotel in Bangkok. The trip from McLeod Ganj was painless. I took the overnight bus (INR 1000) at 7pm and arrived New Delhi 6:30am. This saved me one night's lodging. I was at the New Delhi Airport at 7am but my flight was still 7pm - a 12-hour wait. I didn't want to roam around New Delhi with my heavy luggage so I decided to just stay in the airport. Airport authorities made me wait in the Visitors Lounge area because I was too early. It was a small confined section with enough seats and lounge chairs plus a cafe. But I needed an Indian SIM card to get wifi - I didn't have it. Since food is expensive there, I made sure I had lots of healthy food with me - trial mix I made myself (raisins, peanuts, walnuts and almonds), multi-grain bread, ghee mixed with honey. And of course, water. I also downloaded a good number of movies to keep me occupied. Of course, I can also update my blog. The 12-hour wait passed quickly that way. But I wasn't prepared for what would happen next.

Delayed Spice Jet Domestic Flight
My flight from New Delhi had a connecting flight to Kolkata before heading to Bangkok, Thailand. At the domestic airport, I was told by the Spice Jet counter that the flight was 4 hours delayed and that I would miss my connecting flight. In order to save the day, they issued me a new direct flight from Delhi to Bangkok without any further cost to me. I took the shuttle to the international airport to catch that new flight.

Show Me the Card
At the international airport, I arrived at the Spice Jet counter 2 hours before the scheduled 9:50pm direct flight. It should be smooth sailing but they said they wanted to see the credit card I used. I protested. Why should this flight have anything to do with my credit card when it was already paid for and accepted by the card company? The guy I was talking to, Neeraj, insisted. I told them I don't carry my card with me because I only use it for online purchases. This also prevents it from being lost or stolen. But I said I have a picture. Neeraj said the picture will do. I showed them. That should have solved the problem - NOT!

Not the Same Card Number
Neeraj said the card number in their records did not match my card number. I said I booked my flight with Skyscanner through FlightNetwork. Either of these companies probably used their own card to finalize my transaction. They understood, but now wanted to know if I was that same person on my card. What??? Reluctantly, I showed Neeraj the private correspondence I had with Skyscanner and FlightNetwork, even used his sim number to verify that I was the same person in that card. That should have solved the problem - NOT!

29 Hours in New Delhi Airport
feeling helpless with the Spice Jet staff at the check-in counter

Re-Book on the Card
This time, Neeraj wanted me to book my flight using my card! What??? But I already have that flight under my name and it's already in their system! Why should I re-book for that flight? I protested vehemently. I already told him at the onset that I don't have my card with me. I kept telling him that, but still, he kept asking for it.

Pay Cash
Neeraj, in another dumb move, wanted me to rebook my flight using cash instead! It was too much. I didn't have the cash with me and even if I had, it wasn't right.

Every objection Neeraj presented, I addressed satisfactorily, thinking it would solve the problem - he wanted to see my card, I showed him the picture of the card. He wanted to verify my identity, I verified it for him. But he keeps coming up with new objections. I was drawn to conclude this guy didn't know what he was doing - I was arguing with an incompetent. In the meantime, I was running out of time because the plane would be departing soon.

Missing my Flight
It became obvious to me dealing with Neeraj was going to be unproductive. I asked for the top guy in the Spice Jet counter. Mohit (or a similar name) intervened, supposed to be a higher-up. But he didn't do anything to help the situation. He said the same thing. The staff of nearly a dozen started crowding as I was already yelling at them that no one could simply give me the green light to board my plane and let them settle it internally - which is what they should be doing. I asked them all why I should be burdened by their demands when it was their late flight that caused all these problems. It had nothing to do with me and yet I had to carry the burden of proof or burden of payment or whatever else they were asking for! No one made the executive decision to take responsibility. They all stood there stoic as I watched my plane fly without me. When I started taking their pictures, they all looked away. What they finally offered was a refund of my original flight - as of this writing, no reversal of charges have been made.

Thai Airways to the Rescue
Because I lost so much time with all the negotiations that proved pointless, I missed the other flights offered by other carriers. The only flight I could get was Thai Airways for 11:40am the following day - that's another 12 hours away!!! This also meant I had to pay regular price and sleep in the airport.

Ending Thoughts
By the time I boarded my plane, I was already in New Delhi airport for 29 hours. All that delay including the discomfort of sleeping in the airport were needless if the Spice Jet people were only competent enough to have handled my situation professionally. Booking with Spice Jet was a hard lesson learned.

--- TheLoneRider
YOGA by Gigit Yoga by Gigit | Learn English Learn English | Travel like a Nomad Nomad Travel Buddy | Donation Bank Donation Bank for TheLoneRider

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Reader Comments:

Spice JetSpice Jet
(July 22, 2018 [by Customer Relations])
Please note that as per our records, the payment for above PNR was made using foreign issued card. For all foreign (Non-Indian) credit / debit card payments, the card must be produced for physical verification at the airport check-in counter if the passenger is the cardholder. Incase the cardholder is not travelling, it is mandatory for the passenger to furnish to the airport check-in staff a physical copy of the front side of credit / debit card duly authorized by the cardholder, along with cardholder's valid proof of identification. In the absence of such credit / debit card or copy and/or identity mismatch, we will be constrained to refuse the boarding.

As the passenger was not carrying the required documents (i.e. credit card) hence he was not allowed to board the flight. We have already processed full refund of INR xxxxx towards the same card from which the payment was made as the flight was delayed by more than 120 mins. Kindly get in touch with your bank for clarification.

Further, we have reviewed upon your concern however we are not in position to process your request for compensation in this regard.

(July 22, 2018 [escalating the matter to the nodal officer])
I am escalating my grievance to your level. Let me address the contention of the people from Customer Relations as follows:

1. "the payment for above PNR was made using foreign issued card. For all foreign (Non-Indian) credit / debit card payments, the card must be produced for physical verification at the airport check-in counter if the passenger is the cardholder"

Of course it's a foreign-issued credit card! People traveling within India are not all locals. India as a destination is as foreign as it gets. I have been traveling in-and-out of 18 countries using my credit card to pay the airlines online - once my booking is paid for and confirmed, the transaction is secured. I have never been required to present my credit card upon check-in...ever! All I ever have to produce during check-in are my passport and my booking confirmation.

As I stated in my original letter, the "verification at the airport check-in counter if the passenger is the cardholder" has already been done. I used Neeraj's SIM number so that I get the verification from my bank that I am indeed the cardholder. This was done in front of Neeraj. He was privy to the confidential transactions I had with my bank and Skyscanner. This is already too much divulgence to your staff if you think about it. But I did it because Neeraj insisted and I had no choice.

2. "In the absence of such credit / debit card or copy and/or identity mismatch, we will be constrained to refuse the boarding"

Of course there will be a mismatch. Skyscanner was paid using my card. And Skyscanner (or FlightNetwork) used its card to make my booking with you. You received Skyscanner's card and not mine. I already explained that in the first letter. Why do they keep repeating this argument?

If the actual credit card had to be presented to allow boarding (which doesn't even make sense given that the transaction has already been secured), then WHY did Neeraj demand to see the picture of the credit card? Then, WHY did he insist on verifying that I am indeed the card holder? And after satisfactorily complying, he still disallowed my boarding? Was he just stringing me along? Or was he just incompetent and didn't really know what he was doing? His incompetence caused me a great deal of aggravation, caused me to lose precious time to make other bookings and caused me to sleep in the airport. Do you not appreciate what I had to go through because of his incompetence and your ill-conceived policy?

Again, if you refuse to reimburse me for the Thai Airways flight, I will continue to escalate this. What you put me through is a deplorable implementation of a flawed policy.

  1. I will see my lawyer to review if my legal rights have been violated
  2. I will carpet-email all the executives at Spice Jet to let them know how the airline is being run and how customers are being treated
  3. I will write to the complaints section of all relevant aviation departments
  4. I will write to established consumer review agencies
  5. etc.

I hope you give this matter a serious consideration because it will not go away. I only ask your sense of fair play and you know it.

Ramon CabreraRamon Cabrera
(July 23, 2018) So sorry to hear! 29 Hours in an airport in Delhi just because you don't carry your credit card - what could be worse?

Vanja JelacaVanja Jelaca
(July 21, 2018) That's horrible, Gigit. Unfortunately it's not only Spice Jet staff. I had difficulties sometimes with other airlines too. These people are following rules at the expense of common sense and it's frustrating. But so far, being persistent and seeming like I know my rights and would make it difficult for them has solved the situations. I hope you recovered from it :) hug

Grant LawlessGrant Australia
(July 21, 2018) ...never heard of them but will never fly with them now that's for sure. Bunch of loonies.

Jessie Villabona SeverinoJessie Philippines
Iyengar Yoga Teacher
(July 21, 2018) Nightmare!

Gina QuirinoGina Quirino
(July 21, 2018) They sure added spice to your life 🙂 apologies if you think it was a bad joke 🙏

Rachel ConsingRachel Philippines
(July 21, 2018) What a nightmare! That was quite a bump on the road, but you're the unsinkable, indomitable Gigit

Navraj GrewalNavraj India
(July 21, 2018) Thank God, while booking my flights for Bangkok yesterday, I dropped all these low cost airlines in favour of Thai Airways. Good sense prevailed as luckily I spoke to my sister n brother in law before booking. I had a similar experience few years back and realised it's better to pay a little more in favour of a better airline than go through this agony.

Valerie SharpeValerie Sharpe
(July 21, 2018) I definitely would have taken pics as you did and recorded it. .. It's crazy and unfortunate for people treating you this way... so senseless... and missing a flight... I remember someone having to really freak out to be understood.. with these idiots.. tsk tsk tsk....🙂🙂🙂

(July 21, 2018) What a horror story.. some low cost airlines in Europe are as bad.. the stories of Ryanair are probably the worst.

Ben MeerhaegheBen Meerhaeghe
(July 21, 2018) Spice Jet sounds like a type of Indian diarrhea

Allen Maitri EnriqueAllen Maitri Enrique
(July 21, 2018) ayoko din sila (I don't like them also) ! I avoid them and Air India

Next stop: Fork on the Road: Abundance or Poverty by Choice?

Google Map

New Delhi (city), India

important places in New Delhi ESSENTIAL LANDMARKS
  • Tribhuvan International Airport Indira Gandhi International Airport - New Delhi's international airport
  • New Delhi Metro stop Airport Metro New Delhi - main bus terminal from the airport
  • Main Bazar Road Main Bazar Road - the main drag in Paharganj
  • Thamel Paharganj - New Delhi's backpacker area - cheap hotels, bargain shopping
  • Durbar Marg Karol Bagh - New Delhi's marginally upscale shopping area (compared to Paharganj)
  • Panchsheel Park Panchsheel Park - emerging alternative neighborhood to Paharganj
  • Greater Kailash I Greater Kailash I - emerging alternative neighborhood to Paharganj
  • Asaf Ali Road Asaf Ali Road - emerging alternative neighborhood to Paharganj
  • Ignou Main Road Ignou Main Road - emerging alternative neighborhood to Paharganj
  • RK Puram RK Puram - emerging alternative neighborhood to Paharganj
hotels in New Delhi HOTEL
  • Parigold B&B Parigold Bed & Breakfast - modern, homey, safe, central location in Paharganj, New Delhi
  • Yes Please Guest House Yes Please Guest House - cheap rates, central location in Paharganj, New Delhi
  • Backpacker Panda Backpacker Panda - cheap rates, central location in Paharganj, good reviews

Travel Tips for New Delhi

  1. the backpacker area in New Delhi is Paharganj. Paharganj is close to the Delhi rail station which gets handy for local and provincial travels. Anyone checking-in in Paharganj, I strongly recommend you arrive by day. It could be a system shock to arrive by night...seriously! Some hostels are tucked inside narrow dark alleys with bystanders and hard to find by day, let alone by night
  2. if taking the New Delhi Airport Express Metro upon landing, buy a Metro Card and load it up. It saves you time (instead of lining up to buy a ticket everytime you ride the Metro). Besides, riding the Metro is the most convenient way of getting across town - no traffic!
  3. Delhi is aggressively promoting the "water re-filling" station, usually located along the Metro stops. Use it! It stops more plastic bottles ending up in the bellies of whales!
  4. if Paharganj is too much for you (Danish rape of 2014, scams, filthy, congested, chaos, etc.) you can try other developing areas in the south which are increasingly becoming an alternative to the seedy Paharganj. These new alternatives offer quality food, more hygiene and safer, upscale neighborhoods - Jugaad, Greater Kailash I, Asaf Ali Road and IGNOU road

How to get to Paharganj (New Delhi) from the Indira Gandhi International Airport

  1. cab - cab takes you to Paharganj, $8-$11, 21 mins, 20 kms
  2. Ratna Park bus terminal Metro - from the airport, take the Delhi Metro - Orange Line and it will take you all the way to the Paharganj rail area, 22 mins, $1, trip every 15 minutes. From the train station, you can pay a motorickshaw INR 50 for the 1.4km trip to Paharganj
Travel Tips for India
  • e-VISA - visa on arrival is no longer done. Tourists should apply online for an e-VISA. Tourist e-VISA for 60 days = US$51.25 (including surcharges, non-refundable). NOTE: e-VISA is only honored in 25 designated airports and 5 designated seaports (Cochin, Goa, Mangalore,Mumbai,Chennai). You CANNOT do a land crossing using an e-VISA.
  • US$1 = Indian Rupee (INR) 67.18
  • nearly every food served is spicy...there is no escaping it
  • other travel destinations in India
  • always good to have an Indian SIM. It's handy to get wifi in some cafes

General Travel Tips
  1. arrive early - in case there is a snag (visa snag, documentation snag, transport ticket snag, etc.), you will have ample time to troubleshoot the problem if you arrive early (to the airport, to the bus terminal, etc.)
  2. put detailed itinerary on the Calendar apps of your smart-phone according to timelines - this is where you do all your thinking and planning. Once written down, you don't have to think anymore while you are on the just follow the steps. This frees your mind for something else that might happen while you are already en route
  3. avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
  4. power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!
India Blogs


  1. 16 Days in McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala: Goodbye India June 23-July 8, 2018
  2. Peoplescape of Dharamshala, India June 14 - July 8, 2018
  3. Visiting the Tibet Museum June 27, 2018
  4. In Search of a Tibetan Yantra Yoga Teacher June 25, 2018
  5. Conducting Yoga Classes at Pema Thang Guest House, Dharamshala, India June 24 - July 8, 2018
  6. Life in Upper Bhagsu, Dharamshala June 16-23, 2018
  7. Trekking to Naddi from Upper Bhagsu, Dharamshala June 19, 2018
  8. Matters of the Heart Jun 17, 2018
  9. A First Timer in Dharamshala Jun 14, 2018

  11. 29 Hours in New Delhi Airport July 9-10, 2018
  12. Meditation with Shirly Pnina at Lodi Garden, New Delhi May 15, 2018
  13. A First-Timer in New Delhi, India May 12-17, 2018

  15. A 26-Day Mini-Life in Rishikesh May 18 - June 13, 2018
  16. Peoplescape of Rishikesh May 18 - June 13, 2018
  17. Rafting the Ganga River with Greg Goldstein June 1, 2018
  18. White Water Rafting on Ganga River, Rishikesh May 25, 2018
  19. Satsang (spiritual discourse) by Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati May 21, 2018
  20. Ganga Aarti (devotional fire ritual) at Parmarth Niketan Ashram May 21, 2018
  21. Bouncing Back into Yoga in Rishikesh May 21, 2018
  22. Exploring Rishikesh, India May 18, 2018

  24. India e-VISA snag May 9, 2018

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