India Vlog 2005: July 26, Departure from Milan

We were among the first people in line for our flight from Milan Linate airport to Frankfurt (Lufthansa, connecting on to Delhi). As we checked in, a young Italian couple arrived at the counter beside us. I had previously noticed the woman, wearing a clingy, spaghetti-strapped top, and thought in passing, “I hope she’s not going to India dressed like that.”

She was. They were… or not. No foreigner can enter India without a visa, and it’s part of the check-in agent’s job to ensure that all passengers have the papers they need for their final destination. The agent looked through their passports, then asked if they had visas. “What visas?” they asked. A long discussion ensued. The travel agent who sold them the tickets had not mentioned the need for a visa. None of their friends who had previously travelled to India had mentioned it. The airline agent had to be wrong!

They were finally more or less convinced that they needed a visa, but still suffered under the illusion that they would be able to get one and still make that 10:30 am flight. The airline agent thought they had to go to Rome for a visa. At that point I intervened and explained that they could get visas at the Indian consulate in Milan, and, if they applied this morning, they could pick up the visas in the evening. I confirmed that they did need visas, and showed them ours.

Ross and I felt sorry for them. What a crushing disappointment, to be all ready to depart on your big trip, and find out you can’t go. As we walked towards security, Ross said, “I wonder if they know they need shots?”

The flights were uneventful – about the best anyone can hope for in this day and age. Why is it that flights from Italy always park at the furthest possible gate in any other European airport? Without fail, when I fly from Italy to anywhere, I end up walking miles just to reach the terminal, or even having to take a bus from tarmac to terminal. Gah! Ross summed it up: “I guess they think Italians like buses.”

The departure wing where we had to wait for the flight to Delhi is one of the most boring airport areas I’ve ever been in. Other parts of Frankfurt airport seem reasonably well-equipped. This one had only a couple of sausage stands (when many of the people on flights to India are probably vegetarian!) and beer bars and some uninteresting shops, and there was a shortage of seats for all the people waiting – I have yet to take a flight to India that isn’t absolutely full.

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