The agent in Imphal, India came out to the steps of the small airplane, “I think you missed your flight connection in Calcutta, but check with them there and see if you can get a seat on the later flight into Delhi at 10:00 p.m.”
“But,” I protested, “My Thai Airline flight to Bangkok departs from the Delhi International Terminal and not the domestic terminal at 10:00 p.m. That won’t work even if I were early, and I am nearly two hours late!” He lowered his umbrella over his head and walked away in the rain. To make things worse, my Delhi flight from Calcutta was also delayed. I did not have a ghost of a chance to make the Thai Airline connection. My flight would leave at 12:05 midnight and I would be nowhere close by.
I stopped mid-step and prayed, “Oh God, I don’t usually hassle you about such trivia, but I really need help on this one. It wasn’t my being dilatory or sloppy or lazy or late on this one, but I’m in trouble. Please help me. I really need to get home to Denver.”
As soon as the plane from Calcutta landed in New Delhi I took off running for the terminal. They had not even opened the cargo doors of the plane. It was after midnight. It would take at least 20 to 30 minutes to get the luggage from the plane to the terminal, but I could get instructions in the meantime on how to get across to the other side of the airport runways to the International Terminal.
The luggage arrival room where the carousel belt was located was still dark as I went past. No one had turned on the lights and no one was yet in the room. I stopped dead in my tracks. From the corner of my eye I noticed a single bag on the idle luggage belt. Impossible! It was my luggage! There was no explanation for it being there. I grabbed the bag and made a dash for the entrance of the Domestic Terminal. I stopped long enough to ask a woman at a kiosk for the best way to get to the International Terminal. “Well,” she blurted, “it sure won’t pay you to take the free shuttle, it takes an hour, leaves on the hour, and has already left.” I found it would take me at least 30 to 40 minutes by taxi, depending on the traffic.
While standing there I noticed an Air India counter back inside of the security area I had just exited. I decided to go for it. I walked right up midstream through the throng of people pushing their way out of security.
The security guards, dressed in their military uniforms, got this puzzled look on their faces when they saw me boldly walking right back through the oncoming crowd into the security area. When one moved toward me, I just put up the palm of my hand toward him and smiled kindly at him. He stopped and just looked at me.
There was a man standing at the desk. “I need your help very desperately, sir,” I said. “Your plane was delayed form Imphal to Calcutta and now I will miss my international flight on Thai Airway to Bangkok. How can I get to the international check-in counter for Thai Airway?” He reached for the radio on his belt and at the same time said, “Follow me closely and bring your bag.” There was a van waiting for me. As we left I hollered out, “Please call Thai for me . . . Thank You!”
Our route did not take us 40 minutes, but took us right across and down the active runway with lights flashing. We hurriedly went through several military checkpoints with only a tootle of the van’s horn.
“I will take care of your check-in … you go with this lady! Had you been one minute later I couldn’t have done this.” It all happened so fast. I slumped into my seat, “Thank you, God!” How do things like that happen? Did an angel carry that bag? Did it fly through the air by itself? Did its molecules unassemble, then, reassemble on the baggage belt? I wonder a lot about what I don’t know!