Singing the Mumbai Blues

Rodney Bennett on a chaotic return trip from Mumbai to the U.S.
Industry Matters Newsletter
Rodney Bennett, Winding Trails, LLC
Rodney Bennett, Winding Trails, LLC

Rodney Bennett, Winding Trails, LLC

Rodney Bennett has spent the last 40 years in various industrial positions within agrochemical research. He continues to engage in the support of registration of crop protection products on a global basis, now heading his own company, Winding Trails, LLC. He is an ACS Fellow from the class of 2015.


What is the one essential piece of personal tech you always travel with?

I always carry more than one power adapter. Although many computers use EU as well as USA voltages, the plugs are often different.

Window or aisle?  

When I was young and had not travelled as much (especially in Europe and Asia), I enjoyed a window seat to be able to look out over the landscape. After travelling to most of the scenic spots multiple times, I now enjoy an aisle seat, which provides a little more room. I also enjoy being able to get up and not have to move over or around another person.

Where would your dream business trip take you? What appeals to you about this destination?

I would like to go to Egypt someday. With the current COVID issues and some of the political issues, it may be a while before I consider that type of trip. I would like to see the pyramids, and fly and cruise along the Nile.

How do you pass the time while flying?

If traveling long distances, I try a number of things:  

  • Work on presentations and catch up on work email
  • Read for pleasure or professional development
  • Work on some of my civic organizations
  • Review professional articles and pre-publication materials
  • Listen to soothing music
  • Watch in-flight movies
  • And of course, EAT!

Favorite ACS meeting site?

I am particularly fond of San Diego, CA. The weather and activities are varied and enjoyable.  

What do you do to alleviate jet lag?

For long trips to Europe/Asia/Australia, I try to adjust my biological clock prior to, and during the flight. I adjust my mealtimes to match the destination. If the flight is more than 8 hours, and leaves in the evening, I typically have a meal and then go to sleep. If the flight continues for 8 hours or more, I attend to some work. When traveling eastward (losing hours), it becomes more important to rest on the plane. I try to travel on a weekend and acclimate to the new time zone prior to having to start the work week.

Was there a business trip you have taken that went particularly badly?  What happened?

On a return trip from Mumbai, India, my plane had mechanical problems and we were delayed. We had to deplane and then were sent through customs. We had to retrieve our luggage and then were directed to an area where we would be bussed to multiple hotels.  

The area was in complete chaos. The airline was not able to assign anyone to a specific hotel, so people were running to buses to see if they could get onto one of them to get to a hotel. I stayed behind with a family from Mumbai, and we waited on one of the smaller shuttles that came from one of the hotels. We were able to get to a very nice hotel. All of this occurred in the early hours of the morning, as the flight was scheduled to leave after midnight.  

We got some sleep and then a bus finally arrived mid-morning to take us back to the airport. Once inside, more chaos, as the airline was not prepared to book the next flight. We finally got the next flight on that airline, and after hours in the airport and going through the two customs checkpoint areas again, boarded the new flight. As we were about to take off, I was still worried. Sure enough, the engine raced and then stopped. The flight was cancelled on the runway. Once again, we were bussed from the runway to customs and began the process of being dumped out of the airport. We opted for another airline, and fortunately Swiss Air was very accommodating.  

Your best business travel tip for readers of ACS Industry Matters?

Be flexible, be early for all flights, and have fun! Expect potential delays and do not have short connections for any flights anywhere in the world. Check ahead for all flights, but anticipate that the information even on your phone apps may be inaccurate.   

This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

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