Fun With Government Flights: Heathrow to Delhi


Little did we know it, but our first experience being let down by Indian state-owned transport would take place before we’d even entered Indian airspace. It was Air India Flight 112, a night flight from Heathrow to Delhi, and this is how it went in bullet point form:

  • The confusion began just after arriving at Heathrow. One of five white people in an interminably long line filled with Cool Indian Dudes and meticulously sari-wrapped grandmothers, we were conspicuous both in appearance and in our conversation, which was made up of constant questioning of Indian efficiency, “Why is this taking so long?” “Do these people know what they’re doing?” “Did we just get cut by like, five people?”
  • The flight took off forty minutes late. We were sat on the right side of the plane, next to an Asian guy who actually turned out to be a girl. There were a lot of empty seats on the plane, so she left soon after the first round of drinks came around.

Last known sighting of the Asian girl

  • Early on, we noticed that our entertainment systems didn’t work. Steve attempted to have this solved by pushing the ‘attendant’ button on his seat. For the first three hours, each time he did this (once every hour), he was told that the crew was “restarting the system, and [his] should be working soon”. This didn’t happen. Ever. On a trip to the bathroom he noticed a crew member looking at a computer screen displaying a map of the seats, with lights appearing everywhere the ‘attendant’ button had been pushed. The crew member simply cleared the map of its lights and went back to serving drinks. “Huh,” thought he, and for the next six hours of the flight he would push his ‘attendant’ button every twenty minutes, only to have the call light above his head be extinguished by unseen hands shortly thereafter.

Enjoying yourself yet?

  • Encouraged by the stewardesses’ stated wish to please passengers, yet also emboldened by their obvious unconcern for actually doing so, Devon started asking for double shots of Jim Beam — and getting them! Soon he started asking even when the drink cart wasn’t out. These requests were met by a quick “certainly, sir!” followed by a long, undetermined wait before the drink cart came back out and he tried his luck again.
  • Steve tried to put his seat back one hour into the flight. Almost immediately the man behind him spoke up, “Excuse me sir, please, (indeterminate language), please no seat back”. Steve relented – it was early in the flight, perhaps the man was right in his antagonism to Steve’s premature lounging – but when the same thing happened, with a different man sitting behind him, several hours later, things took a different, more agitated turn: “So I can’t put my seat back at all? Is that what you’re telling me? Jesus!”. It didn’t help, and his seat didn’t recline once the entire time.
    • Steve reflected later in his notebook, “Both guys that have sat behind me have complained about me trying to recline my seat, even by an inch. Apparently this is their first time on a fucking airplane. India is already getting on my nerves.” (See Nebraska Pact)
  • The cabin lights would, at all hours of the flight, sporadically blast us with obnoxious florescent beams, then suddenly shift into Disco Mode and bathe the walls in soft, moody hues of blue, purple, and orange. Many a snooze was disrupted by this.
  • An Indian family seated in front of us, who somehow took up five overhead luggage storage areas, began shouting at some man in the middle of the night for taking an empty seat near them that none of them were using. When the crew got involved, we snapped this:

Who sat first? No, what's at first!

  • The family then went on to redistribute the seats surrounding them to an Asian woman and an Australian guy who happened to be neighboring them. “You go over here, my wife needs three seats” barked the patriarch. Then two minutes later, “Don’t sit there anymore! Come over here now!”
  • As we descended into Delhi, the cabin TV sets broadcasted a camera view from the nose of the plane. All you could see was brown haze and the imperceptible outlines of a harsh, environmental regulation-free civilization. “That looks fucking hot,” commented Steve. And oh it was.
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About Steve and Devon

Yeah! We're the best!
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One Response to Fun With Government Flights: Heathrow to Delhi

  1. hehe…..
    amazingly described!

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