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Friday, April 1, 2016

An eventful air travel

I was coming back from Mumbai to Goa booked in Air India flight AI683. The actual itinerary I received on booking had mentioned 1hr 20mins of travel which suggested the aircraft to be the small ATR type. But on the day before my travel I got a reschedule message from Air India. The departure time in the message seemed to be the same. When I cross checked once again it was the arrival time which got changed. 1hr 20mins of travel time was decreased to 1hr which suggested Air India changed the aircraft to Airbus 319/320/321. I actually became happy that I would be reaching Goa early and would be able to catch some good sleep.

Now lets come to the travel day. Reaching the boarding gate I understood why Air India changed the flight. It seems they got more passengers that day and I saw many foreigners to board this flight to Goa. Air India had recently got membership in the 'Star Alliance' and these passengers might be the code share passengers who are using Air India services via Star Alliance. The boarding was 10 minutes late. As expected the aircraft was Airbus A320.

On boarding the flight I understood the fact that it was very old. A bad smell caught my nose once I stepped into the flight. Something like entering a house which was not occupied for months. The crew courteously welcomed us. I didn't have to move much as my seat was in the front rows. Was sad to see that the seat was so stained and soiled. I didn't mind. But I was thinking about the impression it made on the foreign passengers about the Indian national airline. Moreover there were lots of mosquitoes in aircraft and many passengers were seen driving the mosquitoes away from their vicinity.

The safety briefing started.

'All exit signs can be easily identified by the exit signs and the floor path lighting'

When the air hostesses tried to show the fluorescent green floor path strips, they were not there. No floor path strips existed in the aircraft. The crew actually got embarrassed with that unexpected backfire. But soon regained their postures and continued the safety briefing.

'To fasten the seat belt, push the metallic end into the buckle. To adjust the belt the loose end can be pushed or pulled...'

I tried to fasten my seat belt. Buckled it. But was not able to adjust it. It was stuck. Later left it to the way it was. Pretty loose on my lap.

'In case of a fall in cabin pressure, individual oxygen mask will drop down automatically'

The demonstration unit they had was so dirty that the air hostess in front of me was hesitating to handle it properly.

Once the cabin was secured, the lights were dimmed for take-off. The passenger who was seated in front of me switched on the overhead light for reading. The lights behaved like ones in ghost movies. It blinked for sometime before slowly becoming on. Then after sometime it went off by itself. The crew couldn't answer the passengers questions on this matter.

The flight took off and was stable now. So the crew started serving dinner. My row was now getting served. All in the row opened the tray table and the passenger who seated next to me found one end of the tray table broken. For having dinner, he had to finally support the dinner box near the end of the tray table which was not broken. Other items included like tea cup and water bottle was accommodated in my tray table.

It should be remembered that the crew did their best to make the travel comfortable for passengers in spite of all the hardships and embarrassments they had to face during the flight course. Kudos to them.

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