The news spread like wildfire. Grandma pictured her granddaughter (your’s truly) well dressed, high heels, clutching a handbag and pulling her luggage at the airport, boarding a flight to be made comfortable by a host of beautiful smiling women inside the aircraft. What she expected post my return was a call from my end to describe my experience inside the aircraft. She couldn’t care less about Mumbai. She has heard about it from my granddad.
I felt like a celebrity. From all the attention I got. Be it my grandmother or from the lovely stewards mid air.
By the way this was eight years ago. Today, the mention of the word ‘Fly’ makes my grandmother ask anybody just one question. Economy or proper? The fuss with which she treated my air travel has vanished.
She’s not the only one though. I boarded an economy flight for the first time recently when I had to travel to Ahmedabad. I patiently waited for my turn to board and trust me the sight that met my eyes made me stop in my tracks. What greeted me inside the aircraft was a long narrow stretch of space lined with seats that looked like a well furnished KSRTC bus.
Reminding myself that the definition of economy has been through a metamorphosis, I squeezed myself in the narrow aisle making my way towards my seat . As soon as the pilot geared up for take off, I jostled myself out of my new found ‘economy depression’ and allowed some blood to flow to my face. After all, we were taking off, which means we would be served food in a short while from now. I was starving.
Mid air when the pilot had settled comfortably, I saw an airhostess handing out menu cards. I was impressed. I mean, you call yourself economy but hand out menu cards to manifest your options? Fantastic! My heart was pumping extra blood. But what drained the color off my face was the price tag attached to every option inside. What? You expect me to pay 75 bucks for a lousy sandwich? That too without extra cheese? Ridiculous.
I bought it. I was starving you see. The lack of in – flight entertainment made me chew the lousy cold sandwich whilst looking at the vast stretch of beautiful clouds. That was the first time I wished I could apparate from one place to another. The three hours journey seemingly was taking a lifetime when suddenly I glimpsed terrain. Green and brown patches of land below. We were landing. And slowly my soul which had slipped into coma was coming back to life. We were landing and for the first time in three whole hours, I was genuinely happy. My countdown to land had started.
Just a few feet above the ground my mind wandered to the most significant aspect of flying. Smooth Landing. Suddenly, my worst fears started haunting me. None of my expectations were coming true right from the time I stepped inside this aircraft. Do I cross my fingers or do I …………..and the sound came, “BHAAMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!”
We landed. And how? I was curious if we had left a mark on the spot where our aircraft kissed the land.
Coming to think of it, the ‘Good Old Days’ as we term them had an elitest aura and boasted of an unmatched excitement and exclusivity. These days airlines have turned into mere Page 3 variations of the aviation industry. Cram up everybody into a single place and call them all celebrities. Maybe that is the real meaning of democracy.