Friday 2 December 2011

Incredible India: The Journey

Loyalty pays

My journey to India was wonderful, the morning started easy with the help of a friend who gave me a lift to the airport and his friend helping me ensure that I checked-in properly.

I could understand that many people like good flight deals but I have in most cases tried to build a sense of loyalty to one carrier or retain the services of airlines in the SkyTeam alliance.

I cannot say the alliance has the most exotic airlines but it offers decent global coverage if I do need to travel the globe. Most importantly, you accrue air-miles over a period of time that could come in useful.

Having more or less travelled around Europe a couple of years, I had accumulated just enough air-miles to travel in maximum comfort to New Delhi – basic lesson – loyalty pays.

Between speed and lift

This allowed me to have priority check-in, jump queues at the customs and then decide if I wanted to board early or late.

The aircraft was a 747-400 and somehow the seating plan on the website did not match the reality; I had booked an upper deck window seat towards the back but found that my seat was on the aisle in the front.

The window seat was not occupied, so I changed seats and caught a good view of events air-side.

We were to take-off at 11:00AM but there was a slight delay and a queue of 7 planes in front of us apart from the fact that we were taking the runway furthest from the airport, the taxi seemed to go on interminably.

When we finally took off, I was surprised to read the land speed was just 198mph (319km/h) to lift the jumbo jet off the ground. I had always thought a lot more speed was required.

New Delhi was just about 4058 miles (6530 km) for a journey duration of just less than 7 hours. The food was nice, the service very friendly, I started on the Steve Jobs biography and even got to watch the Harry Potter the Deathly Hallows Part I and almost all of Part II before we ready to land.

We are mosquitoes

The seat could recline to 170 degrees and really it was not as bad people made it out to be though there was a time I looked up and the flight tracking system showed an altitude of 0ft with almost a thousand miles to go, I did not think Boeing aircraft had altitude issues because that reading came up more than once.

As just before we got to India, we had to fill in forms and the cabin had to be fumigated which gave me such serious irritation that I almost coughed my guts out – this is a requirement for all flights arriving in India, I was on the verge of asking for oxygen as I gasped for air, but soon I was fine.

Easy through but waiting long

When we landed, I got a ride to the arrivals gate and by the time I got to baggage retrieval, my luggage was already on the carousel. Stepping out into the arrivals hall, I saw my name but I had to wait another 70 minutes for the other expected passenger before we left the airport.

My hotel is nothing like I have been accustomed to but it will suffice. We are in Incredible India.

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