I have no memory of what it felt like the first time I ever sat inside an aircraft. The only thing I remember is a smiling stewardess handing me a toffee after which my brain ran helter-skelter for five minutes trying to unsuccessfully find a dustbin. Flying had romanticism attached. Uncles who came bearing suitcases with baggage tags were expected to bring gifts. More people came to drop off one passenger at the airport than what the aircraft could accommodate.
It’s a pity how growing up and having to fly almost everyday for work has ruined the mystique of flight. No longer do I expect to be enchanted by a stewardess who hands me a toffee. Instead I hope she stabs the self-important passenger who can’t stop talking about his business at 5 am. I hope I don’t get seated next to a baby or worse still, a person whose phone has the Samsung whistle message tone. I hope that for once my co-passengers won’t be so stupid that they’ll stand over each other in the aisle after landing as if the aircraft will take off again with them. On all counts, I’ve always been disappointed.
It feels even the Indian aviation sector is tired of itself. Gone are the exciting days of Air Deccan where passengers from across the country could experience what it felt like to travel in a Mumbai local. Gone are the times when everyone wilfully ignored Sahara India’s corruption because they gave away return air tickets for Rs100. No longer do we have Yana Gupta telling us safety procedures when all one is thinking is ‘panties panties panties panties panties seat belt panties incase of fire panties’.
All we have now is airports full of queues at Indigo counters while other airlines hope someone accidentally shows up after they don’t find seats on an Indigo flight. If we break it down through coffee shops, Indigo would be Starbucks, every other airline would be Café Coffee Day and Spicejet would be the guy who sells coffee on a bicycle for Rs5 at midnight. It’s to shake up this system that I’m glad the original Indian family of aviation, the Tatas, are finally coming back through a joint venture with Singapore airlines.
It makes logical sense given how the Tatas are already in every other business that supports aviation. They make metal with which aircrafts are built, hotels for the catering, cars used as taxis, buses for passenger transport, a terrible internet and phone company to serve the airport lounge and even agents across companies from life insurance to capital to threaten and harass you if you default on ticket payments. As long as planes don’t burst into flames mid-air like the Nano, we’re in for a great time.
Now if you excuse me, I have to board my flight and pretend to understand how to open the emergency exit door.