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18 October 2010

Jet Airways bounces

JET AIRWAYS, India’s second largest airline, has always been consistent with its excellent quality of service in both domestic and international sectors. This is why I had to praise then scold the airline teams last week, when I flew from New Delhi to Toronto.

The flight’s first leg, a seven-hour travel from New Delhi to Brussels, was in usual good form. This was the new Airbus 330, and Jet Airways made sure the spacious legroom wouldn’t go unnoticed (I noticed, big-time). My low-fat meal was far from bland—very tasty, in fact—although I couldn’t resist the tempting Belgian ice cream dessert. Hey, a little sinfulness on a long journey is not bad, ya?

The flight attendants are equally good-looking. Jet Airways must have assigned the tallest, best built ladies and gentlemen to serve this particular European flight, as I’ve never observed such handsomeness in Jet Airways’ Southeast Asian flights. I glimpsed at the premiere-class cabin, and wondered how even more ebullient the service out there must be.

The second leg, eight hours from Brussels to Toronto, was the total opposite. It was bad badder baddest. This Airbus 330 was so ancient I immediately detected a whiff of the carpet’s musky odor when I stepped in. Oily finger stains greeted me when I unfolded the meal tray. The tight space between seats is best defined as KNEE-room, not legroom.

Worst, it took forever for the flight attendant to serve my request for tomato juice. Forty-five minutes, in fact. When she finally did, she brought me orange, not tomato, juice. When I complained with a big grimace, she smiled back with an insouciant look on her pretty Punjabi face. I immediately scooted to the kitchen at the back of the jet, scolded her supervisor for tolerating such staff arrogance and service mediocrity, and made him understand my anger with as much Oscar-Award-worthy dramatics as I could muster.

Ten minutes later, I was back on my seat and my blood pressure had normalized. The man seated behind me opened the overhead compartment. A heavy bag fell from the compartment. I knew it was a heavy bag because It Fell. On. My. Head. “That hurt”, I said truthfully. He said nothing as he picked up the bag from the floor. For a while, I thought he was the flight stewardess’ boyfriend. (Oy, maybe he was!)

I can now categorically state that smelly aircraft carpets result in weird human behaviors during long-distance flights.

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