Thursday, April 13, 2006

Air Deccan aka Simpli-Fry

I just have had the good fortune to offer Air Deccan some custom. The experience has been in a certain way, rather exhilarating. There is a robust quality about the way the merry lot go about conducting business. Any captain of industry will tell you that the secret to an admirable and successful business are not the satisfied customers, but the hapless, suffering and inextricably trapped ones. I am happy to deplane the news that Air Deccan has managed to amass the latter variety in droves. As already mentioned, I too was a proud member of this not-so-exclusive club a few days back, and am back with a first hand account of the whole blood curdler.

In all honesty, the hair-raising episodes begin with rather benign, innocuous notes. Upon checking in, one is given that dull yellow boarding pass by a slightly surly stewardess. When enquiring about the conspicuous absence of the seat number on the boarding pass, one will be informed that the seats have been allocated by a brand new method called free-seating. Free-seating when taken upon face value, sounds like a rather benign, democratic phenomenon which can be tackled with the nonchalant wave of the hand. However I am sad to state that very much akin the elections in Bihar, ( which again, taken on face value does sound like an exercise in benign, democratic hobnobbing ) is certainly not to be taken liberties with. It is an exercise fraught with frenzied activity and ruthless blood spilling. I will therefore venture to digress a bit and explain the mechanics of the whole racket for the benefit of the innocent. This free-seating thingy comprises of the following steps:

  1. Collect roughly 2/3rds of all your material possessions and check it in as cabin luggage
  2. When inside the craft, seek and destroy all available space in the overhead bins by cramming your stuff into it. If the refrigerator does not fit in the bin above your seat, try and shove it under the seat in front of you. ( That is the law.)
  3. Distribute one's family far and wide inside the plane and try and ensure that nobody else occupies the intervening seats so that the loud conversation during the flight is unhindered.
  4. Try and browbeat any bald, unattractive man from occupying any seat near one, or the rest of one's family.
The watchful reader however, will have noticed that to conduct and excel at the spirited activity of free seating, one must be inside the craft. I will now try and describe the process by one may insert oneself safely, and effectively into an aeroplane. The following treatise might not help one at all times to get into the desired aircraft, but will certainly ensure that one is in some variety of flying vehicle, with some nature of destination.

The first point one should note is that the time and date for departure expressed on the boarding pass is not be taken literally -- It is more of a metaphoric direction, like a miasmal Nostradamus prophecy or the 30 minute pizza delivery promise from Dominos. A departure is destined, and the faithful are urged to wait. The scheduled departure time shall arrive and then slip away quietly, but the prophetic boarding call shall not do the same. Therein lies the second catch -- there is no boarding call. Air Deccan does not involve itself in such shameless spoon-feeding, but in turn depends on the enterprise, guile and cunning on the part of the passenger to get him/herself boarded. So, here are the broad directions if followed, will prevent one from languishing and withering away at the terminal for the rest of one's natural life.

  1. Roughly after an hour after the indicated departure time, take a wary, but careful look around. In one area of the departure terminal one will notice a large, thronging multitude of aspiring passengers waving random objects in the air. Upon closer examination, one will discover that the attention of the merry mob is directed towards a particular door. One is advised to make a mental note of the location of that particular door, since that is the area in which all things interesting shall occur. One is then advised to mentally and physically prepare oneself for the ensuing struggle with the above mentioned thronging multitude. I have, for the convenience of my fellow human beings captured a picture of this doorway:
    Action Stations
  2. One must be warned that getting to the door is not for the faint hearted. Prepare to push, shove, kill and maim to get there. Also do not forget to carry one's hallowed boarding pass.
  3. Once one has arrived at the door, standing amidst the remains of many fellow human beings who have perished on the way to the very place where one stands exhausted, one shall encounter a surly sphinx. Upon meeting with him, one is urged to vigorously wave one's boarding pass under his nose. The man then might allow one through. If one is rejected ( One should be prepared to be rejected about a seventeen times), re-insert oneself behind the mob.
  4. Repeat from step 2 till desired results are obtained.

Once one has managed to please the sphinx and get into the plane, and has managed to grab a seat for oneself, one is urged to discuss with at least five fellow passengers regarding their personal opinions on the destination of the flight. If three or more individuals concur with one's views on the same subject, one possesses a fighting chance of arriving at the desired destination. The rest of the journey is much simpler -- It mainly comprises of twiddling one's thumbs and gritting one's teeth when being subjected to blank stares from the hostesses.

The whole experience is however not completely devoid of merit and I, in my truthful and informative nature cannot deny the reader this fact. The pleasant aspect of the whole Air Deccan operation is that it does not serve any food, or water on the plane and I, for one am extremely pleased with the revolutionary step. I, do not react extremely favourably to free munchies or dinner served during a journey. I shall not lie -- I gorge and I uncontrollably eat. I have without fail, walked out of many a Rajdhani Express and langar, feeling rather uncomfortable and dyspeptic ( to say the least). Air Deccan has however not subjected me to any such tribulation at all. When I finally trickled out of the airplane, (about a four hours late) I might have been tired, scarred and disoriented, but there were absolutely no signs of heartburn or dyspepsia, and amazingly I was ready for dinner too ! Like numerous other things during the journey, this too was unprecedented.

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Londradical said...

! :)

Dinesh said...

I had great respect for the commuters of Brahmputra Mail and North East Express. But this new information reduces them to clumsy luxarymongers. Deccan air is indeed the real Zen thing.