Having recently completed a journey to India and Nepal I thought I would share a few of my experiences and insights. Let me start with what turned out to be a rather non-standard experience of flying New York to Delhi. Right up front I will say that in general I love flying. But commercial air travel has really become a hassel to the point that I now consider the flight to be a necessary evil for travel – something to be endured so that I can explore the world. (Full disclosure – I fly economy. I’m sure the First Class flight experience is somewhat different).
My flight to Delhi India departed Newark nearly on time around 7:20 PM. The flight of 7323 miles was scheduled to take around 14 hours and 10 minutes. (The return flight schedules out at 15 hours 15 minutes – due to typical prevailing winds aloft I assume.)
I was flying in a Boeing 777 and as is my usual plan, I looked up seating options on a great web site, “Seat Guru“. It provides seating and in flight amenities information for almost all airlines and aircraft. A bit of research revealed there were two seats on my flights which, due to curvature of the fusalage, have a bit of extra leg room. (See those two little Green Seat icons in economy – way back there in row 41? ) I snagged one of these for my outbound and return flights and it worked like a charm. There was indeed considerably more leg room which is important for my 6 foot 4 inch frame – especially for 15 hours!
After take off I settled back and ate sparingly of the “dinner” served in coach. Then it was time for sleep. For me, sleep is one of the best ways to endure long flights. Cabin lights had been dimmed. I popped on my noise canceling headphones, dialed in some soothing music from my iPhone and before putting on my eye shades. I glanced at the in-flight progress map displayed on the seat back in front of me. The display showed us heading northeast out of New York over New England well on our way toward Delhi via a great circle routing.
I awoke about six hours later happy that I had “erased” a significant portion of that 14 hour flight. I glanced at the in-flight progress map on the seat back. That’s when I had a sinking feeling. Something was clearly wrong. Here’s what I saw -
The first thing I noticed was the flight line going out over the North Atlantic and then apparently stopping. That made no sense at all. A closer look revealed that the little airplane icon which represents the plane’s current location was positioned over New York. A bit perplexed, I consulted with a cabin attendant. The news was not good. Seems there had been an “in-flight medical emergency” and the plane had returned to New York. We would be landing shortly. It was 4 AM New York time.
I won’t go into all the details other than to say that I was told it turned out to be not so much a medical emergency as a “disoriented” individual who was somewhat disruptive for a time but then managed to sleep all the way back to New York. Suffice it to say that everyone was upset, inconvenienced, and delayed. That included not only me but everyone else on the plane, friends awaiting arrival of the plane in Delhi, the crew, the airline, and also I assume those in Delhi who had been waiting to board the flight for it’s turn around / return flight to New York.
I’ve never experienced this situation before. If it’s new to you I can tell you how the airline handled our situation. All passengers were given a hotel room in New York as well as several food vouchers. Checked baggage was left on board the aircraft (again – a good reason to carry those essentials with you in your carry on bag). The plane was serviced and, I assume due to flight limitations, a new crew was brought on board. The flight was “re-numbered” since it was now a “non-scheduled” flight. Everyone returned to the plane which departed New York /Newark at 6 PM for a second attempt at reaching Delhi. We had essentially been delay almost 24 hours.
The second flight to Delhi went off without any problems. Here’s a video of our Newark departure -
And our flight path (completed this time) -
And by the way, this is as close to Afghanistan as I think I ever want to be -
And here is a video of our final approach and landing in Delhi.
Finally – On The Ground In Delhi!
Everything About Travel Is An Adventure – Embrace and Enjoy It!
Dr. B, The Photo Trekker