I traveled from New Delhi, India, to JFK, New York US, on an evacuation flight operated by Air India on 15th July.
Total flight time is roughly 15.5 hours from the time you board and de-board the plane.
The following highlights my experience on the flight:
- I had to wear the face mask and the face shield, which was provided to everyone at the time of the boarding.
- The flight was 100% full with 'no' alternate seating and so no such thing as social distancing.
- To disperse any cloud of particles expelled from the lungs of any passenger around me, I switched on the overhead fan.
- There was no blanket and pillows on any seat I saw. With the overhead fan on, it was cold for me.
- Meal for 3 times was placed in plastic bags on every seat. So no food ‘service’ throughout the flight.
- There were sandwiches, samosa, yogurt, 2 water bottles and a few other items.
- No tea was served and for more water, people were asked to go to the pantry area to pick a water bottle.
- Since the meal-packet was big, it had to be kept in the foot-rest area. This made seating extremely uncomfortable with legs skewed.
- The flight crew was totally decked-up in PPE (personal protective equipment) suit.
- The entertainment panel/screens didn't work for everyone. I am sure that it was deliberately done so that no passenger creates a fuss if his entertainment screen doesn't work.
- 2 restrooms at the end of the plane were locked and the crew asked people to use the ones in the front. I am sure that the crew kept these restrooms for their own use.
- I had to use the restroom, after the initial 7 hours of flight, and there no toilet paper and tissue left.
- Fortunately, I keep tissues in my pocket and those 'saved my day'.
- But, now imagine, for others who were ahead of me or used the restroom after I did. Talking about hygiene in this coronavirus infested world, you can now imagine what was happening.
- At the JFK airport, though everyone was to wear the mask, it didn't appear to be as strict as the Delhi airport.
Overall, l think Air India tried to do the best that they can.
I slept for hours on the flight but it took over 8 days to overcome the jetlag. This suggests that it was a way too tiring flight other than pinning the jetlag on the time difference.
If you were to travel on such a flight, my strongest suggestions are:
- Carry wet wipes and tissues, hand sanitizer and dry soap
- Wear stretchy full pants and full-arm shirt
- Less cabin luggage
- Use the restroom before boarding the plane
- Clean your tray/table with wet wipes
- If you have lower back issues, carry a small and light pillow (just in case)
At the Delhi airport, other than the Duty-free and a few coffee shops, there was nothing opened that I experienced. So, for example, if you were to get your currency exchanged at the Delhi Airport, there was no exchange counter open.
I would assume that traveling from other Indian cities like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, etc. to the US or other parts of the world, you will have a similar experience.
It will be great if any of you who might have traveled by air either from or to India in recent times would like to share your experience to help others get better prepared, then please share by clicking on 'POST YOUR TIPS' on the page here https://entryindia.com/tips.