Please Read Parts 1 – 4 First
Boarding an Air India 747 was quite an experience. Smoking was allowed on these flights so we made sure to purchase seats in the non-smoking area. Three things stand out in my memory about boarding the aircraft. The sights; mostly Indian people who seemed to be right at home on this airplane. The sounds; chatter in the Hindi language, some english and The smell: not to be disrespectful but one thing I’ve learned about Indian people is that they love to cook with strong smelling spices and the aroma of those spices stay with them, on their breath, in their clothes.
We found our seats just three rows from the very back of the aircraft. I would be in seat A which was by a window. Felicia was in B the middle seat and in the isle seat was a young Indian who was a student at New York University. His name was Naresh.
It was late and our decent would be into the dark skies over the Atlantic ocean. I couldn’t help but think about the TWA flight that had gone down over these same waters at about this same time of night. I was still a bit nervous about flying and to make it worse I was on an Air Indian flight, leaving New York in the dark for a thirteen hour flight over the Atlantic Ocean. I knew the flight would go by fast because I was exhausted and ready for some sleep.
Something wasn’t right. I could smell cigarette smoke. I looked around the cabin and there were several passengers who lit up as soon as the no smoking light was extinguished. This can’t be right because we purchased seats in the non smoking area. I was not very happy when I discovered that not only were we in the smoking area but we were in the rear of the aircraft, the place where passengers from non-smoking came to smoke.
My eyes searched the cabin as far as I could see. Looking for empty seats. Somewhere Felicia and I could move to escape the stifling smoke that had already formed a thick cloud. No luck. This 747 is packed. I didn’t see an empty seat anywhere. I asked the flight attendant who was not compassionate about our situation. “There are no other seats,” she said.
This flight would be long. Thirteen hours to London with a short layover. Ten hours from London to Bombay (now Mumbai) with a short lay over. Two and a half hours from Bombay to Bangalore for a total time including flying from Pensacola to JFK with layovers of nearly fifty hours. The seat was tight the smoke was thick and there was a long way to go. Felicia and I agreed the best thing to do was try and relax and get some sleep.