Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Flying back to India has never felt this special: Murli Gavit

I was relieved when I finally found my name in the passengers’ list of the Nairobi-Mumbai Air India flight, which was a part of the Vande Bharat Mission and brought back stranded Indians on June 5. I was stranded at Iten (Kenya), since January 10, and the feeling of coming back to India after almost five months can’t be described in words. I must admit that flying back to India has never felt this special!
As required, I reached the Nairobi airport four hours before the departure time and I had to stand in a long queue for three hours. However, I didn’t mind it one bit, since it is necessary to screen every passenger thoroughly. The security-check and immigration didn’t take much time. The food court at the airport was closed. The flight was delayed by two hours.
Inside the aircraft, everything had been placed systematically on our seats, including masks, sanitisers, face shields and food packets (they included apples, chocolates, chips packets, fruit juice and dry fruits). The flight was full, and everyone was relieved to be on it. The cabin crew staff were really nice. Since it was a long flight, we used the washroom, it was clean.
Instead of 8 pm, we landed at 10.30 pm IST and I have never seen the Mumbai airport this empty before!
Since some passengers hadn’t downloaded the Aarogya Setu app in their phones, the formalities took a bit of time. A coffee shop was open at the airport, which was also serving sandwiches, but I didn’t feel like having anything. There were 64 passengers from Gujarat on the flight, and buses were arranged. Proper social distancing was maintained, and 23 people boarded each bus, which was a 46-seater. Our bus left Mumbai airport around 3 am.
10/06/20 Soumitra Das/E Times
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