Wednesday, May 26, 2021

For Rs 18,000, man flies solo to UAE on 360-seat plane

New Delhi: Implausible though it may seem, but under certain unusual circumstances, a piddly sum of Rs 18,000 can transmogrify in value to fetch you a 360-seater Boeing 777 aircraft for an exclusive two-and-a-half-hour flight. Ask Bhavesh Javeri, the 40-year old who flew as the lone passenger onboard Emirates flight from Mumbai to Dubai on May 19.

“I stepped into the aircraft and the airhostesses all clapped to welcome me aboard,” said Javeri, CEO of Stargems Group, speaking to TOI from his Dubai office about his “money can’t buy experience”. Javeri, a frequent flyer, has boarded over 240 flights between Mumbai and Dubai in the past two decades, but this is the first time that he recorded a clip while boarding a flight.

“I have flown so much, but this is the best flight ever,” he told the air hostesses as he walked in. The commander waved at him from the cockpit. An air hostess quipped: “I thought you would be scared to travel alone”.

The commander then came over from the cockpit to join in the conversation. “Should I give you a tour of the entire plane,” he joked. The novelty didn’t wear off after he buckled into seat 18A (18 is my lucky number, I asked for that seat, he said). It kept on coming through the flight in the form of the familiar inflight public address, delivered with a personal touch. “Mr Javeri, please fasten your seat belt”... “Mr Javeri, we are preparing to land”. “After we landed, I walked out leisurely and picked up my bag, the only one lying next to a conveyor belt,” said Javeri, a Dubai resident for the past 20 years.

Before Delhi upstaged it, Mumbai-Dubai was the busiest international routes out of India. So why did the airline have a 180-odd tonne Boeing 777, world’s largest twin-engine jet, burn about 17 tonnes of fuel worth Rs 8 lakh to fly a lone economy-class passenger on this two-and-a- half- hour long much popular route?

Under the current travel restrictions put in place by UAE, only UAE nationals, holders of Golden visa and members of diplomatic mission can fly from India to UAE. Javeri, a Golden visa holder, bought an economy class ticket, a week in advance as it had suspended regular flights. “I normally book a business class ticket, but I thought, why not book an economy seat, the flight would have only a few passengers,” said Javeri, whose parents live in Breach Candy. He learnt how wrong he was when he reached the airport in the wee hours to board the 4.30 flight. His ticket didn’t carry a date and so he was denied entry into the terminal building.

Standing outside the entrance, he called up Emirates, only to learn that the entire staff of flight EK501 was waiting for him. “I was elated. I had flown a charter flight from Dubai to Mumbai last June with nine passengers on a 14-seater aircraft. But it was no where close to this money-can’t-buy experience,” he said.

26/05/21 Manju V/Times of India

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