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It can only be a good thing that more and more airlines are plying from India. KLM, for instance, is an excellent way of getting to Europe, with the wonderful inbuilt option of having a couple of nights in Amsterdam before doing what you have to do.
Of course, KLM is not a new airline; in fact, it can be described as the world’s oldest airline as it hasn’t had a name change since the 1920s. It merged with Air France several years ago, which escaped me at the time, but it does mean even better connections.
I was spoiled with a business-class seat, an unmitigated joy after all these years (since marriage, children and penury) of turning right. I could almost believe again in the romance of travel. The excellent wine list certainly helped. The food was good too, though I made the mistake of choosing their vegetarian breakfast. I should have known that dosas die young and cannot be reborn by being reheated.
Somehow, the Dutch get away with little bits of kitsch like their salt and pepper pots in—yes, you’ve guessed it, I’m sure—clogs.
Another reason you may like to consider flying with KLM is if you are remotely interested in saving the world. They have won the award for being the most sustainable airline 12 years in a row. Some of their flights are fuelled entirely by used cooking oil. If you are properly genuine you can put your money where your mouth is by compensating for your flight’s CO2 emissions by donating to one of KLM’s reforestation projects. You wouldn’t be alone. In 2017, 60,000 of their passengers chose to do this.Arriving at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport is always a pleasure with policemen on bicycles and Tesla taxis, but no sooner had we touched down than it was time to take off again. I was warned it may be scary.
‘This Is Holland—The Ultimate Flight Experience’ pretty much describes the whole thing, but doesn’t do any justice to it. You arrive at a purpose-built building, a 20-minute free ferry ride and walk from just behind the Amsterdam Central station. If you have booked in advance, there are no queues.
First, there is a bit of audio-visual general education about the country’s history and geography. Did you know a Dutch invented Bluetooth? So far, so more or less interesting. Finally, you are strapped into a seat with 19 others ready for your nine-minute flight through time and space.
The drama rises as your seats are lifted up and suspended under the 19-metre infinity dome, surrounded by stars, your feet dangling into the darkness. Then you fall like a stone and the flight begins. From then on you feel like an eagle, except that eagles don’t have a sense of smell and can’t smile. That’s why they call it 5D. You don’t just feel the wind in your hair; you smell the flowers (tulips, inevitably); you shiver in the cold of winter and warm up with the summer sun. You have a huge grin on your face and struggle in your chair to steer the camera away from the steeple of an ancient church or to avoid a crack of lightning.
Everyone agreed that it was all over way too soon, but it was an amazing way to get to know the country. Why doesn’t someone do this for India?
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