Ever since American Airlines began its non-stop Delhi-Chicago six years ago, all of us at OT have
Ever since American Airlines began its non-stop Delhi-Chicago six years ago, all of us at OT havebeen curious as hell. Fifteen hours straight to the US? No leg-stretching cigarette-stop halfway (somewhere in Europe, if you could afford a European carrier; Moscow/Bahrain/Amman, if you couldn’t)? The thought was both thrilling and frightful. Well, now I know, and my verdict: absolutely can do.
For the onward journey from Delhi, I flew Economy class. I was all prepared to fly first for the purposes of this grand review (I didn’t, but never mind why). The important thing was that, given the dashed hopes, fear of flying, inability to sleep upright and lack of socks (not my fault, I thought I’d get free pajamas and socks in First), I was expecting the worst. The worst, on a long-haul night flight, is of course not being able to sleep through the flight.
AA operates Boeing 777 aircraft on these flights. I got an aisle seat towards the rear. Which meant several things: I was among the last to be served meals, I was conveniently close to the loos, I had to get up several times in fifteen hours to allow the window-seat traveller use the facilities. The flight left at 12.30am, and would arrive in Chicago at 5.30am. These proved to be superb timings: you take off tired enough to fall asleep, and if you do manage to sleep, it’s a whole new day in Chicago. I waited patiently to be served dinner by a stewardess who looked fascinatingly like a dumpy, ageing Goldie Hawn. So charmed was I by her mechanical but kindly smiles and poufy hair (America, here I come!) that I forgot to snarl when she began to announce, “Only veg going now, honey” two rows ahead of me. Despite the mediocre Indian veggie meal, and despite all the aforementioned inconveniences, I slept. The excellently adjustable leather headrest can take the credit.
Flying Business always makes me feel like a child of a greater god. No worrying about whether you’ll get window or aisle or middle, whether the non-veg will run out, whether you’ll be able to squeeze your carry-on bag in among everybody else’s kitchen sinks. If I had the cash, this is the way I’ll be zipping from the US and back. What’s not to like? Flatbeds (pic), great meals and snacks that keep coming, great booze (I’m told, since not drinking alcohol on long-haul flights is one of my few healthy practices). AA bonuses: Bose noise-cancelling headphones that are good for both sleep and entertainment and a smart kitbag with Dermalogica goodies. Timings for the Chicago-Delhi flight are also convenient, leaving at 4.50pm and arriving the next day at 5.45pm, getting you home in good time for dinner.