The thirty-minute flight from Pokhara to Kathmandu along the Great Himalayan range is a spectacular one. As the plane rises from the valley, the peaks of the Annapurna Sanctuary, especially the shapely Macchapuchare dominate the skyline. During the flight one can see Dhaulagiri, the Lamjung Himal, Manaslu and a host of other Himalayan giants. If you’re sitting, that is, on the left-hand seats.

Last December, five of us were returning from a short trek in the Annapurna foothills and were booked on the first flight out of Pokhara. We reached the airport counter well before time and were the first in queue. When the counter opened, I politely asked for the left-hand window seats. To my surprise, the airline representative replied, “All the left window seats are booked. Sir, please sit on the right side.”

As the airline did not have any web check-in facility, I asked how this had happened. However, the girl was adamant. Finally, in utter frustration, I asked her to issue the boarding passes. To my surprise, I found that there were no seat numbers on the passes. Then I saw a European group with a local guide waiting to check them in. This must be the reason for the ‘pre-booked’ left window seats!

We reached the departure gate first and waited to be called to board the small Twin Otter plane. As soon as the boarding announcement was made we literally ran to the aircraft and as the left window seats were unoccupied, we sat down immediately. The European group followed us in a bemused fashion and took the remaining window seats but interestingly did not protest.