Monday, 27 July 2009


The Indian government is to prop up ailing national airline, Air India, whose losses are reported at $50 million a month. Conditions have been laid out that Air India must meet, in order to secure the bail-out money. Or else..

Air India was my preference for the `great flight` from London to Sydney. 9½ hours to Mumbai made an excellent break-point. The service was gracious, and the light vegetarian food, ideal for flying. Then their Australia service was suspended. Alas.

I have subsequently flown on just about every other carrier: Singapore Airlines, Qantas, United/Air New Zealand, British Airways, Gulf Air, JAL, Malaysian, Alitalia, Korean Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Thai, Garuda, Pan Am (that was).

Some good, some not so good, others terrifying.

On one flight to Sydney, I made a list of ALL the carriers I had EVER flown with. The entry was accepted by Guinness World Records but I rather feel, during her term as US Secretary of State, that Condoleezza Rice may have flown on many more. (It was not the frequency, note, but the greatest number of different international airlines).

One of my favourite trips was on Korean Air when the stewardess wheeled a library up and down the plane. Problem was the only book in English was Tolstoy`s War and Peace which would have taken several trips to Sydney and back, via Seoul, to finish.

The longest flight was on Grrr- Garuda - 45 hours - due to a hard landing and a 15 hour delay, in Abu Dhabi.

The most frightening was a BOAC - VC10 when our engines caught fire and we went down the slides and ran for our lives: 20th Sept 1971, in Singapore.

And the outright best? Well, a good flight depends on so many factors - plane, crew, food, check-in, in-flight entertainment, but all things considered, I would say the south-east Asian airlines
come out tops.

c.Christine Osborne

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