Have a Save Flight: Welcome to Your Low-Cost Carrier, Suckers


Have a Save Flight: Welcome to Your Low-Cost Carrier, Suckers

Illustration: Sushant Ahire

Welcome to your short-haul international flight on a low-cost carrier that you purchased because you’re either (i) poor or (ii) stingy AF. We know many of you have flown with us before. We hope our prices put you in enough of a moral dilemma to keep flying with us, even though we make you miserable.

Our flight in every city departs from the oldest and most shed-like terminal. Please find your way to this terminal (which is also the only one where the city trains don’t stop) three hours in advance because that’s when we close the check-in counters. Please don’t try to check in online, our site does not work and when it does, it will request money from you. Once you put your credit card details in, it will spasm briefly and then tell you, “All international flight check-ins are handled by our capable ground staff at the airport.”

Once you’re at the airport, please look for the busiest check-in queues. We do not label our counters because these queues are our brand. We have eight counters, but today we are staffing only two. There are two flights (and about 300 of you) to check in, so our staff will naturally be taking frequent breaks to chat with each other. Please remember that if you’re looking for someone to blame, there are families of four travelling with twelve bags spread across three trolleys. Their trolleys may knock you to the ground, but their children will apologise promptly by laughing loudly in your face while you lie on your back, motionless. From time to time, you may notice that new people are cutting the queue. Please do not panic; it is completely acceptable airport etiquette for one person to hold a spot in the queue for another five. This allows the five power shoppers to buy cashews for mausaji’s Pintu. Also keep in mind that the cashews will be stuffed into their bags at the last minute before check-in.

At this world-class airport (where only LCCs operate), you have a variety of dining options to choose from. There is a McDonald’s, a KFC, and for those of you who are on a diet, there is a drinking water fountain. Your gate has space for about eighty people to sit, so the other 100 have an option of sitting on the floor or walking around the terminal aimlessly. When an announcement is made to begin boarding, please promptly arrive at your gate and present your boarding pass, which we will tear into two because that’s just how we roll.

We will give you a brief five-minute window of elation when you board and see that the flight is only half-full. We understand that the highlight of your day is the moment when you think the seats next to you will be empty. We regret to now inform you that this plane is full and you’re quite fucked.

Many of you are surprised and smiling at the thought of a free meal. To this, we respectfully say, “Suckers!” Yes the meal is complimentary and yes it’s dinner time.

Now that you’ve settled into your misery, we’d like to take you through the in-flight announcement in two languages while our pilot taxis around the runway in a relaxed manner. We’re number six in the take-off queue and our pilot has just lost his sunglasses, so we could be a little late in our departure. For reasons we will never explain to you, the AC remains switched off while we’re on the ground as part of our free in-flight sauna service.

It’s our pleasure to inform you that we are now in the air and cruising at a stable altitude. The seatbelt sign has been switched off and we will be commencing the meal service. We are pleased to provide you complimentary meals on this flight. Many of you are surprised and smiling at the thought of a free meal. To this, we respectfully say, “Suckers!” Yes the meal is complimentary and yes it’s dinner time. We will not be asking “veg or non-veg?” because there is only a veg option available. And the meal is a snack box of the kind you got on school picnics – it’s a white paper box with half a veg puff, half a cheese sandwich (origins of bread unknown), a packet of Lay’s (₹5, as the packet proudly proclaims), and a plastic cup. We will provide tea (there is no coffee). If you ask our servers, they will cheerfully decline to sell you any actual food because there is none. In case you’d like to know more about where your food comes from – and where the other half of that sandwich is – we can confirm that our catering team is really just a grocery-shopping team with an affinity for A-1 Bakery in Gadchiroli.

By serving and clearing your meal within the first hour and having no in-flight entertainment, we have now successfully gifted you two hours in which you are free to stare at the seat in front of you. We will dim the cabin lights so you can sleep, but just as you nod off, we will bring them back on. Who were you kidding anyway? Those kids were never going to let you sleep. We will occasionally reprimand the parents of various hell-raisers rushing around the aisle, but then the parents will shrug and continue to talk loudly among themselves.

You may use the lavatories now, please do note that whatever unseemly thing is stuck to the toilet bowl will not disappear no matter how many times you try to flush before squatting. If you wanted clean toilets, you should have booked a business class ticket on our airline, which would have got you six more inches of leg space and no other benefits for a cost of only 100 per cent extra.

We are now landing and request you to wait while we arrange for a staircase to get you off the plane. Because our airline is very low in the pecking order of airlines, this will take us half an hour. Please use this time to check your seat pockets for anything you might have left behind. It is at this point that you may realise that the pocket is torn at the base and your stuff is now on the floor, rolling around other seats. Do get down on all fours to find it, but please do not get in the way of everyone prematurely pulling their bags out and queuing up to deplane. We hope you enjoy the spectacle of these geniuses standing uncomfortably, jammed between their bags, for the better part of 20 minutes in the illusion that they have saved a few minutes.

We are proud to have flown you today and we hope your stay in this city is pleasant. Please do remember our airline the next time you’re feeling stingy enough to sacrifice any semblance of self-respect to save 3000 bucks. On behalf of the cabin crew, good night, thank you, and we do hope your baggage hasn’t gone to Mombasa instead of Mumbai.