The Mystery behind the metal and plastic cutlery.

(Originally written in May 2008)

Finally, I am on the plane to India. It is a long-time dream come true, and I have managed to tame my desire to visit the whole of India within the three weeks I have.

One of the biggest issues to consider when planning for such a trip is the choice of carrier. I was very tempted to either Emirates or Ethihad, as it would allow me to fly via the Gulf. I had heard they were using the new A380 and I wanted to try that out. But I wanted to fly into Mumbai and fly out of Chennai, and the easiest was Jet Airways. And it was the cheapest too.

But I had my misgivings. Jet Airways is a relatively new privately-owned airlines from India, without the benefit of a long history and government money.

I booked the flight through them anyway, and soon my first doubt arose – when I saw the ticket: I had assumed they would be using the wide-bodied 747 for the Brussels-Mumbai flight. But they were using a smaller aircraft. It is going to be a long flight.

However, once I took my seat inside the plane, I was a little relieved a little bit. It was a newer Airbus with each seat having its own mini-TV screen. And then they gave a ‘little gift’ – a mini tooth brush with a toothpaste tube and an eye-cover, all encased in quite an elegant plastic case.

Once the aircraft started, we were given the usual dinner, and I could not suppress my surprise when I saw they were dishing out real napkins, followed by ‘real’ cutlery. I mean real, not paper napkins and plastic cutlery. And the choice of entertainment was huge – from Hindi and other Indian language movies to Hollywood movies and documentaries.

The Brussels-Mumbai leg of the tour was also done in a fairly new aircraft with even more leg room. And I realized that with the flying time almost same as Toronto-Brussels, there was really no need for a 747.

The flight turned a little sour when I was cheated of my non-veg lunch as they had run out of it, and instead got a vegetarian dish. It did taste well, but not quite like the unsavoured non-veg dish. And I was given Stella while I had asked for Tiger Beer.

From Mumbai I flew on a turbo-prop to Ahmedabad. It was also a new plane and believe me, we were given a snack, which consisted of almost fresh-tasting lime juice, sandwich, bun and a delicious potato curry. At four in the morning!

Throughout the flights, I should say the service was excellent.

And I am really impressed that a relatively new kid on the block could create such a vast system to implement their global ambitions. Kudos to them.

And now to the mystery: on the Toronto-Brussels flight the cutlery was metal while on the Brussels-Mumbai flight it was plastic (and paper napkins). I thought that may be because the first flight was a code-share with Air Canada, Jet Airways wanted to impress. But the Mumbai-Ahmedabad flight had metal cutlery.

May be Jet Airways could explain the reason for this seemingly confusing display of service.

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