As a travel enthusiast, I always dreamed of flying in a comfortable airplane with a screen and a 3 X 3 seating layout. However, domestic flights in India usually offer cramped spaces and subpar air experience. Therefore, I was thrilled when I finally got the chance to embark on my first international flight from India to Finland with Air India.
Our route involved multiple stops, with flights from Hyderabad to Delhi, Delhi to Sweden, and Sweden to Helsinki. Although it was a more expensive option, we chose this airline for the generous check-in and cabin baggage allowances of 60 kg and 10 kg, respectively, which was significantly higher than other airlines flying to Finland from India. We had a lot of memorable and useful items to carry, so my family and I ended up bringing a lot of luggage, requiring three cars to transport it all to the airport.
The airport was located three hours from our home, so we had to factor in additional travel time and arrived at the airport three hours before our scheduled boarding time to avoid the massive crowds during the luggage drop-off.
Surprisingly, the luggage drop-off was smoother and quicker than expected, and we had three hours to spare before our flight. We spent our time eating and lounging by the gate until we heard the announcement that our flight was delayed by two hours. I wasn’t looking forward to the flight as I had already flown multiple times on this route, but to my surprise, even the domestic leg of the journey was a pleasant experience.
We were supposed to have a five-hour layover in Delhi airport, but due to the delay in Hyderabad, we only had two hours left when we arrived at the gate. To make matters worse, we received another announcement that our flight would be delayed by an additional four hours. However, I spent the six hours playing 8-ball pool and indulging in the complimentary lunch and refreshments.
Finally, the time had come for my first international flight, and I was worried about flying with Air India as many people had complained about their old fleet. However, we were lucky enough to board a new aircraft, and the entertainment system was excellent, with an array of movies to choose from. The food was also delightful, and I experienced a range of emotions, from happiness and excitement to sadness, during the long flight. We landed at Arlanda Airport in Sweden, but unfortunately, there was a massive line at immigration, and we had only one hour to catch our connecting flight.
Despite our efforts, we missed our flight, and we were stuck in Sweden for two days. We called Air India and argued with them for a long time to arrange another flight for us. Eventually, they provided us with a business-class hotel inside the airport, and they arranged for us to take another flight the next evening. Although the delay meant our trip was only a short two-day stay in Sweden, we had a fantastic time and enjoyed interacting with the locals.
We flew to Helsinki, and our three-day journey came to an end. The trip was unforgettable in every way, and I had an amazing experience flying with Air India. Although we faced a few challenges.