NEW DELHI: The wait for a long flight to land could never have been more desperate than for passengers on board Air India's Delhi-Chicago nonstop on Saturday.
A Boeing 777 was released for the 16-hour journey with four toilets closed and the remaining eight others also packing up by the time it was a good two hours from the destination.
The condition of passengers on the aircraft - which had 324 adults and seven infants as passengers and 16 crew members - was understandably bad as the plane had taken off at 2am from Delhi.
A hearty breakfast, full meal and alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages were served during the course of the flight.
At first, there were long queues at the eight operational toilets. Soon, there were no queues as all lavatories became unusable. Hectic parleys went on between the cockpit and AI operations whether the flight should be diverted to Toronto, but they decided against it.
"The Boeing 777-300 (VTALJ) flew into Delhi from Hyderabad on Friday night... Since the aircraft was booked to take a full load of passengers to Chicago from Delhi and no alternate aircraft could be arranged at such short notice, it was felt that the eight servicable toilets will be enough," said a senior AI official.
"In Delhi we tried to clear the four toilets using nitrogen flushing. But the toilet pipes were choked with passengers flushing all kinds of stuff like plastic bottles and sanitary napkins. Opening up the system would have taken time," said an official.
What a disaster. Have not flown AI for a very long time. Stories like this just ensure that will not change.