The day Air India began flying its newly acquired Dreamliners commercially held two surprises for unsuspecting passengers: Chocolates and a small memento, and a two-hour wait in the aircraft without air conditioning.
The new aircraft developed a technical snag right before it was to take off for its second trip of the day.
Around 170 people were already seated in the aircraft when the pilot-in-command found that its cooling system was not working. The flight was scheduled to leave for Bangalore at 4.30pm but left only at 6.35pm.
“The boarding had started around 3.30pm. After taking their boarding passes, the passengers started proceeding towards the plane. When all the passengers were seated, the pilot announced that because of a technical snag, they would have to wait for the take-off. The flight finally took off after a two-hour delay,” a staff member, who did not want to be named, said.
An Air India spokesperson, while confirming the incident, said there was some problem with the cooling system but engineers rectified it.
“After the pilot informed us that the cooling system had malfunctioned, a team of engineers was summoned and they inspected the plane. As the aircraft was only recently inducted, it took them time to understand the problem,” an Air India official, requesting anonymity, said.
Sources said because the plane was lined up for take-off, the passengers were asked to remain seated till the problem was fixed. “De-boarding would have led to delay. The flight took off after the snag was rectified,” the officer further said.
Air India had announced that it would start commercial operations of the Dreamliner on Wednesday.
The first fight from Delhi took off on schedule at 7.10am amid cheers from the 116 passengers on board. Passengers were given rose buds and special south India meals. On landing in Chennai, the aircraft was greeted with water cannons. Later, a coconut was broken by the commander.
The return flight from Chennai to Delhi was also on time and lunch was served to all the passengers. Passengers from both boarding points were also given chocolates and a small memento to mark the occasion. The flight landed at Delhi at 1.30pm.
Sources said that the problem arose during the second flight, which was scheduled at 4.30pm.