Andrew Alderson flies across India aboard 9W7143.

The plane:

A Boeing 737-800.

Class: Economy.

Price: $232.


Flight time: 2h 15m.

On time? Tick.

My seat: 10B. The omens weren't good as I peered down the plane. I spied a Barry White doppelganger, in looks and mass, asleep and overflowing into another seat. Yep, 10B. I knew my elbows were in for a scrap to reach an armrest armistice. If the guy seated on the other side of me had spoken English rather than Hindi we could've compared notes on our entry techniques. I know an aqualung would've been handy for me.

Fellow passengers: Difficult to see. Barry blocked them out like a solar eclipse. Then he started snoring as an orchestral version of Abba's Super Trouper played overhead before take-off. It was aural Armageddon.

The toilets: Couldn't test them.

The service: The staff took excellent care of me, once they spied me in the shadows.

How full: Chocka. Suffered a mild dose of moral rectitude that I had taken one for the team in my solitary confinement. In reality, I'd booked late so had no-one else to blame for my predicament.

Food and drink: Barry woke once on the flight, which coincided with the arrival of the food trolley. He gave a Donald Trump-like sniff and sat bolt upright. The stewardess asked him if he was "veg or non-veg?" He said "veg". She raised an eyebrow. I lied and also went with "veg" because they were offering a tasty-looking samosa and a KitKat. That was delicious with the cup of tea the stewardess delivered via a Sonny Bill Williams offload around Barry.


Entertainment: I turned my light on and did one of Graeme Wilson's outstanding North and South cryptic crosswords.

Luggage: Not much real estate here either. I accepted that my straw hat would probably end up looking like a half-eaten hay bale by flight's end. It survived.

The airport experience: Kolkata runs a smooth operation and the queues are minimal for a city of 14 million people. Your ticket is scrutinised at the door as a terrorism precaution, then your bag is X-rayed before check-in and security. Kolkata could use more food and shopping options, like those in state-of-the-art Mumbai.

Would I fly this again? I'm tempted to say "you're the first, the last, my everything" but yes, as in it was a case of needs-must and the claustrophobia wasn't the airline's fault.