Maharaja flies Swedish king, who’s down to earth in the air | India News

NEW DELHI: The king and queen of Sweden flew into the hearts of Indians by the Maharaja Air India from Stockholm to Delhi on Monday morning. It was a schedule commercial non-stop Air India flight. Their down-to-earth behaviour on board the plane, where King Carl XVI Gustaf Folke Hubertus relished Indian meal, and then carried his own cabin bags on alighting from the Dreamliner at IGI airport’s aerobridge endeared the royal couple to everyone.
The magic carpet flight started as a fairy tale on Sunday afternoon for the AI, which operates its twin class — business and economy — Boeing 787 Dreamliner between Delhi and Stockholm thrice a week. “Six hours before our schedule AI 168 was to take off from Stockholm at 8 pm Sunday (local time), our office there got a call from the Royal Palace. They wanted to make a tentative booking for 14 seats, four in business and 10 in economy,” said sources.
The reason: the official aircraft of the Swedish royal family had developed a snag. The king and queen Silvia Renate Sommerlath are learnt to have been keen on keeping their trip to India as per schedule.
The royal palace realised that an AI flight will be taking off from Stockholm for Delhi at 8 pm on Sunday (local time) which could fly the royal entourage to Delhi in time for their ceremonial welcome and other programmes lined up there.
The royal couple drove into Stockholm-Arlanda Airport and alighted at the base of the aerobridge on terminal building side. They boarded AI Dreamliner (VT-ANE) from there and were welcomed by all crew members. The business class has 18 seats in all with three rows of 2x2x2 configuration. The royal couple were seated on 1A and 1B. Their aides were seated on 2A and 2B. The flight was almost full with all 18 business and most of the 238 economy seats (in 3x3x3 configuration) taken.
The flight took off at its schedule time of 8 pm (local time Stockholm). During the flight, the royal couple floored the AI crew with their politeness and down-to-earth behaviour. “They did not act like they are special people, leave alone the king and queen of a country. They interacted with the crew very politely and were appreciative of the traditional Indian hospitality that AI crew is associated with. The king liked the Indian meal he had,” said sources.
On its approach into Delhi, the “VVIP” schedule flight was given fast descend and priority landing at 7.15 am (local time). Then a follow-me jeep escorted the aircraft with the lovable royal couple to T3 where all passengers alighted via an aerobridge. King Carl XVI Gustaf’s humility was again for all to see. He alighted from the aircraft carrying his cabin bags with him.
On arrival in Delhi, AI tweeted: “Very Proud moment of Air India when we had a Special Guest onboard. His Majesty Carl Gustaf Folke Hubertus, King of Sweden and Her Majesty Silvia Renate Sommerlath travelled AI168 Stockholm to Delhi. Sangeeta Sanyal, country manager Sweden, greeted the Royal guests.”
The royal Swedish aircraft is shortly expected in India to fly back the royal entourage back to their country at the end of their official visit. A crew member said: “There is so much Indian VIPs can learn from the Swedish king and queen. Our corporators, MLAs and MPs misbehave with us and routinely throw their weight around. It was a welcome change for the AI crew,” said a source.

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