You realise you’re in a Pakistani flight when…

Published: August 1, 2014

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan turns into a whole new country in the air. One beer or one glass of whiskey just doesn’t suffice. PHOTO: AFP

The sky is dark and you’re airborne, eyes transfixed on the entertainment system. Suddenly the plane takes a gravitational drop downwards, and then picks itself up a second later. The lights in the airplane go up, and the seatbelt sign appears.

The flight attendant, passing through the plane, requests all passengers to remain seated, pull up their seats in an upright position and avoid heading to the lavatory for a few seconds.

Most of the passengers follow none of these instructions.

Welcome to an international flight carrying Pakistani passengers.

Air travel isn’t the most comfortable thing in the flight, especially over long distances, unless of course you’re travelling via Business or First Class. The limited comfort the seats are capable of wears away after a little while and you spend the rest of your flight counting the minutes till you land. After all these factors are combined, the last thing you want is a restless set of passengers. If you’re in a flight with a large proportion of Pakistanis, chances are that you’re in for a flight you’ll never forget.

The cabin crew is there to assist you and make you feel comfortable at all times. But you pity them every time they’re in a flight where the Pakistani passports outnumber all other passports. If the flight is heading from or to international locations other than the Middle East then may God be with you. But if the flight is heading from or to the Middle East, then may God, his angels, and the devil be with you!

The Middle East seems to have a profound effect on our civic sense. Most of it is already gone by the time we land there, and we make it a point to dump whatever is left in us by the time we head back to Pakistan. Simple instructions seem to be beyond the Pakistani traveller.

You realise you’re in a Pakistani flight when upon entering the plane, the first thing you witness is the chaos created by the seat numbers on the boarding pass. Never has there been a Pakistani flight in recorded history where two passengers have not argued over who is the rightful owner of the window seat. Once that argument is settled, the flight is home to a whole new dimension of Pakistani-isms, because now we are airborne we let go of everything, literally. Because this is an international flight, what attracts us most is the availability of alcohol. The Islamic Republic of Pakistan turns into a whole new country in the air. One beer or one glass of whiskey just doesn’t suffice. We are in alcohol heaven, and we make it a point to replace the blood in our veins with various kinds of spirits.

After the alcohol binge is over, it is time to hit the washrooms. The cabin crew can beg, the cabin crew can plead, but we make it a point to leave our seats and head to the lavatory no matter how much turbulence the plane goes through. We obtained independence in 1947 and we prove that in airplanes by doing what we want. The line outside the lavatory is huge, it’s almost like they are giving out free candies in there.  Once we have used the lavatory in a manner that makes it unusable for the next person, we head back to our seat, all set for a nap.

We try to sleep for a little while, but that doesn’t help. So we turn on the entertainment system, and look for our favourite Bollywood movie, the lack of which bothers us to a great extent. We call a member of the cabin crew over to argue, as he or she looks on with a forced smile, finally managing to muster the sense and energy to apologise to you and promising to notify the management of this catastrophic shortcoming in the plane’s entertainment system. Should this be a flight where you have to pay for meals and drinks on the plane, the Pakistani reaction will be even scarier.

Finally, it is time for the announcement you’ve been waiting for all this time: the plane is going to land in a little while. A little moment after the tyres squeal on the runway and the plane starts to slow down, you are asked to remain seated and not turn on your cell phones yet.

What do you do if you’re a Pakistani?

You throw your blanket on the floor, get up in a moving plane to take out your luggage from the overhead compartment, turn on your cell phone and inform your family that you have landed.

As PIA proudly says; Great people to fly with. They, however, speak of their crew, not the majority of their passengers.

salman Zafar

Salman Zafar

The writer works in the Education Sector and tweets as @salmanzafar1985 (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.