One lucky Emirates passenger had a private jet experience on a Boeing 777-300 when he found out that he was the only passenger booked on the flight from Mumbai to Dubai. The Emirates operated 777-300 normally has capacity for 360 passengers with eight enclosed First Class suites, 42 Business Class recliners and a whopping 310 seats in Economy Class.
Emirates has been banned from flying most passengers out of India since April 25 after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) imposed tough travel restrictions to keep out the B.1.617.2 COVID-19 variant which was first described in India and is partly responsible for a massive and deadly surge in new infections.
The UAE’s National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority recently extended the travel ban to June 14th but there are certain exemptions including UAE nationals, holders of a Golden Visa and members of diplomatic missions.
The lucky passenger didn’t share what category he fell into which allowed him to board the Emirates flight back to Dubai. In a video posted on Twitter, the man films himself being escorted through a near-empty Mumbai airport before being greeted at the aircraft door by a huddle of cabin crew who welcome him by breaking into applause.
The Captain then comes out of the flight deck to personally welcome the passenger onboard. “Usually I do a big PA (public address) announcing the flight details but seeing you are the only here onboard I’m going to give it to you (now),” the pilot tells the man.
It’s not known exactly when the man flew on Emirates flight EK501 which normally departs Mumbai at 4.30 am for the two and a half hour flight to Dubai.
Emirates hasn’t responded to a request for comment and sadly it looks like the passenger didn’t receive an upgrade and had to take his assigned seat in Economy.
The travel ban is likely to have a big impact on Emirates as India is usually one of the airline’s strongest markets. In the first quarter of 2021, India was the top country for passengers passing through Dubai International Airport, with New Delhi and Mumbai being the two top cities.
Emirates is, however, allowed to continue transporting passengers to India without any restrictions.