On board Air India 24 World Champions: Experiencing taste of victory in 16-hour special flight

Indian cricket team captain Rohit Sharma with teammate Suryakumar Yadav aboard a charter flight to New Delhi. Indian cricket team on Thursday returned home after winning the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024 in Barbados.
Indian cricket team captain Rohit Sharma with teammate Suryakumar Yadav aboard a charter flight to New Delhi. Indian cricket team on Thursday returned home after winning the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024 in Barbados.

On Board AIC24WC | In probably the first ever direct flight Barbados to India, a 14,000 km journey half way across the world, memories were made for a lifetime.

After an anxious wait and multiple delays, the special Air India charter touched down at the Grantley Adams International Airport around 2 am local time on Wednesday following a four-hour flight New York to carry the victorious Indian cricket team back home all the way to Delhi.

Such a flight path had not been created before as no direct connections exist between Asia and the Caribbean, let alone India and the laidback island of Barbados.

However, with a Category 4 'Hurricane Beryl' hitting the region a day before and another one expected couple of days later, desperate measures were needed to rescue the players and support staff.

Stranded members of players' families, travelling Indian media, broadcast crew and a super fan were also accommodated on the long range wide-body Boeing 777 which had completed a scheduled Air India flight from Delhi to Newark before reaching Barbados.

"I have not seen a bigger plane land here," said a ground official at Grantley Adams.

A special call sign of AI24WC was created in honour of the triumphant team, making the flight one of the most searched on the internet.

At 4 am local time, the players and support staff boarded the aircraft marking the start of extended celebrations through the next 16 hours. Up

Indian cricket team captain Rohit Sharma aboard a charter flight to New Delhi. Indian cricket team on Thursday returned home after winning the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024 in Barbados.
Indian cricket team captain Rohit Sharma aboard a charter flight to New Delhi. Indian cricket team on Thursday returned home after winning the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024 in Barbados.

till now, the players were confined to their beach resort after pulling off a sensational win over South Africa in the final on Saturday.

They were finally heading home after a 13-year drought ending victory in ICC finals and the eagerness to celebrate the triumph with the nation could be seen on their faces.

The lesser mortals in the flight were also made part of the victory celebrations with all of them getting to a pose with the World Cup trophy.

Due to limited business class seats, all the players, support staff and BCCI officials could not be accommodated in the premium cabin but that was hardly an issue.

It is not usually the case on commercial flights but here, the economy class section, which had a lot more seats than business class and premier economy, was the most sought after space on the aircraft.

The economy class was not even half full and that allowed the passengers and a few players to make flat beds outside the business class for a much needed sleep on a long-haul flight.

Head coach Rahul Dravid, Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant, Mohammed Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah, Axar Patel and Ravindra Jadeja came to the back of the plane to interact with travelling media and other excited bunch of passengers.

Captain Rohit Sharma, like he led from the front on the field throughout the competition, was also the leader on the flight when it came to making everyone feel at home including the star struck flight crew.

"Did you guys eat something?" he inquired besides taking out time for conversations and selfies.

The team members could seen enjoying each other's company for the entire duration of the flight. The same camaraderie that was also visible on the field through the last month in the USA and Caribbean, leading them to glory.

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