It's the most common of sights. As aeroplanes skid to a stop as they land, passengers invariably ignore the still glowing 'fasten seatbelts' sign and make a beeline for the exit, each one determined to be the first one out of the aircraft, as if there's a prize waiting for them at the end.
Last evening then saw the most uncommon of sights. As a flight from Chennai landed in New Delhi airport, every passenger onboard actually waited instead of making a mad dash to deplane. There was no pushing, shoving, or stubbed toes. The reason? The parents of an Indian hero were onboard.
Even as the nation gears up to welcome back the Indian Air Force's Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman at the Waga border, three days after his MiG-21 Bison was shot down in Pakistan and he was captured by that country's military, his parents made their way to New Delhi, en route to Amritsar, to be there for the happy occasion.
When passengers sharing the flight with them realised who they were, not only did everyone wait at their seats to allow them to deplane first, the proud parents were cheered on with a standing ovation and a chorus of gratitude. People tweeted videos of the same.
The IAF pilot was taken into custody by Pakistan on Wednesday after he landed on the other side of the Line of Control as his aircraft crashed during an aerial dogfight between India and Pakistan.
Government sources said a team of Indian Air Force officials will receive Wing Commander Abhinandan at the Wagah border on Friday evening. The parents of the Wing Commander had arrived in Delhi on Thursday night and will go to Amritsar to welcome him.
Abhinandan is the son of Air Marshal (Retd) Varthaman. His mother, Dr Shobha Varthaman, worked with Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières), and has treated patients in conflict zero before self. The motto of the Varthaman family seems to be ' service before self' and the nation and world are all the better for it.