Cedarjet From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 7808 posts, RR: 54 Posted (13 years 6 months 2 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 3964 times:
My girlfriend alwaus wanted to go to NY, and within a few days of havng the conversation, the Daily Express (not normally my chosen paper) had an offer: £99 return on Air-India! We booked up immediately, tickets arrived, which I promptly lost. I arranged TOD (Tickets On Departure) for the substitutes.
We arrived at Heathrow T3 in plenty of time but there was a holdup in having the tickets reissued. This left us amongst the last to check-in, and even though we were offered pre-assigned window seats, all we could get were an aisle seat and the one next to that on the middle section (D and E), at the rear of Zone D, in seats that wouldn't recline due to the bulkhead behind us. The check-in agent was the most sullen and unpleasant man it has ever been my misfortune to meet! Bastard!
Boarding was about twenty minutes late, and reasonably organised (done by rows). We got on and the interior of the aircraft - a 747-400 - was very pleasant, with ethnic patterns along the walls and brightly coloured seats. The aircraft was quite dirty on the outside but spotless on the inside. I went to the toilet, to find a big queue cos one of them had water all over the floor. I was wearing Buffalo Boots (which are like platforms) so I went anyway (it was only water, I checked). We finally pushed back forty minutes late, and the cabin crew (of which there seemed to be about 80) came around with OJ and water. After take-off into the scrubby cloud and light turbulence, the screens at the front of each cabin came to life with the Air Show, you know, moving maps, time to destination et al (during boarding they just said 'Welcome Aboard' and showed pictures of AI destinations). A printed menu was handed out and the choices included western, Indian and veggie options. I had the curry and it was AMAZING! After the meal they showed a Bollywood movie which was pretty funny (the subtitles were in English) - I woke up from a doze to see an Indian guy staring out of the screen, the subtitle reading, "How are you?" Well, great thanks!
Afternoon tea was a Samosa and more drinks, landing cards were distributed and then we were in the pattern, a few bumps in the air as we were on finals (I could just make out the inboard ailerons flapping like barn doors). The touchdown was the smoothest I have ever experienced, and we rolled out without any reverse thrust. The gate was a short walk from immigration. A near perfect flight (if only the damn seat had gone back). Window view would have been nice too.
Coming back two days later, we checked in with loads of time to spare at AI's dedicated area at the International Terminal at JFK, which is decorated with kitschy early 70s brass work on the wall and lots of tiles (great!), still didn't get a bloody window. My exhausted girlfriend left her tickets and passport at security, and an AI agent had found them and was coming our way as we headed back. The flight was another full house, and boarding was done quickly and efficiently. The nice lady in the window was going all the way to Bombay and let Sarah have the window (A) and I sat in B, while our displaced neighbour sat in C. After a shortish hold on the taxiway (saw Alitalia 747, Swissair MD11, AA and DL 767s) we were off, thundering out over Jamaica Bay and had a great view of Greater NY (couldn't make out Manhattan though). Take off roll was 47 seconds. I watched the Air Show moving map and got a bit freaked out as we circled and headed in strange directions (mostly west!). Was there a problem?
Eventually we headed northeast and crossed into Canada and began the Atlantic crossing. The dinner service was just as yummy as lunch had been a few days previously. Then another Bollywood movie started up as the lights went out. The sun came up a few hours later and Sarah took loads of photos and I filmed it with my video camera. Breakfast was a few bits of fruit and croissant, then we began a long descent. There were a few holds, all to the west of LHR with no remarkable scenary. Eventually we were on finals and landed on 9L, after a flight time of about six hours 15 mins (my record on the route is 5.15 includng one orbit over Biggin Hill on Virgin a few years back).
All in all a great airline, better than BA or any US carrier for sure. I had been warned by people who had never flown AI to watch out for pax pooing in the aisles or their seat, people fighting, trying to sleep in overhead lockers and food being inedible. This is all bullsh*t - the airline and it's passengers are just as civilised as any (much better-behaved clientele than on any British charter airline) and I wouldn't hesitate to fly them again. And each flight for £49 each way? Are you KIDDING? The best value I have ever experienced in the air! And the best curry I have ever experienced in the air OR on the ground!
fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
Avion From Bouvet Island, joined May 1999, 2205 posts, RR: 8 Reply 1, posted (13 years 6 months 2 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 3666 times:
A year ago id Zurich-New York on Pakistan. They advertised fares for 150$ economy return and $800 Business. So instead of going SR economy ZRH-NYC i decided to go for the same price Business on PIA. The service was impeccable and they had very nice tasting meals with funny names. All seats has PTVs. I took a look at economy and it wasn't that bad either. I say Pakistan is also very nice across the pond.
Tailscraper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 2, posted (13 years 6 months 2 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 3655 times:
That was indeed great value for money! You couldn't really get very far with £99rtn within the British Isles!! Glad to here the flight was pleasant, ditto the curry, which I also enjoy (ditto samosa's (veggie and meat!)), did you catch the name of the plane (if any)?
Would love to go to NYC, or the US full stop! The foreign carriers do pretty good deals out of LHR, such as Air India in your case, and KU, GF and probably a few others (PK?) Yes, I know what Bollywood is all about, having stayed in Mumbai for a week in Jan (travelled via DXB though, with EK). I never have any preconceptions about the pax. and their nationalities though; unfortunatly, this does not seem to be the case with some airlines' cabin crew (notably BA and EK), whom I have overheard making some rather nasty comments about pax. on-board the flight.
Glad you enjoyed the trip though, I expect you arrived back with slightly bulging suitcases though!
Wishihadalife From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 3, posted (13 years 6 months 2 weeks 5 days ago) and read 3658 times:
"The check-in agent was the most sullen and unpleasant man it has ever been my misfortune to meet! Bastard!"
Sounds like you bore the brunt of one of Chris Puri's bad days. Don't worry - all AI staff are not as bad as he sometimes gets (especially not at LHR where 90% of the staff actually know what Customer Service means).
By chance, do you remember the date of the flights or the name of the Captain or Inflight Supervisor? If you were in NYC for 2 days, you would have had the same crew on both sectors since they have a 48 hr layover there too. However, the actual commander might have been different since one pilot flies the Eastbound leg supernumerary as there is no need for a relief pilot on the shorter segment.
Cedarjet From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 7808 posts, RR: 54 Reply 6, posted (13 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 3626 times:
Flew out on March 29th, back 31st. And yes, we had the same cabin crew both ways (all 80 of them). Why 48 hour layovers? It's such a short flight, everyone else's crews come back the next day.
I got in big trouble with the missus actually, cos as we got on the aircraft at JFK I recognised the flight attendent welcoming us aboard. She was doing that thing where they put their hands together as in prayer and nod and smile. I was so amazed to that it was the same crew that I pointed at her and said (quite loudly) "I remember you!" Sarah scolded me all the way down the aisle to 64B&C (quite a long way): "She was trying to give you a blessing!" "No she wasn't, they always do that, it's a marketing thing, you know, mysteries of the east and all that." "No, she was trying to give you a blessing! And you interrupted!" "No I did not!" You get the idea. Anyway, lucky old Air-India crews, eh? Two days in New York every trip! And presumably two or three in London as well, each way?
Everyone else at Heathrow (except the aforementioned check-in guy) were fantastic, really friendly and helpful. He was so unhelpful and rude, VERY UNPROFESSIONAL.
Yes, of course I asked if I could visit the flightdeck. Unfortunately, AI (perhaps in the wake of the hijacking of Indian Airlines at Xmas) don't allow flightdeck visits.
Yes, we came back with suitcases bulging.
The offer has expired since we're into the busier season, but expect it back again in October and November, and if not then, definitely February and March, the quietest months of the year. By the way, after we booked, we were horrified to see that KLM were nearly doing the same offer! With two extra take-offs and landings! And maybe even a stopover in gorgeous Amsterdam! So good deals aren't that hard to find if you're willing to travel off-season (and who wants to be in NY in the height of summer anyway? all the psychiatrists go up state for two months so the place is full of crazy people, and it's a million degrees with 100% humidity and 0% O2).
Lauda777, why did my footwear cause you such distress (mine aren't that ugly anyway)?
fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
Wishihadalife From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 10, posted (13 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 3578 times:
AI used to operate with 24 hr layovers at LHR and JFK (the transatlantic segments were operated by crew based out of LHR), but the crew began to run into duty-time problems during the Gulf War when the BOM-LHR segments had to fly a Southern route over Africa that ran almost 12-13 hrs on a bad day with the 742 needing a refuelling stop in NBO.
Rather than delay flights regularly at LHR due to lack of crew, the decision was made to extend LHR layovers to 48 hrs, and JFK was also extended as a result to keep the crew movements in synch. When the 744s began to arrive in 1993, the 48 hour layover was written into the crew contract and has been law ever since.
It suits AI well because at any given time they now have between 6 and 10 sets of 744 crew at LHR, allowing tremendous flexibility in scheduling.
Finally, although the 48 hr layover seems to be cushy, it leads to horribly long trips away from base. The dreaded *triple shuttle* involved BOM-DEL-FRA-ORD-LHR-JFK-LHR-ORD-FRA-DEL-BOM with 48 hr layovers everywhere except DEL (16-24 hrs) and FRA inbound (28 hrs). The entire trip ran almost 3 weeks away from base.
Hmmmm... From Canada, joined May 1999, 2095 posts, RR: 5 Reply 14, posted (13 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 3540 times:
Well Cedarjet, I salute your courage in boarding Air India. You're one hell of a daredevil. Not so much for poo in the aisles, but for the fact that angry Sihks already blew up one Air India 747 on the transatlantic route. The scary part is, the Sihks are still angry. I think poo in the aisles must be a domestic flight thing.
I don't doubt the service was good. Asian cultures are always trying to bless you, thank you, or welcome you a hundred times a day. (Unless you anger them.) That part they got in the bag. But it was only fortunate that you like curry because I assume that's how the plane smelled. That alone could keep me well clear of AI. Sihks or no Sihks.
Congratulations. Air India was a gamble you won. But a cheap price like that is worrisome. How did they pay for the gas? Are you sure you went by plane? Or was it a rusty freighter via Calcutta?
BTW, is it true that your jet is made from cedar? If it is, don't paint it. Cedar doesn't take paint well. It will start to flake off in a year and paint chips will go into the jet intakes causing fod damage. Use stain instead.
An optimist robs himself of the joy of being pleasantly surprised
Wishihadalife From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 16, posted (13 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 3529 times:
AI has rights for 27 weekly frequencies between the US and the UK, with full cabotage on those flights in both directions. Additionally, they have rights to upto 35 weekly frequencies between the US and various European points (FRA, CDG, AMS and FCO). That is 62 services permitted between the EU and the USA. Quite a significant number, and a big reason that AI is being eyed by SQ. AI also has cabotage rights to/from Canada to the UK and to Germany.
Wishihadalife From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 18, posted (13 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 3506 times:
AI's rights have been grandfathered in from the multilateral agreements signed by the UK, US and India after World War II. In a modern application though, AI gets cabotage rights to the EU-US market and the US carriers get cabotage in the India-Europe markets that they use for their stopovers en route to India (DL uses FRA, NW uses AMS, UA used LHR). BA gets rights on a number of high-yield routes too such as DEL-AUH, DEL-HKG, BOM-PER, etc... SR had cabotage on BOM-BKK/HKG, etc...
Samurai 777 From Canada, joined Jan 2000, 2457 posts, RR: 5 Reply 20, posted (13 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 3492 times:
Holy cow! 158 pounds Sterling for a return ticket from LHR to JFK!? (sorry - being in Canada, my PC doesn't allow me to enter the UK pound sign, like Teahan can.) That's not bad at all for a ticket price!
Cedarjet, I sure hope you and your girlfriend enjoyed that trip greatly. Great trip report for sure! Even I like samosas. But I hope you don't lose your tickets or forget them the next time you fly!
Jaysit From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 21, posted (13 years 6 months 2 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 3440 times:
I flew the same route from JFK to LHR. I had a window seat near the exit so leg room was not a problem. They were showing a Bollywood film in one section and the usual hollywood fare in the others. I found the service excellent, the food much better than the nasty glop served on BA or AA (and no, the plane didn't smell of curry - I mean, does a United flight smell of mystery meat???), and although we left 20 mins late, we arrived 10 mins early. The plane was full, a few kids yowled upon take-off, but I saw the flight attendants trying their best to placate them. It seemed like the F/As really cared. Overall I would give them an A-, but only because they didnt have PTVs in coach.