Print from Airliners.net discussion forum
http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/trip_reports/read.main/219945/

Topic: Welcome To Air India, Your Palace In The Sky
Username: aeroblogger
Posted 2012-06-22 05:50:38 and read 14715 times.

Note: apologies for the awful photography - using a broken mobile phone's camera...

I promised to post an Air India trip report on another forum, and I figured I'd post it here as well so that those of you who have sworn off AI can see what you're missing:

Cut and Paste:

Since I was flying Air India from Hyderabad to Kolkata yesterday, I figured it would be as good of a time as ever to write up a report. And since I couldn't get to sleep last night, I found the time to write the report without sacrificing valuable vacation time as well.

The greatness of Hyderabad's airport is all taken for granted now that I'm living here. I barely notice the great access roads, the little conveniences which make such a big difference, or the beauty of the terminal anymore.

I arrive at the airport at approximately 9:30, for a 10:35 flight. Having forgotten my printout on the kitchen table, I go over to the AI airport office, where there is no line. I am quickly handed a printout of my itinerary with a smile. And for free. Jet Airways, please take note.

At 9:30, there is very little line for anything. No line for CISF officers checking printouts. No line for check-in desks. No line for security check. I love the airport when it's empty.

Check-in is a quick and painless affair. I hand over my printout. The check-in agent hands over a boarding pass. The best part was when he said, “Welcome to Air India, your palace in the sky.” Not “have a good flight,” the usual Air India line, or the grunt I usually get from SpiceJet agents. This little phrase shows clearly that even with all the tough times AI is going through, he still takes pride in his company. Normally, ground services are my least favorite part of AI. That doesn't apply today it seems.

I wander over to the gate, a bit early. I ask a gate agent standing at the desk what the loads are like.
“Executive Class is completely full, sir.”
“So many non-revs?” I ask in surprise.
“No sir, all 8 tickets are revenue tickets,.”
He gestures at the manifest sitting on the desk. I'm impressed – loads look to be good this flight.
“And what about economy?”
“There are 30 passengers, sir.”
Ouch. The aircraft is an A319 – which seats 108 passengers in Y. 30 passengers in economy is a 28% load factor. Not pretty. Even when you add in the J passengers, the load factor is 32%.
I look forward to getting a row to myself.
“Is it always like this?”
“No sir, usually on Monday and Friday this flight is full. Even for mid-week flight, this is very less passengers – usually there is at least 60 or 70.”
I sure hope he's right. This flight is surely losing lots of money today – if it happens every day, this flight definitely won't last.

It's a fairly routine day at HYD – apart from a lone SpiceJet cancellation, everything is running on time.

http://aeroblogger.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/IMG_0615.jpg
At 10:05 sharp, boarding begins. By 10:15, everybody has boarded. On my way down the jetbridge, I catch a picture of the aircraft, VT-SCH. She's a newer A319 in Air India's fleet.
http://aeroblogger.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/IMG_0616.jpg

The purser is standing at the entrance of the aircraft greeting passengers with a Namaste. The first thing I notice as I enter the economy cabin is the PTVs at every seat – I'm excited to check out AI's Thales i3000 system.
http://aeroblogger.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/IMG_0642.jpg


The cabin is looking nice and clean, but sadly empty.
http://aeroblogger.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/IMG_0622.jpg


For some reason, every seat is in a fully reclined position – FAs go through the cabin putting the seats to upright position.

Pushback happens at 10:20, 15 minutes before scheduled departure. Everybody is on board – there is no point in waiting.

The PTVs show a safety video I've never seen before.
http://aeroblogger.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/IMG_0623.jpg

I took a video of it as well – if you'd like, I can upload... You can probably find it somewhere on the web...

I look over the Safety card:
http://aeroblogger.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/IMG_0619.jpg
The in-flight magazine for this month's cover is Ladakh, an area which is supposed to be very beautiful. I'd love to visit:
http://aeroblogger.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/IMG_0620.jpg
Complimentary headphones are provided:
http://aeroblogger.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/IMG_0643.jpg

The IFE is incredibly impressive for a 2 hour flight.
There is a moving map:
http://aeroblogger.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/IMG_0629.jpg

Recent Hindi movie Jannat 2 (with English Subtitles):
http://aeroblogger.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/IMG_0631.jpg

Older Hindi movie, Adalat, also with English subs:
http://aeroblogger.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/IMG_0632.jpg

Hollywood picture Independence Day:
http://aeroblogger.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/IMG_0633.jpg


Lapataganj – Hai Khabar Garam Unke:
http://aeroblogger.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/IMG_0634.jpg

And a channel of Bollywood Music Videos (Mujhko Teri Zaroorat Hai – Jodi Breakers in this picture):
http://aeroblogger.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/IMG_0635.jpg


In addition, there are 12 audio channels available with various different programming.

The controls for the IFE is very convenient and intuitive:
http://aeroblogger.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/IMG_0630.jpg


After takeoff, the meal is served:
http://aeroblogger.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/IMG_0636.jpg
I'm going to miss this like crazy when I go back to the USA in August.

Samosa, Chole, Sandwich, Water, and Jalebi for dessert. Yum.

I polish it all off:
http://aeroblogger.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/IMG_0638.jpg
The meal also comes with a coupon booklet:
http://aeroblogger.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/IMG_0637.jpg
A nice way to try to go after sales in the air.

Midflight, I notice to my amusement that the seats have inbuilt coat hangers:
http://aeroblogger.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/IMG_0640.jpg

They really have thought of everything 

Flight attendants come through the cabin every 20 minutes offering water bottles to passengers.

As we departed early, we also arrive early. It is almost disappointing to have reached my destination – for the 2 hours that I was in the air, AI was truly my palace in the sky.

Topic: RE: Welcome To Air India, Your Palace In The Sky
Username: aeroblogger
Posted 2012-06-22 05:50:54 and read 14715 times.

Now that I've finished the trip report, some comments about this flight:
This flight was above average. That wasn't by design – I had planned to make a trip report out of this flight in advance, and AI chose a good time to deliver a great flight.
It was above average in a few ways:

  • It had the Thales i3000 IFE system, which sadly isn't fleetwide
  • The flight had a light load. On my usual route (AI 517/518 HYD-PNQ-HYD), I'd be extremely lucky to get a free middle seat next to me, forget my own row.
  • I didn't have to deal with rude AI/Airport/CISF (security check) employees. HYD is a great facility, but I've dealt with far too many rude and unhelpful employees at the airport. Usually, they aren't AI employees, but it still reflects badly in the flight


Assuming the incredibly low load was normal, AI needs to seriously rethink continuing service on this route. However, maybe the gate agent was right and this was an unusually low load... I trust AI to do their job of route planning – I'll just enjoy my flight  

Topic: RE: Welcome To Air India, Your Palace In The Sky
Username: JOYA380B747
Posted 2012-06-22 06:56:47 and read 14369 times.

Interesting read there!

I was looking for any update you had on the CCU terminal readiness.... anything?

Topic: RE: Welcome To Air India, Your Palace In The Sky
Username: aeroblogger
Posted 2012-06-22 10:16:58 and read 13555 times.

Quoting JOYA380B747 (Reply 2):
Interesting read there!

I was looking for any update you had on the CCU terminal readiness.... anything?

Lots of construction.

I didn't get a great look - it was pouring. When I go back Monday, I'll try to take a closer look.

Topic: RE: Welcome To Air India, Your Palace In The Sky
Username: MHTripple7
Posted 2012-06-22 16:58:55 and read 12613 times.

Hey aeroblogger, thanks for this report.

I agree that AI offers a great experience from the passenger's point of view. I flew JFK-DEL-JFK (AI 102/101) a few years ago, and it was one of the best flights I've taken. Sure AI isn't as polished as 9W, but the genuine service I received was top-notch.

AI's management, however, is full of a bunch of idiots. Don't even get me started, but that's a whole different subject.

Quoting aeroblogger (Thread starter):
“Welcome to Air India, your palace in the sky.”

Assuming he wasn't being sarcastic, that's a really nice to thing to hear.

Quoting aeroblogger (Thread starter):
Even when you add in the J passengers, the load factor is 32%.

That's abysmal. Wow.

Quoting aeroblogger (Thread starter):
The first thing I notice as I enter the economy cabin is the PTVs at every seat – I'm excited to check out AI's Thales i3000 system.

How many of AI's narrowbodies are still flying around without PTVs? The old IC Airbuses never had them, correct?

Quoting aeroblogger (Thread starter):
For some reason, every seat is in a fully reclined position – FAs go through the cabin putting the seats to upright position.

That's rather strange, maybe they were testing all of the seats to make sure they could recline?

Quoting aeroblogger (Thread starter):
The in-flight magazine for this month's cover is Ladakh, an area which is supposed to be very beautiful. I'd love to visit:

I've heard about that place, I too would like to visit. Maybe someday.

Thank you for sharing!

Topic: RE: Welcome To Air India, Your Palace In The Sky
Username: aeroblogger
Posted 2012-06-22 19:55:32 and read 12276 times.

Quoting MHTripple7 (Reply 4):
How many of AI's narrowbodies are still flying around without PTVs? The old IC Airbuses never had them, correct?

I'm not sure - I have to look that up...

But the old IC airbii definitely never had them - I've only seen it on the newer aircraft I've flown on. Sadly,

Quoting MHTripple7 (Reply 4):
That's rather strange, maybe they were testing all of the seats to make sure they could recline?

Yeah, I'm thinking that reclining them all was probably done by maintenance.

Quoting MHTripple7 (Reply 4):
That's abysmal. Wow.

It's my first flight on any airline (including my 50+ segments onAI) with less than a 50% LF. I've never had 6 seats to myself before. I must admit, the cabin felt really spacious 

Topic: RE: Welcome To Air India, Your Palace In The Sky
Username: MSS658
Posted 2012-06-23 08:49:09 and read 11335 times.

Hi

Great report, it seems that AI is catching up with its competitores Jet Airways and Kingfisher.
Nice to see you got decent IFE and meal. Something which you won't see that much in Europe or N. America


Greetings
MArc

Topic: RE: Welcome To Air India, Your Palace In The Sky
Username: The777Man
Posted 2012-06-23 12:29:33 and read 10962 times.

Hi Aeroblogger!

Very impressive of AI especially for such a short flight. I had an amazing flight on AI JFK-BOM about five years ago on their then very new 77L. One of the best I've ever had in Y and BETTER than my 9W flight BOM-LHR on their then new 77W.

I'm hopefully going to India in October so looing forward to that.

It would be great to see more reports from you on other airlines to compare.

The777Man

Topic: RE: Welcome To Air India, Your Palace In The Sky
Username: abrelosojos
Posted 2012-06-23 12:55:22 and read 10898 times.

Thanks for the report. I have always found domestic AI (IC) to be better than AI.

Saludos,
A.

Topic: RE: Welcome To Air India, Your Palace In The Sky
Username: aeroblogger
Posted 2012-06-24 11:51:15 and read 10117 times.

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 6):
Great report, it seems that AI is catching up with its competitores Jet Airways and Kingfisher.

Domestic AI (IC)'s product has been this way for the last 4 or 5 years now... This is a case of 9W and IT getting far worse, not AI getting any better.

Topic: RE: Welcome To Air India, Your Palace In The Sky
Username: flightsimboy
Posted 2012-06-24 17:36:54 and read 9845 times.

Quoting aeroblogger (Thread starter):
I'm going to miss this like crazy when I go back to the USA in August.

Samosa, Chole, Sandwich, Water, and Jalebi for dessert. Yum.

I polish it all off:

Did you not make it a Samosa Chaat lol....Also you didn't really seem to polish it all off...lots of chole still left lol...unless it was polished after you took the pic!

Quoting aeroblogger (Thread starter):
Flight attendants come through the cabin every 20 minutes offering water bottles to passengers.

Bottles of water every 20 minutes....must have been very thirsty passengers on board  

Topic: RE: Welcome To Air India, Your Palace In The Sky
Username: aeroblogger
Posted 2012-06-24 20:12:05 and read 9703 times.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 10):
Did you not make it a Samosa Chaat lol....Also you didn't really seem to polish it all off...lots of chole still left lol...unless it was polished after you took the pic!

Yeah, that was the last pic I took of the meal. I realized when I was writing this report that there was no pic of the container empty  
Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 10):
Bottles of water every 20 minutes....must have been very thirsty passengers on board

Nah - they brought through 5 or 6 bottles every 20 minutes, and by the end of the flight, everybody had a bottle (at the time they wanted it).

Topic: RE: Welcome To Air India, Your Palace In The Sky
Username: Mortyman
Posted 2012-06-25 10:36:27 and read 9004 times.

Thanx for this report  
Quoting aeroblogger (Thread starter):
Midflight, I notice to my amusement that the seats have inbuilt coat hangers

Nothing new. You have'nt seen that before ?

Topic: RE: Welcome To Air India, Your Palace In The Sky
Username: aeroblogger
Posted 2012-06-25 11:12:56 and read 8938 times.

Quoting Mortyman (Reply 12):
Nothing new. You have'nt seen that before ?

I went back through some of my older pictures on other aircraft, and I realized that most aircraft do indeed have coat hangars. I never noticed.

Has anybody ever seen somebody actually hang a coat on the hangar?


The messages in this discussion express the views of the author of the message, not necessarily the views of Airliners.net or any entity associated with Airliners.net.

Copyright © Lundgren Aerospace. All rights reserved.
http://www.airliners.net/