Abrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5145 posts, RR: 54 Posted (7 years 8 months 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 21356 times:
Feedback always appreciated.
Trip Report: 036
Flight Category: Y-DSR (See Report End)
SDT/SAT/Delay: 0415/0530/01:15 hrs
Flight: Air India/NACIL: op. by Air India AI 601, 385 miles
Seat: Economy Class, 19A
I > Background:
Ok, I am back! After taking a sabbatical from trip reports for 5 months, here is the first installation from a series of trip reports. Mid-August to mid-November 2007 saw the craziest of my travel plans. 69 flights totalling 175,028 kms on 35 airlines, visiting 49 airports in 34 countries in all 6 continents. And, here is the best part â€¦ all of them were part of a 4 month break from life â€¦ pure vacation, and pure food for the mind, body, and soul. Together, they mounted to 21/2 round-the-worlds that was truly insane. As usual, all long haul flights were on Business or First Class; short haul was on Economy Class.
I believe this will be the first TR on a AI domestic flight, and perhaps the first for HYD-BOM. Preliminary A.Net searches indicate the same. Reason for flying was that I had never flown Air India internally in India, and thought it would be a good time to fly the airline before it undergoes â€œradicalâ€ transformation as one NACIL entity. Moreover, I wanted to fly the A313 one last time with AI. These aircrafts had formed the backbone of AIâ€™s fleet for a long time, and I am afraid that they will soon be retired as more 320â€™s and 738â€™s of the merged entity comes in.
II > Pre-Flight:
a) Before Airport:
I could have booked online using Air Indiaâ€™s booking system at www.airindia.in . However, I really wanted paper tickets â€¦ so after calling the toll-free number and making the reservation, I went to the AI-WHQ in Bombay and picked up my paper ticket. I am SO going to miss paper tickets. The woman wanted to issue me an e-ticket and was super confused when I insisted on a paper ticket. LOL. One thing that annoyed me is that you cannot pre-assign seats on domestic flights through counter, phone, or internet. Why?
b) At Airport:
India is the only country in the world where domestic terminals are markedly better than international ones. Perhaps itâ€™s noble pursuits and democratic pressures to look after local populace over creating an impression for the foreigner â€¦ who knows â€¦ but the difference between the domestic and international terminals at Hyderabad is heaven and hell. Ok, maybe not heaven â€¦ but definitely better than hell. This difference between domestic and international is also true at CCU, DEL, BOM, MAA, etc. Anyway, HYD domestic is calm and collected â€¦ however, as I was flying AI, I had to make way to the international wing at HYD and pure chaos. Seriously, I would like to consider myself well travelled in India, but HYD took the cake â€¦ and there was only ONE other international flight at that point. EK to DXB.
So after pushing my way through the crowds of well-wishers, my ticket was checked by the security agent at the entrance, and I made it to the AI counter. Check-in was surprisingly smooth and all the Indian men giggled as they thought it was funny that this Gringo was flying AI domestically. I was told by the agent that I was the â€œonly one today not flying internationallyâ€ as he enthusiastically put my LH M&M number into the reservation â€¦ and voila, it was on the boarding pass. After check-in, I explored the â€œterminalâ€ and met this Singaporean guy (Mr. Chu) at this snack counter. I made the mistake of responding to his small talk â€¦ and God was he obnoxious. He went on this 10 minute tirade on how â€œHyderabad is unlike Singaporeâ€ (DUH) and how everything is â€œso much betterâ€ and â€œso much more efficient.â€ I mean seriously A.Netters. People like this need to not travel â€¦ oh, and this was his 4th business trip to India?! Anyway, so on the 14th minute of the conversation, he said for the 4th time (yes, I counted) how â€œIndia is so different than Singaporeâ€. In my most dead-pan face, I said, â€œYa. It is a democracy. Singapore isnâ€™t.â€ LOL. I felt mean â€¦ but it totally shut him up. Thank God most Singaporeans are unlike Mr. Chu. Anyway, after bidding adieu to Mr. Chu, my boarding pass was checked and I went to the immigration line â€¦ but I wondered why I should be on this line â€¦ so I kinda just ignored the immigration counters and proceeded to security. The Immigration officer didnâ€™t even bother looking â€¦ now, at the Security I was told that I had to wait for this one dude who would come and do a â€œCustoms Clearanceâ€ where I had to declare any large sum of money. As much as I absolutely adore India, some things make no sense â€¦ but make me laugh. So since I was the only passenger, I waited for like 45minutes before this AAI â€œbabuâ€ came and asked me all these customs questions, stamped my boarding pass, and then let me go. One thing to keep in mind â€¦ all the security agents were super nice to me â€¦ and one felt sorry and offered to buy me tea . YAY. This is why I love the place.
So after clearing security, I went to the boarding area where both AI and EK flights were called at the same time from a tiny door. Uugh. There was much pushing and shoving in keeping with the spirit of ILBST. Actually, this was on the bad side â€¦ compounded by a super aggressive EK agent who was keep on ensuring his flight took on time. Uugh again. Anyway, after all the crap, I walked onto the 310 and back to mid 1980s. As I made my way to my seat, I was awestruck by the interiors and the overall retro feel. Load in J was 20%, and Y load must have been around 60%.
Airport - External:
(HYD Domestic â€“ looks decent)
(HYD International â€“ super â€œIADSâ€)
(Very Indian external departure board)
(Ok, people â€¦ go home â€¦ nothing to see here)
Airport - Internal:
Scenes of the tarmac:
(Boarding area lounge)
(Mad ILBST â€“ people, how do you have this energy at 4am?!)
a) Service Schedule + Impressions:
Juice service prior to take-off. Snack service soon after take-off.
b) Aircraft + Seats:
This particular 310 came from SQ. As always, the best place to check lineage is the lavatory, and this aircraft was no different. The entire aircraft felt old with some non-essential pieces literally being duck-taped! The seats were old, worn, and certainly needing replacement. Moreover, the blanket (though in a sealed pouch) had the nastiest smell EVER! Gross. Thankfully, the lavs and the overall aircraft was clean and the aircraft did not rattle too much â€¦ which was surprising â€¦ but then again, the A310 is a very well made aircraft and I will miss them (with their distinct flap fairings and â€œchubbyâ€ fuselage) as they start being retired.
While worn out, the seats were comfortable and had had generous pitch, and slightly above average legroom. As most people slept, I began to have much random thoughts â€¦ like imagining all the people who possibly could have sat at the exact seat during the life of the aircraft. Ok, I digress.
(Taken at BOM â€“ I really am a fan of the now erstwhile AI logo. Simple and classic.)
Views from Aircraft:
Seat Recline + Angle View:
(Look at those bulk-head buttons)
(I love how LAVS give away lineage and pedigree )
c) Meal + Beverage:
Upon embarkation, crew did a run of either water or packaged fruit juice. After take-off, was a pre-packaged meal sandwich which comprised of a cheese sandwich, a vegetable sandwich, and a weird dessert. While I appreciated the gestures at the ungodly 0415am departure, the food itself was absolutely horrible. The sandwiches were barely edible, and the dessert was just horrible. I had no idea what it was â€“ it was hard and sweet. Yuck.
(4,30am sandwich + more â€¦ nasty though)
d) Inflight Entertainment:
IFE using old antiquated overhead system comprised of the â€œJust For Laughsâ€ serious â€¦ which I am convinced is Canadaâ€™s single greatest contribution to aviation. In-flight magazine was of good quality.
(IFE Controls â€“ falling apart?)
(Headphones + super dirty and smelly blanket)
(In-flight magazines, Boarding Passes, etc. â€“ I LOVE the dot matrix boarding passes!)
Ok. While I absolutely adore IC crew, I found their counterpart AI crew to be lacking charm and smiles. I understand it was an early morning departure, but the crew was missing for most of the flight. Is this India? Or is this an Air France flight?! They were nowhere to be seen during passenger embarkation, and nowhere during disembarkation. The meal service was done devoid of anything human. I went back to express my interest about the 310 to be met by blank stares and a non-verbal request to be left alone. There was one guy who came by later to say â€¦ â€œlet me know if you need anythingâ€ â€¦ â€œexcept alcohol unfortunately. It is domestic after allâ€. LOL. Not good overall impression at all.
All passengers except me were connecting internationally, so I made my way through lonely corridors to the exit. At immigration, there was another small arrow telling me to bypass the counter. Of course, my boarding card was checked at exit.
(Aircraft next to us at BOM)
(CSIA Arrivals â€“ along the long walk to the exit)
V> Impressions + Scores:
While AI might have got a fantastic new livery, and their 777â€™s do indeed rock, I found them to be many notches below IC on domestic India flights. IC crews seem to care much more about their jobs. Perhaps because it was a domestic segment, the AI crew seem to not care. I was disappointed at the dirty state of the blankets and the poor IFE as well. Given Indiaâ€™s super competitive airline industry, I cannot enthusiastically endorse AI as the first choice.
DALCE From Netherlands, joined Feb 2007, 1856 posts, RR: 6
Reply 4, posted (7 years 8 months 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 21134 times:
They sure have a lot of work to do with upgrading their product. Most probably the 310 will be phased out soon and isn't worth a refurbishment of the interior.
Great read with some very nice shots! Thanks for sharing!
DCAjet From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 554 posts, RR: 4
Reply 8, posted (7 years 8 months 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 20691 times:
Excellent report, comme d'habitude.
Those A310s are in a sad state. AR was going to lease two this past summer to supplement the 310 fleet - don't have the registrations and C/Ns with me here, both were ex SQ, ex AI. Such was the sorry state of affairs with them, that the whole operation was called off upon closer inspection of the frames. Sad, but they required such a large investment on AR's part that it was just not worth it as interim measure until the A330s begin to arrive later this year. One of them is still parked somewhere in Germany.
One of the things that come to mind about the many issues with those planes was, in line with your report, the Audio/Video system. Working randomly at best, and inop most of the other times - and no spare parts on the market anymore, as they are no longer manufactured! Certainly AI got their money's worth out of those airframes!
Regards from DC,
"Unattended children will be given espresso and a free kitten"
Ryanair!!! From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 4782 posts, RR: 24
Reply 9, posted (7 years 8 months 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 20596 times:
Quoting Abrelosojos (Thread starter): ...met this Singaporean guy (Mr. Chu) at this snack counter. I made the mistake of responding to his small talk â€¦ and God was he obnoxious. He went on this 10 minute tirade on how â€œHyderabad is unlike Singaporeâ€ (DUH) and how everything is â€œso much betterâ€ and â€œso much more efficient.â€ I mean seriously A.Netters. People like this need to not travel â€¦
I am so sorry you have to come across people like that from my country. I normally tell these people to stay home if they are so disturbed by how undeveloped other countries are. It is precisely because of people like them that we have been labelled "arrogant", "ignorant" and so on. Next time you are in town, let me buy you coffee and I can assure you we will have more than a 10 min conversation.
Quoting Abrelosojos (Thread starter): I went back to express my interest about the 310 to be met by blank stares and a non-verbal request to be left alone.
Hahahaha... That is utterly embarassing. A smile would have been nice from them.
Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
Justbala From India, joined Feb 2006, 178 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (7 years 8 months 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 20571 times:
Quoting DCAjet (Reply 8): Certainly AI got their money's worth out of those airframes!
and then some more!!! .. these a/cs are in a real sad state and are the backbone of AI's service to the Middle East. I am sure they r gonna feel the heat once 9W kicks its ops to these regions and later when iT joins in on the fun.
Good report BTW and thanx a lot for sharing with us..
Which overseas destination was this flight going to/coming from?! ..
Flown IC , 9W , SQ , SV , GF , S2 , LX , IT , LH , OS , DN , AC , MH , 6E , MI , AA , TG , EK , QR , SG , TK , KW, UA ,
Quoting Abrelosojos (Thread starter): While I appreciated the gestures at the ungodly 0415am departure, the food itself was absolutely horrible. The sandwiches were barely edible, and the dessert was just horrible. I had no idea what it was â€“ it was hard and sweet. Yuck
- Shame, I've actually heard good things about AI catering.
OA260 From Ireland, joined Nov 2006, 28825 posts, RR: 60
Reply 12, posted (7 years 8 months 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 20327 times:
Hi there very nice TR . I love Air India. Although funny enough I never flew then when I was going to India or on Domestic. I flew J class LHR-JFK and it was amazing.
I would have loved to see the J class seats. Whilst old I think I would like them. Id love to do that flight. I will miss paper tickets also so your not alone. There is something nice about having the ticket with the unique logo or pattern of the airline on it. I have kept my AI one which is the same as yours safely in a folder. Theres something about being branded with the airlines ticket wallets/Baggage lables LOL.....Its part of the trip.
Abrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5145 posts, RR: 54
Reply 15, posted (7 years 8 months 1 day ago) and read 20127 times:
Quoting OA260 (Reply 12): Hi there very nice TR . I love Air India. Although funny enough I never flew then when I was going to India or on Domestic. I flew J class LHR-JFK and it was amazing.
= Ya. I have flown AI on a couple of international routings and found their service to be exemplary. Perhaps the domestic flights do not get much bidding attention? I am a big AI fan (once it actually is in the air), so this was a disappointment. However, the flight was at 415am.
Quoting OA260 (Reply 12): I would have loved to see the J class seats.
Quoting OA260 (Reply 14): BTW was this how the J class cabin looked???
= No. I think that is the interior of the AI owned 310's. Mine came from SQ. The SQ 310's are in much worse state than AI's.
Quoting OA260 (Reply 12): I will miss paper tickets also so your not alone. There is something nice about having the ticket with the unique logo or pattern of the airline on it. I have kept my AI one which is the same as yours safely in a folder. Theres something about being branded with the airlines ticket wallets/Baggage lables LOL.....Its part of the trip.
= Yup. I get such weird looks when I get super excited with the exotic ticket in my hand, or a ticket jacket. Sigh.
Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 11): - Shame, I've actually heard good things about AI catering.
= Well. To their defense though, it was a 415am flight. AI catering is undoubtedly my favorite in the world ... and I have flown enough .
Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 11): - Now way! - Thought those printers went out with the ark!!
= LOL. Isn't it great?
Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 9): I am so sorry you have to come across people like that from my country. I normally tell these people to stay home if they are so disturbed by how undeveloped other countries are. It is precisely because of people like them that we have been labelled "arrogant", "ignorant" and so on. Next time you are in town, let me buy you coffee and I can assure you we will have more than a 10 min conversation.
= Do not worry. I do not extrapolate an entire country based on one person (well, except a certain larger Euro country where I am yet to encounter a really cool person ) ... and I mention that thankfully he is not representative of all Singaporeans. But l am a positive thinker ... and this experience got me a cafe date with you Ryanair!!! . I will take you up on it. I am scheduled to fly JNB-SIN soon.