justbala From India, joined Feb 2006, 186 posts, RR: 0 Posted (4 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 26800 times:
In the month of June I had to make a trip to CLE for a presentation and as luck would have it my passport was stuck at the Chinese Embassy and would be released only the day before my presentation in CLE!! I had to collect my passport from DEL and fly out from there and reach CLE before 2 PM local time.
The only workable option that was coming through was the DEL-ORD non stop on AI connecting on to AA from ORD to CLE. AA which also flies on the same sector did not have a flight on the said day.
My return leg was from JFK on AI 102 - titled "THE NON STOP" to mark the launch of non-stop AI flights from India to the US. AI had initially launched BOM-JFK and DEL-JFK as separate flights, but with the consolidation of their hub at DEL, these flights are now clubbed an AI 102 does JFK-DEL-BOM routing. In the meantime AI has launched non stop flights from DEL to ORD and BOM to EWR, replacing their earlier flights via Europe.
The AI flight would be departing from T4 and I reached well in advance of the flight time. There was a significant line in front of the AI counters and when I headed to the tail of what i thought was the line, a JFK security personnel directed me to the end of what was the reminder of the line, which was lined up against the terminal window. This arrangement prevented (somewhat) the AI crowd from blocking the passage complete. The neighbouring counters were checking pax for the VV flight to KBP.
View from the second half of the line..the security staff with the fluorscent orange jacket guiding pax to the proper line.
The AI crew walking towards security.. the line behind them is to deposit checked in bags at TSA security point
I had checked in online, which was a nightmare on the "new" AI site, the seat map just wouldnt show up and when it did, the site would timeout!!
After waiting for abt 45 mins, I finally managed to get my BP and headed to join the line to drop my baggage. The line had by now become a mess, with VV pax also joining the party. The JFK staff had a tough time keeping order
Thankfully the security was quick and I was soon airside.
My ride for the looooong hop to India - B77W VT-ALT Nagaland (named after the north eastern state of India)
Neighbouring Traffic EI 330 and MS 777
SQ 747 after her long journey via FRA
LX 330, with a company ship at distance in a threesome with two LAN babes
EK 380 that landed in from DXB
Boarding was announced slightly delayed
Lets talk Jumbo to Whale!!
The flight was around 80% full in Y. The passenger profile was almost 100% of Indian origin. However unlike the flight to ORD, this one had families with little children and youngster possibly headed to India for their vacation.
The mandatory knee shot
A nice feature on AI's longhual birds.. a holder for a full sized water bottle that is already at your seat when you board. Given the duration of the flight, this is a good thought and save the F/As a lot of time serving water in small cups However the drawback is tht they provided only 2 per set of 3 seats on the 77W. So that meant....
... bottles balanced at a weird angle
The IFE screen.. AVOD.. abt the selection.. well coming soon!!
Additional storage space in the seat back
Slots to grab small items that may have fallen into the seatback space
AI branded headseats in Y class
The security video was played over the IFE and a flight time of a lil under 14 hours was announced.
A view of the cabin, while boarding is in progress
Like the earthy colors on the new AI birds
The cleaning at JFK was probably not thorough enough, found this lil fella under the seat in front of me..
Now coming to the IFE.. sticks out like a sore thumb. What you see in the pic below is the whole of the English movie section!! Hindi is slightly better.. abt 15 odd movies!! For airlines that launched IFE in the 90s this was probably wow!! but in 2011.. extremely disappointing
The headseat at my seat was missing an earpad.. took abt 45 mins (after take off) to get a new one (after numerous F/A calls.. the calls would get reset from the galley!!)
Post take off, drinks service was commenced with some Indian nuts
Abt 2 hours into the flight meal service began.. there were 3 options, Indian chicken curry, Indian Vegetarian and Grilled Fish.
I chose the grilled fish.. big disappointment.. the only saving grace on that entire tray was the bun, which was warm n soft.
Our flight path today, taking us on a near polar route, with constant light outsde
Made a visit to the loo aftet the meal and was kinda shocked to find that , all they had in was soap and tissues.. not even cups!! I have seen domestic flights with more stuff that this!!
The crew had set up a snack bar in the Galley towards the midsection of the Y class, with vegetarian sandwiches and drinks
The Galley Shot
Flight meal plan
Trolley with an "intermediate" AI logo..
Veg S/W on offer
Midway through the flight, I was awakened by what I thought was an hijack attempt, but turned out to be our "friendly neighbourhood AI aunty" shouting at sleeping pax to pull open their tray tables so that she had something to aim the trays at!! I can understand such an hurried service on a sub 1 hr domestic flight.. but on a ULH flight this was completely uncalled for!! Maybe Aunty-ji had to get back quick to catch up on her beauty sleep or gossip!!
The cold snacks for which were were rudely awakened!! Yet another awful meal from AI!!
Pax trying to catch some sleep after being rudely woken up.. notice the number of IFE screens that are off.. after 5-6 hours, there's not much left to do with that
Abt 10 hrs into the flight, another visit to the loo.. this time even the tissue paper was missing!! The F/A call button elicited no response.. had to walk all the way to the rear of the a/c to get the crew's attention...
On the plus side, the toilets were in a better condition than the outward flight.
Abt 2 hours prior to land another meal was served (dinner/breakfast/lunch depending on which timezone your body was in!!)
There were two choices - Indian Veg and Egg Omlet and sausages.. went fot the Indian one this time
On offer - Puri, Stuffed Dosa, Upma and Chana...of all the meals that I had with AI long haul this was probably the best (not that the bar was set high in the first place!!)
Final trip to the loo before seat belts are on..
Mood Lighting setting in before landing
Landing into DEL was smooth and for me it was kinda odd landing into India from the West with the sun blazing outside!! :P
Pax with luggage before deplaning
Landing into DEL T3 always gives me an eerie feeling.. the corridors and walkways are long and usually lonely..
AI transfer desk.... well just the desks!!
The transfer part was bit of a joke. Since this flight goes on to BOM, there was pax who would continue on the same a/c and would clear immigration and customs at BOM instead of DEL. There were also pax transferring to other international connectors to HYD, CCU.. who would clear immigration at their respective destinations. However with no body to guide the passengers a lot of them landed at the immigration desk (which is wht would happen if you follow signs for "Domestic Transfers"!!) .. luckily the immigration officials caught such pax and directed them to the "International Transfer" area. Soon coupla AI staff came around calling for pax travelling to BOM,CCU, HYD. They should've been present at the gate while people were disembarking.
Since my flight to BLR was departing from the domestic section of T3, I cleared immigration and customs and headed to the transfer desk in the arrival lounge.
On my way there I came across some folks from the JFK flight with a perplexed look.. when asked they said they were unable to locate the AI domestic transfer desks. When we headed to the transfer area, there were two counters marked for 9W, but rest sported the DIAL logo. When i checked with one of the staff sitting at the unmarked counter, she told me I could check in for AI flights there..
The unmarked AI transfer counters.
Of the two counters open, only one was able to print boarding passes (strangely, they tore up the boarding passes issued at JFK in AI stock and printed a fresh one with the same set allocation, again on AI stock)
The transfer area.. the counters on the extreme right are for 9W, checking in pax who have landed on the AA flight from ORD.
Overall the trip was a disaster. I had very low expectations from AI and this was the first time I was travelling international on AI, but AI beat my expectations and dived to newer depths!! If this is the condition on what the airline touts as its flagship route, I shudder to think of the situation in other routes.
Apart from new a/c, there is nothing much working for AI - clueless ground staff, indifferent onboard crew, low grade IFE and bad catering!! Plus to top it all, the miles did not get credited in my LH account (even though my LH number was quoted on all BPs) and I had to send my boarding pass to LH to get the miles credited (which took 10 weeks in total).. so much for the so called "Star Alliance Integration"!! Pretty glad that *A decided to boot them out. As an Indian, it is pretty sad that AI continues to be our flag carrier, while we have better airlines like 9W, IT, 6E in the private sector.
[Edited 2011-09-01 12:45:36]
Flown IC , 9W , SQ , SV , GF , S2 , LX , IT , LH , OS , DN , AC , MH , 6E , MI , AA , TG , EK , QR , SG , TK , KW, UA ,
Ps76 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (4 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 26229 times:
Many thanks for the report. When I was young I think I remember Air India used to have cheap flights from London to Chicago being a flight originating from India which would stop in London. I always wanted to try it but normally went with the US airlines who were so good back then. Sorry you didn't have the best experience though. At least you weren't expecting much so weren't disappointed too much. I would probably still enjoy it for the novelty factor if I tried it!
contrails15 From United States of America, joined Oct 2008, 1181 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (4 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 25956 times:
Great TR, I work ground over at T5 at JFK so I see this flight come in every morning and always wondered how the flight and service is since I probably will never make it over to India. Now I know. LOL Great report though.
MSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 13
Reply 5, posted (4 years 5 months 1 week 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 23536 times:
thanks for your share, looks like AI did not please you at all. What I read is unacceptable for me as well. Almost flew them from Paris to Newark and back but (thankfully) it changed to 9W from BRU to EWR.
Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
manny From United States of America, joined Sep 2006, 533 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (4 years 2 months 2 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 18595 times:
Thanks for documenting this report.
I know you complained about the food but it seems whole better than what i got in Y on my last minute flight with Continental when i flew the EWR-BOM nonstop. Fortunately for me while waiting for the huge line at the gate for document check in to clear up i had enough time to get a decent meal at the restaurant that was very close the boarding gates. If not i would have starved on that 14 hour flight. On the way i was prepared fort this and did not even touch the food except some dessert.
PlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 7099 posts, RR: 75
Reply 10, posted (4 years 2 months 2 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 17703 times:
Very interesting report, justbala! I remember reading lots of praise for AI on these ULH flights and therefore I was quite disappointed to see what the service is like in these days.
Quoting justbala (Thread starter): However the drawback is tht they provided only 2 per set of 3 seats on the 77W. So that meant....
... bottles balanced at a weird angle
Quoting justbala (Thread starter): What you see in the pic below is the whole of the English movie section!! Hindi is slightly better.. abt 15 odd movies!! For airlines that launched IFE in the 90s this was probably wow!! but in 2011.. extremely disappointing
That's indeed ridiculous!
Quoting justbala (Thread starter): took abt 45 mins (after take off) to get a new one (after numerous F/A calls.. the calls would get reset from the galley!!)
I guess they were busy with preparing meals - but that's no excuse. Did many people press the call buttons? I noticed that on a recent 9W flight. And the crew kept patiently looking after all these passengers - even during meal service!
Quoting justbala (Thread starter): Midway through the flight, I was awakened by what I thought was an hijack attempt, but turned out to be our "friendly neighbourhood AI aunty" shouting at sleeping pax to pull open their tray tables so that she had something to aim the trays at!! I can understand such an hurried service on a sub 1 hr domestic flight.. but on a ULH flight this was completely uncalled for!! Maybe Aunty-ji had to get back quick to catch up on her beauty sleep or gossip!!
Wow, how rude!
Quoting justbala (Thread starter): Abt 10 hrs into the flight, another visit to the loo.. this time even the tissue paper was missing!! The F/A call button elicited no response.. had to walk all the way to the rear of the a/c to get the crew's attention...
I recently flew BOM-LHR on 9W which was a much shorter flight, but the lavatories were being kept in good condition.
I had wanted to try AI's 777s in the near future, but it seems the airline cannot match 9W. I was really impressed by Jet Airways - great cabins & IFE, nice FAs and good food.
emirates202 From United States of America, joined Nov 2011, 237 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (4 years 2 months 2 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 16166 times:
Air India has always sucked. I used to fly it before EK started flying to JFK. Much better to arrive at your destination WITH your bags, which is usually not the case on AI. I really don't understand why air india is still in business. Their standards have gone down a lot. As a frequent EK First Class Flyer from New York to Hyderabad(3-4 times a year), air india doesn't even compare to an airline like Delta. If you want to arrive at your destinaiton happy, and relaxed, fly Emirates.