But with the Dreamliner I got a chance to correct that
India's flag carrier Air India had just taken delivery of its first 787 Dreamliner, after months of haggling and negotiations with Boeing. AI had a placed an order for 27 Dreamliners to replace its ageing fleet of A310s. The first 787 (VT-ANH) was based out of DEL and was scheduled to do domestic runs to BLR and MAA for crew familiarization.
This gave me the golden opportunity to sample the Dreamliner without the hassles of an international trip.
Booking was done via AI's website - www.airindia.in. While the welcome page had a promo ad for 787 flights, there was no mention of the 787 in the flight details. Of the 4 daily flights between BLR and DEL the late afternoon one had no a/c details listed while the rest were on 320/319. I called up the AI call center and the agent confirmed that the flight was on a 788.
Booking was done online and the fare came to roughly INR 8200 (USD 160 approx).
For my onward flight from BLR to DEL, I used my KingClub miles to book a ticket on IT's morning flight.
The second day of operations AI had subbed the 787 for a 77L due to operational reasons. This got me jittery. The only reason I was flying was to experience the dreamliner. I called up the call center the night before and they confirmed that it was indeed still the 787 flying that sector.
I did a web check-in and the seatmap was that of the 787. I checked myself into 39A (the last row which is in a 2-3-2 config, while the rest are 3-3-3). This would help get a feel of the window seat as well make it easy to access the aisle for all the pic taking
Row 40 is the reserved crew rest area and is not shown on the seat map.
I had set my alarm for 0645 in order to leave home by 0730, but as is fraught to happen, I went back to that precious "5 minutes extra sleep" and woke up only at 7:40!! I stay about an hour and half drive away from the airport and with check in closing 45 minutes before I was cutting it pretty tight.
Drove down to the airport like a crazy person, but coupla intersections with bad traffic meant that I pulled into the long term parking lot of the airport only by around 09:25. Not looking good. I was already contemplating buying a ticket for the next available flight on 6E or 9W. But just then I got a call from the IT check in counter enquiring if I would be taking the flight that day. As I ran I told the agent that I am at the parking lot and that I am flying without any baggage, She informed me that she would keep my boarding pass ready and if I rush i might still make it to the flight.
Luckily for me the morning rush hour at BLR had subsided and I managed to reach the gate before 09:35!! Despite their financial troubles, IT still managed to ace customer service. Good on their part.
I was amongst the last on board. The load was around 50% and the agent had allotted me an exit row seat. The flight was pretty uneventful on an ex-DN bird (no PTVs).
Breakfast served - Indian Veg - Fruit Plate with Idli/Vada Sambar.
Coffee/Tea on request only.
How the mighty have fallen. From being the airline with maximum domestic destinations, IT today barely manage to cover north and west. Note that all International ops have been terminated.
After landing at DEL, I went to the transfer counter at the arrival level in T3, just to confirm that the BLR flight is still being operated by the 787.
Agent - " No. Its 403".
A shocked me - "What?!!..oh wait.. no I didnt mean the flight number (phew!!), the aircraft type".
Agent - "Oh.. lemme check.... yes it is indeed 788 Dreamliner". She then proceeded to print a new BP for me and asked if I wanted to change my seat since the last row was non-reclining (surprise surprise!!). I said i chose that because of the two seater, for which she again said it was a 3 seater all the way through. I asked her to check again and she apologized and said it was a 2 seater there.
After printing the BP, she said I need to head to the international departure since this is a "Wide Body" aircraft. Once again I had to ask her to confirm and she called up someone and sheepishly told me , it would be the Domestic gates. Not someone's best day at work!!
Probably she was confused with all the AI domestic legs of international flights (ORD-DEL-HYD, JFK-DEL-BOM, DEL-ATQ) that are 777 operated and depart from the international side.
I took the lift from the transfer desk upto the departure level and headed straight for security
The now mandatory Elephant Sculpture at DEL
This was probably the first time that I was boarding a flight from T3 in broad daylight and it does seem a lot spacious in the day than at night!!
To Domestic Departure, with AI Domestic Check In Counters in the foreground
Security was very fast and I headed to the food court on level 1 for lunch. As I took the escalator, I was greeted by a sight that made real happy AI 787 Dreamliner at Gate 32 having arrived from MAA and being prepped for BLR.
AI 77W at the International Side
Views of DEL AirSide
The Food Court in the upper level
FIDS. DEL T3 Domestic only serves the Full Service Carriers. LCCs operate from Terminal 1D
Heading to the gate
Sculpture depicting the various poses of Surya Namaskar - A common sequence of Hatha yoga asanas literally translates to "Salutations to the Sun"
The Private Airlines half of T3-Dom
The elusive AI CRJs.. glad to have caught two of them in the same frame
VT-SCH being prepped for her flight to LKO
Heading to Gate 32
Finally came across the "Mallu" Restroom @ DEL!! All rest rooms in DEL use the a man/woman dressed in the traditional attire of one of India;s 28 states. This one depicts the attire from my native state - Kerala.
Finally at Gate 32, I come face to face with the beauty!!
There have been a few changes to the AI livery for the Dreamliner - one of them being the absence of a cheatline
Second - the wordings "Air India" are missing on the tail
Third - the engines are no longer red with yellow rays. On the 787 they are white with red rays
You can see (kinda) the difference between the livery on the 787 and the 777 behind
The new 787s are not named either. The earlier AI birds were named after Indian states (777), Rivers (310), Emperors(747-200), Tourist Spots (747-400), Mountains ,Queens etc.
The distinctive 787 rear
The position of the gate and the fact that the floor did not extend all the way to the glass wall, made pic taking tricky. Dreamliner decal on the a/c
Since I still had to plenty of time for the gate to open, I decided to explore T3 further
Spacious gate areas, love the carpeting. reminds me of SIN
Cool T3 specific Pepsi vending machine. Nifty work!!
At the end of the pier, near gate 36 are probably the best seats in town!!
Overlooking the 3rd runway and taxi ways to T3
You could just spend an entire day here!! 9W 739 VT-JGC, taxiing pass the AI Regional CRJs
S2 Jet Konnect 738 taxiing as an AI 321 touches down on the runway
VT-JGM 9W 738 taxiing by
Boarding was announced for my flight and I soon headed to gate 32.
Tray Fully Open with pre-takeoff Bottle of Water served
Dreamliner Safety Card
Note that the exit lettering has been replaced by the new green signage along with pointing arrows. This will specifically come up during safety demonstrations
The actual signage
Additional signage on the seatback
New spacious overhead bins
My seatpocket had a Duty Free catalogue meant for international flights but no inflight mag
Extraspace at Row 39
And oh btw, contrary to what Ms. Clueless at the transfer desk said, the last row on the 787 does recline
Row 40 Reserved as Crew Rest Area
Rear Galley - Spanking new equipment
Air India 787 Trolleys
Restrooms - Notice how the restroom door opens quite differently!!
The safety demo was done manually with the crew highlighting the new exit signage
Before the safety demo, all window shades were brought to fully open mode by the crew and post that you cannot change it until after the a/c has reached cruising altitude. This controlled by a button on the doors for each section. This way the crew doesnt have to go individually asking folks to open windows.
Although I wonder wht would happen during early morning flights. Typically crew come around asking you to pull down the shades. If the crew sets it to full shut mode, you would not have any control on the window
AI Birds lined up on the International Side
Pic being taken from the terminal. Through out our taxi, both ground staff and passengers in the terminal were seen taking pics and videos of the new Dreamliner
AI Regional ATR 42 in CD Colours.
AI Regional CRJ
Holding for incoming a/c on the 3rd Runway
The take off roll was smooth and a lot less silent than the 777 or 330!!
During the climb, the crew came on the PA explaining the benefits and features of the new Dreamliner Aircraft, including the lighter material, fuel efficiency and the lower cabin pressure maintained. It ended with how you can experience all that only on Air India The crew also explained the working of the new Windows and requested all to be gentle with the window control. This was done in Hindi followed by English.
As soon as we reached our cruising altitude the seat belt signs were off and the crew sprung to action.
I managed to grab this shot as one side of the a/c still had windows in full open mode, while the other side had returned to original position. Each side is separately controlled.
The Aisle with the new Boeing interiors
The curve of the overhead bins, make the cabin appear more spacious.
Also notice in the pic above that Row 37 is a windowless row.
The windows up in the air
The IFE on the 787 is different from the ones on other AI a/c. The Hindi section is quite comprehensive, while English and Regional languages is quite minimal. One baffling omission was that of TV series - the staple diet for most short-medium haul flights. The video features is primarily documentaries.
Good headsets..probably the best in Y class
The smell of food being being heated in the galley came wafting through the cabin. The cabin crew came around with trollies offering veg and non veg snacks. I opted for the non-veg
The meal consisted of a Quiche, Grilled Paneer (Cottage Cheese), Puffs, Bread Roll and Butter, Cut Fruits and a dessert which I could not identify.
I re-confirmed with the crew if this was indeed non-vegetarian and turns out the Quiche had some bits of chicken in it.. else it was as good as vegetarian!! The food was disappointing. Puff was soggy, Quiche was dry. The Grilled Paneer tasted OK.
The Cabin Crew In Charge had some heated words with the crew in my section in Hindi. From what I could make out of it, he wanted the cabin to served beginning from the front, while crew started from rear. Initial teething trouble I guess.
After the trays were cleared I paid a visit to the loo
The flush mechanism on board the 787 is quite interesting. In addition to the push/press option, the 787 is also equipped with a sensor to give a touch free option. A lot more hygienic IMO.
But everytime I tried, it wud make some noise and nothing would happen. When I put the seatcover down though it automatically flushed. When I checked with the crew later, they said the sensor was malfunctioning as the wave motion will automatically bring the seatlid down and then flush.
Ashtray in the loo. Given that all flights now are non-smoking is this really necessary?!!
Cool LED lighting in the loo
Passengers settling down
Pity the poor soul stuck in 37K
View Down the Aisle
Curtain for the crew rest area
Cabin lights dimmed
Before landing the CCIC settled down in Row 40 to rest. A female crew came to him saying that they should do the demo now. I was a lil surprised as to what this demo was to be!!
The crew took their demo positions and went over the new exit signage once again in both Hindi and English. I asked the crew serving our section why this was done. She told me that since the exit signage on the 787 is drastically different from other a/cs in the AI fleet (and possibly India), it is mandatory to do this pre-landing briefing. Anyone know why the signage is different?! Is it only for AI or for all 787 operators.
Crew at demo stations for "pre-landing" safety demo. A first for me.
The landing into Bangalore was from the eastern side and was pretty smooth and we soon docked at on of the jet bridges.
Seatbelt signs switched off
Given that I was in the last row, I got a good opportunity to talk to the crew. Today's flight was full in Y and had 2 empty seats up in J. The second in command today was Capt. Rohit Bhasin, husband of Capt. Nivedita Bhasin - India's first lady commander and as of now, the only lady to have piloted the Dreamliner.
The crew consisted of Senior members from BOM and junior members from DEL. They are scheduled to do the MAA and BLR routes and then go on to DXB - AI's first Dreamliner International route. The CCIC commented that AI would be using the 787 to do MEL-SYD and possibly do a DEL-JNB.
Cabin as pax deplane
The front Y cabin
Spacious Overhead Bins
Just cant get over those windows
I asked the crew if I could take pics of the J cabin and they graciously said yes and even offered to take pics of me in there.
The J seats - not very cutting edge, but for the medium haul routes this should just be fine
J class in 2-2-2 config
Reluctantly, I bid goodbye to the Dreamliner and stepped back into BLR
The distinctive nose and cock pit windows of the 787
Farewell until next time..
One of the perils of operating a widebody on a domestic route - limited baggage carousel space!! All the double loop ones are on the international side
Overall the trip on the 787 was everything that I expected and then some more!! The Dreamliner provides AI with an excellent ammunition to target hitherto untapped markets like Central Asia, Australia and Africa as well as provide the right sized aircrafts for certain long haul destinations like YVR or BOS. Hopefully AI will seize this opportunity and the Dreamliner becomes a turning point in Air India's history. Wishing all the best to Air India!!
[Edited 2012-09-24 15:08:43]
Flown IC , 9W , SQ , SV , GF , S2 , LX , IT , LH , OS , DN , AC , MH , 6E , MI , AA , TG , EK , QR , SG , TK , KW, UA ,
baexecutive From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2005, 740 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (1 year 11 months 1 week 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 29402 times:
Fantastic TR, love the pics.
Can't wait till we get them....loving the centrally controlled window blinds, should make night flights easier on the eye for those sleeping.
Regarding the ash tray in the loo, although smoking has been banned onboard for many years now, it is seen as a safety feature, should a passenger disobey the rules and decide to smoke it is safer to dispose the cigarette in the ashtray rather than the waste bin which is full of paper and would obviously pose a fire risk.
debonair From Germany, joined Jan 2004, 2421 posts, RR: 4
Reply 11, posted (1 year 11 months 1 week 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 27976 times:
Nice TR, GREAT pictures!
Quoting justbala (Thread starter): But just then I got a call from the IT check in counter enquiring if I would be taking the flight that day.
WOW, unbelievable great service, these small extra touches do the trick between standard and outstanding customer service. Hopefully IT will survive...
Quoting justbala (Thread starter): AI had a placed an order for 27 Dreamliners to replace its ageing fleet of A310s.
Quoting justbala (Thread starter): I checked myself into 39A (the last row which is in a 2-3-2 config, while the rest are 3-3-3)
Quoting justbala (Thread starter): he crew also explained the working of the new Windows and requested all to be gentle with the window control
The B787 seems to be a fantastic a/c- even in this tight configuration (ANA is using 2-4-2 seating). Unfortunately, don't ask me why, I have a bad feeling about AI! AI will operate a modern LR fleet of B777/B787, offering a nice inflight product; but will AI finally make a profit and will be the a/c well maintained?
LondonCity From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2008, 1489 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (1 year 11 months 1 week 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 25690 times:
Quoting justbala (Thread starter): The J seats - not very cutting edge, but for the medium haul routes this should just be fine
Great report. Thanks for sharing the details. But I thought AI's 787 was going to be utilised on very long routes too. In which case the 2-2-2 in J class looks rather cramped to what QR will be offering in its J cabin.
aeroblogger From India, joined Dec 2011, 1363 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (1 year 11 months 1 week 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 25393 times:
Quoting LondonCity (Reply 17): Great report. Thanks for sharing the details. But I thought AI's 787 was going to be utilised on very long routes too. In which case the 2-2-2 in J class looks rather cramped to what QR will be offering in its J cabin.
AI's primary use of 787s is for East Asian, Central Asian, and African routes.
MEL/SYD, BOS, and YVR are proposed exceptions, not the rule.
Airports 2012: IXE HYD DEL BLR BOM CCU KNU KTM BKK SIN ICN LAX BUR SFO PHX IAH ORD EWR PHL PVD BOS FRA MUC IST
ba319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8535 posts, RR: 54
Reply 20, posted (1 year 11 months 1 week 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 24283 times:
Congrats, not only a decent report, the 1st AI 787 TR!
Quoting justbala (Thread starter): Despite their financial troubles, IT still managed to ace customer service. Good on their part.
- It's a shame, IT really have fallen far, however it's their own fault, they provided too much at a cost and the revenues never made up for it. I hope they can survive and start to grow again.
Quoting justbala (Thread starter): How the mighty have fallen. From being the airline with maximum domestic destinations, IT today barely manage to cover north and west
Quoting justbala (Thread starter): I asked the crew serving our section why this was done. She told me that since the exit signage on the 787 is drastically different from other a/cs in the AI fleet (and possibly India), it is mandatory to do this pre-landing briefing. Anyone know why the signage is different?! Is it only for AI or for all 787 operators.
- Never had this issue on my NH 787 flight and I don't recall reading about it on a recent JL TR, must be unique to AI.
OA260 From Ireland, joined Nov 2006, 26952 posts, RR: 58
Reply 22, posted (1 year 11 months 1 week 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 23821 times:
Well done for bringing us the first AI B787 TR
Very nice to see lots of shots . Will be interesting to see the product on International routes and the J Class experience. Still not sure I like the colour scheme in J but Y is growing on me. Nice to get block of two seats at the back . I hate rows of 3 .