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Air India: The Fading Glory Of A Proud Maharaja  
User currently offlineSR 103 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1740 posts, RR: 39
Posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 31996 times:

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To the outside world the Tata Group today is known for their ingeniously cheap cars such as the Tata Nano. However, many do not realize that Tata’s automobile range also contains such legends as Aston Martin and Jaguar. The Tata group also runs some of the best hotel chains (Taj Group of Hotels) in the world, along with numerous other brands not just in India but also all around the globe. Recently the Tata Group announced they would become the local partner of Air Asia in order to set up the LCC’s latest endeavor, Air Asia India. However it is not widely known that this is not Tata Groups first time in the aviation industry. Tata actually used to run the national airline of India till mid 70’s.


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Photo © Jerry Hughes
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From my understanding, in the 1960’s, when one mentioned Air India, luxury and sophistication were the words that came to mind. Air India was looked upon and adored much in the same way as Singapore Airlines is today. In fact, MSA (the predecessor to Singapore Airlines) actually used to send their staff to Air India for training. This all had to do with the man in charge at the time, a true visionary, J. R. D Tata.



Over the years, J. R. D Tata relinquished control of the airline to the Government, not necessarily by his choice. Slowly but surely, Air India went from one of the highest regarded airlines in the world into just another over bloated, government run airline that was known for its surly service, aging fleet, and horrendous on time performance. Air India quickly became “the airline to avoid” when traveling to and from India.

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In the mid 2000’s, Air India faced stiff competition from a liberalized Indian market, which allowed long established Jet Airways to compete directly with Air India internationally. At the same time, a number of new airlines were popping up on the domestic front such as Kingfisher, Indigo, Spicejet, and many more. While Air India continued to struggle amid all these challenges, the Civil Aviation Minister of India decided the answer lay with the regional national carrier, Indian Airlines. In 2008 a proposed merger was set in place and by 2011, both national carriers were merged into the newly formed National Aviation Company of India Limited (NACIL.)



However, the merger did not help Air India gain its splendor back, if anything it hindered the airline even more. Employees from the two carriers were constantly at odds with each other over seniority, pay, and much more. When management decided to open up the 787 flying to both primary Air India and primary Indian Airlines pilots, the union’s protests to the point of calling a strike. The behavior of the newly merged employees made the infamous America West/USAirways merger of 2005 seem like a well-choreographed Shakespeare play.


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Photo © Sushank Gupta- Indian Aviation Photographers



The last few years have not been kind to the new Air India. The company’s name has continuously been dragged though the mud publicly for one reason or another in the media. The airline has continued to make loss after loss, only to be bailed out by the Indian taxpayer. Many find this to be an unfair practice, but until the government revises its national policies this will never change.




Somehow Roni managed to convince me to board an Air India aircraft after my years of avoidance. Thus with much trepidation, we both found ourselves at Seoul Incheon holding a pair of business class tickets to Hong Kong on Air India. It was time to observe what has become of this once proud maharaja.



34 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineSR 103 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1740 posts, RR: 39
Reply 1, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 32364 times:

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Air India 317
Seoul Incheon – Hong Kong
Boeing 777-237/LR (VT-ALC) (Asam)
Seat: 11F
Scheduled Departure Time: 13:40
Actual Departure Time: 14:00
Scheduled Arrival Time: 17:10
Actual Arrival Time: 17:07


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Check In: Arriving off a connecting flight meant both Roni and I had to find the correct transfer desk which proved to be somewhat of a tedious task. After running around in circles for a few minutes both of us arrived at the Asiana transfer desk in the satellite terminal that handled Air India. I really don’t think Seoul is meant for non-alliance transfers, as it becomes a very complicated affair for some reason.



We handed over our passport and tickets to the Asiana agent behind the plastic Air India sign. We both asked for window seats, which was promptly met with a blank stare, followed by a rather perplexed look.
“You no want to sit together?”
We explained that we both preferred to have our own window seats, but the poor girl just could not understand why we would want to sit apart. After some furious typing, she printed our boarding passes along with invitations to use the Asiana Lounge in the satellite terminal.

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Asiana Lounge: We were both greeted warmly by the two lounge agents behind the counter. Once our lounge invitations were checked and collected, we were ushered in with a smile.

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The lounge was relatively tranquil at this hour with only a handful of passengers around. We found a quiet corner to relax in until boarding. Roni headed straight for the smoker’s lounge, while I went to check out the snack area.

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The food on offer was nothing spectacular unfortunately, a few variations of salad, sandwiches, and some hot noodle bowls. As this lounge is meant for Asiana’s partner airlines only, I suspect it has a slightly toned down menu when compared to Asiana’s flagship lounge in the main terminal; at least the Korean Air lounge does from my limited experience with Incheon. I decided it would be better to save my appetite for the flight and just grabbed a can of coke in an attempt to wake up after a long overnight flight.

The lounge provided free WiFi, which definitely helped pass the time while waiting for the flight. Sadly there were no windows in the lounge, which meant views of aircraft were nonexistent. I found the lounge as whole a little dark and dreary, but I suspect this has more to do with it not being the flagship lounge. As 12:50 rolled around, the both of us decided to head towards the gate.

Boarding: We leisurely walked down towards the gate, taking multiple pictures as we as we got closer and closer to our red and white 777-200LR.

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We eventually reached our gate only to find it absolutely deserted of passengers. As we approached the gate, the Asiana staff ushered us towards them,
“Air India? Come, this way sir.”
With that our boarding passes were ripped, names checked on a paper, and we were shown through the door where we took the escalator to a lower level.

At the bottom of the escalator there was a group of passengers clustered around. Turns out security were checking every piece of hand luggage. My bottle of water (from the lounge) was confiscated, as was Roni’s lighter. To say security was thorough today would be an understatement. There were large bins on the side of confiscated material, which were already quite full.

We proceeded down the jetway and waiting for us at the front door was a set of senior crew. As we stepped through the door we were both welcomed with clasped hands and a “Namaste” by the male purser (Ashok), and his female counterpart (Rashna) who was wearing Air India’s distinctive red and black sari.

I have to say the rather distinctive Indian interior really hits you with a punch at first glance- brown and gold seats with bright red carpets. We stowed our belongings and sat down in our designated seats in the mini two-row cabin behind First Class.

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A young female flight attendant (Priya) came by with a tray of drinks.
“Hello gentlemen. Would you like some juice? I have orange, grape and apple.”
I went for the apple, while Roni went for the grape.

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If you notice, you’ll see two very different logo’s on each of the glasses. The apple juice contains the new(ly) merged Air India logo, while the grape juice has the classic and rather iconic Indian Airlines logo.

Soon enough there was an announcement “all passengers onboard, all ground personnel please leave the aircraft.” Looking around we noticed we were the only passengers in the mini cabin. Being the adventurous folks that we are, we asked if we could move to the second (larger) cabin behind. This allowed each of us to get window seats for take off.

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My seat had a little bit graffiti on it. Just in case you did not know which airline you were on, someone went ahead and wrote it on the armrest

Once we had settled into our new seats, Rashna was by our sides with a tray full of newspapers. Ashok came by a few minutes later,
“Will you be joining us for lunch today?”
“Certainly.”
“What would you like to drink after take off?”
“Can I have a rum and coke please?”
“Sure, but it shall be dark rum if that is ok?”
“That’s fine. Thanks.”
“For lunch we have three options. One is chicken curry served with rice and vegetables. Then we have a vegetarian curry as well, which is served with rice and vegetables. There is also a white fish made in a spicy Korean style. Which of the three would you like?”
“I’ll go for the chicken curry please.”
“Yes sir.”

A rather lengthy and detailed safety demo began playing, first in Hindi, followed by English.

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The Asiana ground staff waving “good bye.”

The weather was not particularly great on that day, but I still saw quite a bit of variety on the way to the runway.

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After all, nothing puts a smile on my face quite like a blue KLM aircraft- it’s just so soothing to me. Plus it’s always nice to see “City of Orlando” on the other side of the world, after all Orlando was my home aircraft for a number of years.

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Sorry, just can not help myself. She is a beauty!

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User currently offlineSR 103 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1740 posts, RR: 39
Reply 2, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 32260 times:

Flight: After lining up with the runway, both GE engines were throttled forward and we lifted off into a hazy sky. Since the load was so light on today’s flight, you could really feel the power of the aircraft.

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I started playing with the IFE as the view disappeared outside the window.

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Anyone notice the wrong Air India livery on the Boeing 777 in the corner?

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My first challenge was finding a pair of headsets that actually worked. After trying my seat, the seat next to mine, and the aisle seat, I found a working pair in the seat behind me. Not quite a good start but still remaining hopeful. I did notice that the headsets on offer in Air India business class are identical to the headsets on offer from United in economy.

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After going through the movie selection, I was rather disappointed to find only 12 English movies, with half of them being far from current releases! While I do enjoy some movies from the 90’s, at least give me a choice, I am not always in the mood for classics. I don’t know what made me think Prometheus was a good choice, but then again I use the word “choice” loosely.

Eventually the seatbelt sign was switched off and Roni decided to occupy the aisle seat in order to join me for lunch.

Rashna first handed out hot towels followed by our pre ordered drinks. This was followed by two packages of nuts, one containing salted peanuts and the other salted almonds.

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My rum and coke.

While the presentation could use a bit of sprucing up, the nuts were of a high quality and complimented the drinks very well. My rum and coke tasted equally good, if not a tad bit heavy handed on the rum, but then again most people consider that a good thing.

Now I am sure I do not need to tell you what infamous drink Roni ordered. The good news is if he accidently knocked the glass over onto the carpet no one would notice. He was so happy with his bloody mary that he downed the first one in no time and was ready for a second before we were ever given our meals.

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Roni’s ever so classic bloody mary!

Ashok delivered second’s on our drinks without as much as a second thought. Rashna distributed our meal trays shortly thereafter, with Ashok right behind holding a breadbasket handing out rolls and chapatis.

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At first glance the tray is cluttered, and the presentation is certainly lacking any finesse that is normally associated with international business class standards.

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The bread roll was a bit dry and hard but otherwise relatively edible. The chapati however was absolutely delightful, warm, soft, and just the right consistency. It was the absolute perfect companion to the yellow dhal.

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The Italian salad dressing was provided on the side in a rather cheap plastic packet, but at least it tasted decent. The vegetables in the salad bowl consisted of a cucumber, a few slices of tomato, bell peppers, lettuce, and some corn.

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The main course consisted of curry chicken, basmati rice, and some stewed okra. In all honesty I am not a large fan of okra, but it tasted pretty decent. Thankfully it was not slimy at all. The chicken curry was full of flavor and a bit on the spicy side. I had to dilute the spiciness with some of the plain yogurt that had been provided. The rice was hot and fluffy, and not dried out at all. Overall it was quite a satisfying dish.

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However the highlight on the tray for me was the orange and mango mousse. I am a die-hard fan of chocolate mousse, and an equally big fan of mango, so combining the two is a match made in heaven for me. It was light and airy with just the right amount of sweetness.

Oh did I mention the tray also contained some crackers and spreadable cheese? Needless to say this was quite a filling meal. Ashok even stopped by half way through our meals offering more chapati and dhal. Sadly I was so stuffed I could only manage a second helping of chapati.

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Roni’s vegetarian tray.

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A close up of Roni’s vegetarian main course.

Roni being a lover of Indian food practically inhaled his entire tray in what seemed like a matter of seconds. He more than willingly accepted Ashok’s offer for more dhal and chapati. While he had ordered the vegetarian option his main course was identical to mine, with just the chicken being swapped out for a paneer based dish. We did not know what it was exactly but with the words Indian and Vegetarian together, Roni did not need any more information.

Ashok collected our trays a little while later.
“I hope you enjoyed your meals?”
“We certainly did.”
“Is there anything else I can get you?”
“Can we get some of that Indian tea?” Roni quipped.
“You mean chai?”
Roni gave me a bewildered looked to which I responded,
“Ashok, do you have any masala chai?”
“Absolutely, would you like two cups of that?”
“That would be perfect.”

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Our distinctive white mugs with the orange sun were delivered with a smile from Ashok. Good to see a non-US airline using mugs onboard. I can honestly say it was definitely one of the better cups of tea I have had in the air, but then again I really enjoy masala chai.

After everything had been collected, Roni decided to take a nap by putting his seat all the way back. As per his snoring, I take it the seat was very comfortable. I on the other hand finished up the rather horrendous movie and decided to listen to some music instead.

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Now this is one area that Air India’s IFE did not disappoint. I switched over to the electronic section and came across three of my top DJ’s, including my all-time favorite. I quickly made my own playlist using all three albums, and blissfully passed the time in a dark cabin with my seat reclined into a cradled position.

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A view like this accompanied by some great music is all that I needed on this flight.

A quick trip to the lavatory revealed nothing out of the ordinary.

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The lavatory was relatively clean and contained a bottle of cream, hand sanitizer, and eau de toillete from “Caire.”

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As the dark cabin began to slowly change into various shades of blue and orange, I knew the top of descent was imminent. The crew went through the aisles opening up the window shades, and Ashok came by my seat and began to inquire about where I was from and what I do for a living. Once he found out I work in the industry, we began quite the long conversation on Air India and aircraft in general as the aircraft began its descent into Hong Kong. He mentioned how he enjoyed working on the 787 and thought the merger had been an utter disaster for the two airlines.

Roni and Rashna had a rather similar conversation in the seats behind.

“Mr. Hawi, I hope you enjoyed your flight with us today?”
“I most certainly did. Thank you very much”
“Most welcome. Is Hong Kong your final destination?”
“For tonight yes, and what about you? Do you continue to Delhi?”
“Delhi we will continue tomorrow only, as we will layover in Hong Kong for the night”
“That's great”
“Thank you for flying with us Mr. Hawi, and we hope to see you on board again”
“Certainly”


Arrival: Eventually they both excused themselves as we were nearing final approach. The weather was not great this afternoon, but the front camera provided some excellent views of the surrounding area.

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A smooth touchdown ensued, and we taxied to our corner gate located at the end of the “Y” terminal.

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Once the seatbelt sign had been switched off, we picked up our belongings and headed towards the galley. I asked Ashok if it was possible for Roni and I take some pictures of the First Class cabin. He smiled and said “Of course, be my guest.”

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After a few pictures were taken, we both headed towards the door where Ashok and Rashna were waiting to bid us farewell.

After a quick exit down the jetway, we walked towards immigration just as the sun was setting outside.

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Hey look Roni, it's a sign!  

Thankfully this afternoon immigration moved relatively swiftly despite being a little jam-packed. Having no checked in bags, both Roni and I were landside and on our way to the hotel minutes before the sun fully set.

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User currently offlineSR 103 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1740 posts, RR: 39
Reply 3, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 32155 times:

Verdict: Air India was a pleasant surprise this time around. While there may be areas that need improvement, I was generally satisfied with the overall experience. Let’s start with some of the areas in need of improvement. My biggest gripe with Air India has to be lackluster an IFE system, and its utterly pitiful library, coupled with its rather inadequate headset offerings. When you think that these aircraft are used on 13 hour non-stop flights to the United States, the offerings are borderline pathetic and inexcusable. Better noise canceling headphones would also be a plus, provided they actually work in the first place.

The aircraft itself was a bit on the worn side, especially when you consider it was barely five years old. The seats themselves had also seen better days, but truth be told at least they worked. The seat was relatively comfortable and functional. While I did not put it into full recline, Roni happily snoozed away after the meal service, which means the seat definitely met his approval.

The cabin crew on our flight was very pleasant, and did what was needed to keep us pleased. They were very approachable and more than willing to chat with us about aviation. In all honesty, they were far better than any Jet Airways crew I have encountered, and both Roni and myself agree on this. While my favorite Indian crew to date is still Kingfisher, there was just something very humble and appealing about Ashok and Rashna.

As far as the inflight catering goes, I actually quite enjoyed it. While the presentation could definitely use a bit of an enhancement, I could not fault the quality or the quantity of the offerings. The dishes were relatively fresh and plentiful, with multiple offerings of bread and dhal. If only things could be served on a course-by-course basis it would not have looked like a jumbled up mess on a tray.

In the end, my feelings on Air India are rather mixed. I still say Kingfisher was better from a product and service perspective despite their Chairman’s inflated ego, however this one Air India flight put my numerous so-called world-class experiences on Jet Airways to shame! While there is definitely some room for improvement, this be-leagued national flag carrier has quite some potential. While I still think it is unfair for the Indian taxpayer to bail out a bloated, mis-managed, government run national carrier, I just cannot envision an India without Air India. There is such rich and exquisite history tied to this airline. Maybe one day the Maharaja can truly return to its glory days and once again become “your palace in the sky.”

Air India 317:

Check In: 7 (The Asiana personnel behind the counter were efficient)
Lounge: 7 (Missing windows and hot food, but otherwise a nice little place to relax)
Boarding: 10 (Straight forward and very easy with dedicated J class line)
Seat: 8 (Comfortable enough but definitely showing wear and tear)
Service: 8 (A friendly set of senior crew that tried to please)
Entertainment: 4 (Quality and quantity of the AVOD system needs work, and the economy class headphones did not help)
Food: 9 (Excellent in quality and quantity, but presentation could definitely use some work)
Aircraft: 7 (Despite being relatively young, the aircraft was showing signs of wear and tear)
Arrival: 10 (Hong Kong tends to be quick and smooth, and this was no exception)

70/90 = .777

Air India Scored a 77%



Some Previous Trip Reports

Garuda Indonesia: Blending Tradition & Innovation (by SR 103 Dec 27 2012 in Trip Reports)
Etihad Pearl: The Virgin Australia Way (by SR 103 Oct 26 2012 in Trip Reports)
SriLankan Airlines: Searching For Serendipity (by SR 103 Aug 9 2012 in Trip Reports)
Royal Jordanian: The Lost Art Of Flying (by SR 103 Apr 19 2012 in Trip Reports)
Cathay Pacific: Re-Discovering The Heart Of Asia (by SR 103 Nov 8 2011 in Trip Reports)
The Evolution Of Change: Gulf Air Vs. Jet Airways (by SR 103 May 7 2011 in Trip Reports)
A Mile & More With Lufthansa (by SR 103 Jan 21 2011 in Trip Reports)
The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris (by SR 103 Sep 12 2010 in Trip Reports)
Kingfisher First On The A330: Redefining Luxury (by SR 103 Jan 13 2010 in Trip Reports)
Virgin America Delivering On Grand Promises (by SR 103 Jun 14 2009 in Trip Reports)
Qatar Airways: Your Five Star Airline? (pics) (by SR 103 Feb 9 2008 in Trip Reports)
Back To My Roots: KLM World Business Class (pics) (by SR 103 Dec 22 2007 in Trip Reports)
Etihad: A Diamond In The Rough (pics) (by SR 103 Sep 2 2007 in Trip Reports)
The Art Of Service: Kingfisher & Jet Airways(Pics) (by SR 103 Aug 8 2007 in Trip Reports)
Air France: The Best Place On Earth? (pics) (by SR 103 Jul 26 2007 in Trip Reports)
Korean Air Business: Excellence In Flight? (pics) (by SR 103 Jan 27 2007 in Trip Reports)
Skyteam Challenge: Air France Business Class(pics) (by SR 103 Dec 22 2006 in Trip Reports)
Did AA Persuade A Skyteam Elite To Switch? (Pics/Vid) (by SR 103 Jun 14 2006 in Trip Reports)
Battle For The Best: Song Vs. JetBlue (+Pics) (by SR 103 Jan 31 2006 in Trip Reports)
Malaysia: Asia’s Best Kept Secret? (W/pics) (by SR 103 Feb 18 2005 in Trip Reports)


User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3360 posts, RR: 12
Reply 4, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 31849 times:

Nice report, and some super detail at the beginning...thanks! I had similar impressions after my 787 flight with AI least year. Nice hardware generally, but very poor movie choices.

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
At the bottom of the escalator there was a group of passengers clustered around. Turns out security were checking every piece of hand luggage. My bottle of water (from the lounge) was confiscated, as was Roni’s lighter. To say security was thorough today would be an understatement. There were large bins on the side of confiscated material, which were already quite full.

Urgh, without doubt the worst thing about Indian aviation is the security. Still, this procedure seemed better than those carried out in India. Still, horrible.

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
At first glance the tray is cluttered, and the presentation is certainly lacking any finesse that is normally associated with international business class standards.

The food looks nice, by the tray looks more Y+ than business. Airlines that serve the entire meal on a tray just aren't trying hard enough.

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
Our distinctive white mugs with the orange sun were delivered with a smile from Ashok. Good to see a non-US airline using mugs onboard. I can honestly say it was definitely one of the better cups of tea I have had in the air, but then again I really enjoy masala chai.

I love the mug, although am not a fanof the chai!

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
I asked Ashok if it was possible for Roni and I take some pictures of the First Class cabin

Looks comfy.



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW,STN-OTP-AMS-YUL,YQB-JFK-LAX-DUS-STN,LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1130 posts, RR: 32
Reply 5, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 31716 times:

Very good report thanks...

I would still not shy away from Air India. They seem to offer an overall good product.

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
Turns out security were checking every piece of hand luggage. My bottle of water (from the lounge) was confiscated, as was Roni’s lighter. To say security was thorough today would be an understatement.

Goodness, that is thorough. And thoroughly miserable that Asiana give you a knock-off lounge for airline partners.

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
The good news is if he accidently knocked the glass over onto the carpet no one would notice.

Haha...

Quality and quantity all seemed to be there in the catering, just it needed alot of touching up. The tray looked what some (excellent) airlines would serve in Y.

Thanks,

Luke



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlineCF-CPI From Canada, joined Nov 2000, 1128 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 31580 times:

Thank you for the interesting trip report covering an airline that we do not hear about often on airliners.net. AI has one of the nicest schemes around IMHO, and I would like to see them return to their former stature. Looking over the photographs of the cabin, things looked a bit worn: the paper picture of the water buffalo on the rear bulkhead of the mini-cabin being an odd choice of 'atmosphere' , and the seat covers overall did not look fresh. Still, it was a pleasure to hear about the attentive staff and good inflight service, even if the business class meal looked a bit 'compact'. It makes me wonder if they pull out all stops in the First Class cabin (meals in courses, on real plates, etc). There, you have your next mission!

User currently offlineYtraveller From United States of America, joined Jul 2013, 288 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 31233 times:

Your trip report was a very enjoyable read. There seem to be very few trip reports of long-haul flights with Indian airlines, so I was excited to see this one.

But I agree, the aircraft does look quite worn out. The livery however looks bright and elegant, and happens to be one of my favorite airline liveries. The service by the flight attendants looks very good, too. I fly between the United States and India every summer, so have also had some experience with Indian airlines. We flew Air India several years back, and while the food was good, we had to make connections in both Chicago, Frankfurt, and Mumbai. Mumbai's airport was not that good back then, and it made the journey much longer and tedious.

If you ever have the chance to fly Jet Airways, they may be a better product. They, too, are not a good option for us anymore, because we need to make connections in Newark or Toronto, Brussels, AND Chennai, instead of flying straight to London and on to Bangalore with BA. Again thanks for your great trip report.


User currently offlineEddieDude From Mexico, joined Nov 2003, 7632 posts, RR: 43
Reply 8, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 31191 times:

Awesome trip report! I really enjoyed reading it. Thanks for taking the time to write it and for sharing the photos.  
Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
Tata’s automobile range also contains such legends as Aston Martin

Land Rover. Tata owns Jaguar and Land Rover. Aston Martin is owned by a group of investors led by David Richards, Italian private equity fund Investindustrial and Ford (Ford retained a very small stake).



Next flights: MEX-GRU (AM 77E), GRU-GIG (JJ A320), SDU-CGH (G3 73H), GRU-MEX (JJ A332).
User currently offlineMSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 16
Reply 9, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 30952 times:

Hello SR 103

Another interesting read, I've always been on fond of your reports.
Air India delivered pretty nice service and looked better than what I would expect. Maybe to eventually join Star Alliance after all.
Catering looks delicious as well.

Greetings
Marc



Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
User currently offlinelychemsa From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 1260 posts, RR: 3
Reply 10, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 3 days ago) and read 30809 times:

I flew on an Air India B707 in 1966 from New York to London. It was great.

I chose to fly them because everyone said they were great. When my cousin was offered to fly in First class from London to New York everyone told her to fly Air India. My aunt took the same trip in F and said it was fantastic.

My father flew on an Air India Constellation from Geneva to Cairo in the 1940s and said they were excellent.

[Edited 2013-08-03 12:25:50]

User currently offlineSR 103 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1740 posts, RR: 39
Reply 11, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 29517 times:

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 4):
Nice report, and some super detail at the beginning

Thanks Gabriel.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 4):
I had similar impressions after my 787 flight with AI least year. Nice hardware generally, but very poor movie choices.

Good to see I am not the only one who thought this way.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 4):
Urgh, without doubt the worst thing about Indian aviation is the security. Still, this procedure seemed better than those carried out in India. Still, horrible.

That is very true, it is a bit more tedious and cumbersome in India.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 4):
The food looks nice, by the tray looks more Y+ than business. Airlines that serve the entire meal on a tray just aren't trying hard enough.

I could not agree more. There is no excuse on a flight of this length to serve it in courses. If US airlines can do it, so can Air India.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 5):
Very good report thanks...

Thanks, glad you enjoyed it.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 5):
And thoroughly miserable that Asiana give you a knock-off lounge for airline partners.

To be fair, Korean Air has a lounge across from the Asiana and caters to all its partners as well. As neither Asiana nor Korean Air actually serve this mid field terminal, I assume this lounge is dedicated for partner use only.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 5):
The tray looked what some (excellent) airlines would serve in Y.

Which airline serves this much food in Y? You have to let me in on this secret!  
Quoting CF-CPI (Reply 6):
AI has one of the nicest schemes around IMHO,

I agree, it really is one of the most striking ones out there.

Quoting CF-CPI (Reply 6):
Looking over the photographs of the cabin, things looked a bit worn:

That it definitely was.

Quoting CF-CPI (Reply 6):
the paper picture of the water buffalo on the rear bulkhead of the mini-cabin being an odd choice of 'atmosphere'

I thought so too. It seems a bit tacky to put a posted up with tape.

Quoting CF-CPI (Reply 6):
There, you have your next mission!

I am debating between the 787 J and AI F to be honest. Not sure which would be easier to do.

Quoting Ytraveller (Reply 7):
Your trip report was a very enjoyable read.

Thank you.

Quoting Ytraveller (Reply 7):
If you ever have the chance to fly Jet Airways, they may be a better product.

I have flown Jet Airways a few times, even written a few reports on them. My experiences have never been anything special so I am in no hurry to return to them.

Quoting Ytraveller (Reply 7):
instead of flying straight to London and on to Bangalore with BA.

Is Lufthansa not an option for you?

Quoting EddieDude (Reply 8):
Awesome trip report! I really enjoyed reading it. Thanks for taking the time to write it and for sharing the photos.

Thanks, glad you liked it.

Quoting EddieDude (Reply 8):
Land Rover. Tata owns Jaguar and Land Rover.

Thanks for the correction, I actually knew that! No idea why I put Aston Martin down! I guess everyone now knows which car I like better!  Smile
Quoting MSS658 (Reply 9):
Another interesting read, I've always been on fond of your reports.

Thanks Marc.

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 9):
Maybe to eventually join Star Alliance after all.

As a frequent Star Alliance flyer, I would always welcome more airlines to earn and burn with.

Quoting lychemsa (Reply 10):
I flew on an Air India B707 in 1966 from New York to London. It was great.

Any more details on what made your experience so great? I have always heard about how wonderful Air India was in late 60's and early 70's. Shame I never got to try the airline during its glory days.

[Edited 2013-08-04 04:09:36]

User currently offline767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1965 posts, RR: 24
Reply 12, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 29117 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Great report, SR 103!

Thanks for the great detail and good reporting of your Air India flight. I would love to try them someday; Business looks quite nice, and the service sounds great and something you'd expect from an international carrier, with perhaps a few things lacking.

Looking forward to your next trip!

Matthew


User currently offlineRyanair!!! From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 4757 posts, RR: 25
Reply 13, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 29088 times:

Back to your roots, I see...

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 1):
Somehow Roni managed to convince me to board an Air India aircraft after my years of avoidance. Thus with much trepidation, we both found ourselves at Seoul Incheon holding a pair of business class tickets to Hong Kong on Air India. It was time to observe what has become of this once proud ...

I am with you on this one, growing up I've heard wonderful things about the Indian carrier. Stuff of fabled stories from a faraway exotic land so those were my thoughts whenever I saw an Air India plane in Changi. I tried desperately to look through the motif windows from the viewing gallery to perhaps get a glimpse of that perceived luxury I kinda sorta wondered about.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 1):
“You no want to sit together?”

I had a SIMILAR problem checking in on my last ADL flight. We were in Changi and parents and I had made the booking separately. It was indicated to be a full flight so we chanced it and asked for window seats. We told the agent its fine for us not to be seated together and we were greeted with a look like we have uttered something sinful. Turns out it was a rather empty flight and we were just a row apart eventually.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 1):
I have to say the rather distinctive Indian interior really hits you with a punch at first glance- brown and gold seats with bright red carpets.

There you go.. Palace in the sky.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 2):
I don’t know what made me think Prometheus was a good choice, but then again I use the word “choice” loosely.

I don't think I've ever left a movie thinking how DUMB can the characters be?! I was actually frustrated watching it and thinking how can this be Noomi Rapace's debut into Hollywood?! She is made of better stuff and being involved in a project like Prometheus seems like a desperate attempt to enter the American scene. I cannot believe Charlize Theron is in it too. Not like she needs the money... So WHY? Urgh...

These Hollywood big wigs seem to be on a path of flops lately. DO NOT even get me started on Tom Cruise and his Jack Preacher / Oblivion twin bomb. EEW!



Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
User currently offlineflightsimboy From Canada, joined Sep 2005, 1340 posts, RR: 5
Reply 14, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 28943 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Hi Anosh,

When I saw this late last night, I knew I had to reserve it for a good Sunday morning read, and how I have enjoyed this while sipping my coffee this nice Sunday morning!! Thanks for the great opening and the relevant bits of information that put together the jigsaw puzzle that is the new Air India...a nice detail from it's former glory to where she is right now.

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
From my understanding, in the 1960’s, when one mentioned Air India, luxury and sophistication were the words that came to mind. Air India was looked upon and adored much in the same way as Singapore Airlines is today. In fact, MSA (the predecessor to Singapore Airlines) actually used to send their staff to Air India for training. This all had to do with the man in charge at the time, a true visionary, J. R. D Tata.

Would you say Air India was the "Pan Am" of the East...India in it's own right and without even Air India conjures up thoughts of magic, colour and fantasy of a far away place!!

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
We handed over our passport and tickets to the Asiana agent behind the plastic Air India sign. We both asked for window seats, which was promptly met with a blank stare, followed by a rather perplexed look.
“You no want to sit together?”
We explained that we both preferred to have our own window seats, but the poor girl just could not understand why we would want to sit apart.

Well if you check in together, than expect the agent to think you want to sit together too....Hmm isn't that the rule travelling companions check in together or else do it separately lol. In fact, I think some check in desks specifically ask when two or more reach a desk, if they are all travelling together. If not the ones not part of the group are sent back.

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
We leisurely walked down towards the gate, taking multiple pictures as we as we got closer and closer to our red and white 777-200LR.

How I do miss that red and white tail at YYZ!! She used to look so resplendent like a newly married Indian bride in a red sari lining up on Rwy 23 in the afternoon sun, while embarking on her voyage back home!!

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
We stowed our belongings and sat down in our designated seats in the mini two-row cabin behind First Class.

Nice little cabin, very personal I would say!

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
Soon enough there was an announcement “all passengers onboard, all ground personnel please leave the aircraft.” Looking around we noticed we were the only passengers in the mini cabin. Being the adventurous folks that we are, we asked if we could move to the second (larger) cabin behind. This allowed each of us to get window seats for take off.

Were you not already in window seats in this mini cabin...or did you just move back to have a better view?

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
My seat had a little bit graffiti on it. Just in case you did not know which airline you were on, someone went ahead and wrote it on the armrest

Such behaviour in Business Class tsk,tsk...lol

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
After all, nothing puts a smile on my face quite like a blue KLM aircraft- it’s just so soothing to me.

Just something about KLM that is so awesome...especially on the B744.....Not sure if this magic will die out once these exotic birds leave the fleet...I can't say the colours on the B773ER bring out the same effect and magic.

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
Rashna first handed out hot towels followed by our pre ordered drinks. This was followed by two packages of nuts, one containing salted peanuts and the other salted almonds.

They could have at least put them into a bowl

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
At first glance the tray is cluttered, and the presentation is certainly lacking any finesse that is normally associated with international business class standards
Quoting SR 103 (Reply 3):
If only things could be served on a course-by-course basis it would not have looked like a jumbled up mess on a tray.

At least you didn't get it all piled up in it's aluminium foil like Alex did lol. Yes would have added to the exoticness of Air India to have things brought on a course-by-course basis..

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
The chapati however was absolutely delightful, warm, soft, and just the right consistency. It was the absolute perfect companion to the yellow dhal.

That would have left me sweating from the brow, and having to crank up the overhead air exhaust to cool me off...but B773ERs don't have them if I recall.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 3):
The cabin crew on our flight was very pleasant, and did what was needed to keep us pleased. They were very approachable and more than willing to chat with us about aviation. In all honesty, they were far better than any Jet Airways crew I have encountered, and both Roni and myself agree on this. While my favorite Indian crew to date is still Kingfisher, there was just something very humble and appealing about Ashok and Rashna.

Two thumbs up to Air India's dedicated senior crews to keep the former glory alive. Though I can't say I am a big fan of their saris, used to be quite a sight for sore eyes when their FA's would be seen leaving the Terminal at Pearson.


User currently offlineYtraveller From United States of America, joined Jul 2013, 288 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 28890 times:

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 11):
Quoting Ytraveller (Reply 7):
instead of flying straight to London and on to Bangalore with BA.

Is Lufthansa not an option for you?

Living in Las Vegas, Lufthansa is less convenient. We have a nonstop flight to Frankfurt with Condor, but it can be difficult to book the airlines together to Bangalore. BA has daily, nonstop flights to Heathrow, which we are so thankful for. Prior to Oct. 2010, VS was the only London flight, but that to Gatwick instead.


User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1130 posts, RR: 32
Reply 16, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 28572 times:

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 11):

Which airline serves this much food in Y? You have to let me in on this secret!  

Hmmm, not SQ? EK also do very good portions, and, well, TG. Not sure. It is less about quantity than presentation. Still looks like a great meal!



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlineCaliAtenza From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 1582 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 28572 times:

Quoting Ytraveller (Reply 15):

Living in Las Vegas, Lufthansa is less convenient. We have a nonstop flight to Frankfurt with Condor, but it can be difficult to book the airlines together to Bangalore. BA has daily, nonstop flights to Heathrow, which we are so thankful for. Prior to Oct. 2010, VS was the only London flight, but that to Gatwick instead.

Why dont you just pop over to LAX...and voila, your Lufthansa connection  . But BA does make sense..one stop in London adn then straight to BLR  .


User currently offlinekann123air From United States of America, joined Jun 2009, 1001 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 28572 times:

Awesome TR!! Looks like AI's Business product is lightyears better than it's Y product.....  


Moving forward with the New American
User currently offlineBurj From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 901 posts, RR: 4
Reply 19, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 28571 times:

Very cool trip report! Thanks for the history of Air India/Indian Airlines.....

So do you think, long term, there is hope for it/them?


User currently offlinelychemsa From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 1260 posts, RR: 3
Reply 20, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 27071 times:

To me the reason Air India was great back in 1966 was:

1. The exotic atmosphere. The Indian music as you entered the aircraft which was very pleasant.
2. The hostess who welcomed each passenger individually at the door in her sari.
3. The orange juice before take off in economy class which no other airline offered.
4. The great Indian meal.

My aunt who flew F with them always raved about her experience with them.

It is interesting to note that in the 1940's the flight attendants were trained by TWA.


User currently offlineairdfw From United States of America, joined Aug 2012, 201 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (1 year 4 months 1 week 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 26553 times:

While AI is lacking in many aspects, what is their secret for good food? Is it the caterer? Somebody exclusive for them?

User currently offlineNZ107 From New Zealand, joined Jul 2005, 6456 posts, RR: 38
Reply 22, posted (1 year 4 months 1 week 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 26417 times:

Fantastic stuff as usual, Anosh! Thanks for sharing. I found that opening stanza most interesting to read - what a shame AI has fallen from the pinnacle it once was.

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
we both found ourselves at Seoul Incheon holding a pair of business class tickets to Hong Kong on Air India. It was time to observe what has become of this once proud maharaja.

Finally, an airline flying so many routes you don't need a visa for.. Yet you choose the 5th freedom route  
Quoting SR 103 (Reply 1):
At the bottom of the escalator there was a group of passengers clustered around. Turns out security were checking every piece of hand luggage. My bottle of water (from the lounge) was confiscated, as was Roni’s lighter. To say security was thorough today would be an understatement. There were large bins on the side of confiscated material, which were already quite full.

That's absurd. I didn't think there could be anything worse than the pre-flight security on all flights (except ex-NZ) to Australia. I'm sure the Australian security wouldn't confiscate a lighter either. Let's hope that not many expensive lighters are seized due to this ridiculous check.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 2):
the headsets on offer in Air India business class are identical to the headsets on offer from United in economy.

Doesn't really say much, does it.. Although it seems to go hand in hand with the lack of IFE offerings available. Lucky it's a short flight.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 2):
The good news is if he accidently knocked the glass over onto the carpet no one would notice.

Haha, I'm sure Roni would take the utmost care when drinking one of these!

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 2):
At first glance the tray is cluttered, and the presentation is certainly lacking any finesse that is normally associated with international business class standards.

Indeed, as pointed above, I would have guessed this to be from Y+ or even very close some airlines' Y trolley cart (sans the unlimited servings of bread/chapati). The main and dessert look nice but the presentation is far from polished.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 3):
The aircraft itself was a bit on the worn side, especially when you consider it was barely five years old.

Wow, 5 years old.. I wouldn't have guessed that. But then again, nothing I wouldn't expect.


Cheers,
Nicholas



It's all about the destination AND the journey.
User currently offlineojas From India, joined Mar 2008, 2988 posts, RR: 25
Reply 23, posted (1 year 4 months 1 week 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 25661 times:

hi SR 103,

Good to see a TR from you and that too Air India !!!

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
From my understanding, in the 1960’s, when one mentioned Air India, luxury and sophistication were the words that came to mind. Air India was looked upon and adored much in the same way as Singapore Airlines is today. In fact, MSA (the predecessor to Singapore Airlines) actually used to send their staff to Air India for training. This all had to do with the man in charge at the time, a true visionary, J. R. D Tata.

That's an amazing preface to the report. Just made it special when you invoked the Tatas into it.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 1):
f you notice, you’ll see two very different logo’s on each of the glasses. The apple juice contains the new(ly) merged Air India logo, while the grape juice has the classic and rather iconic Indian Airlines logo.

Yes, the messed up merger!

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 2):
Now I am sure I do not need to tell you what infamous drink Roni ordered.

Yes, even on my flights if someone orders a bloody mary, somewhere back of my head I feel like checking if it is Roni or not!

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 2):
The bread roll was a bit dry and hard but otherwise relatively edible. The chapati however was absolutely delightful, warm, soft, and just the right consistency. It was the absolute perfect companion to the yellow dhal.

Masterchef SR 103 :P

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 2):
Roni being a lover of Indian food practically inhaled his entire tray in what seemed like a matter of seconds. He more than willingly accepted Ashok’s offer for more dhal and chapati. While he had ordered the vegetarian option his main course was identical to mine, with just the chicken being swapped out for a paneer based dish. We did not know what it was exactly but with the words Indian and Vegetarian together, Roni did not need any more information.

We really need to investigate if Roni is Indian or have Indian origins LOL

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 3):
My biggest gripe with Air India has to be lackluster an IFE system, and its utterly pitiful library, coupled with its rather inadequate headset offerings. When you think that these aircraft are used on 13 hour non-stop flights to the United States, the offerings are borderline pathetic and inexcusable. Better noise canceling headphones would also be a plus, provided they actually work in the first place.

I may disagree on you on this.

Better headsets .. yes. However if you are referring to the poor collection of English movies, you must realise the clientele AI caters to on the US flights and their preferences are more desi and regional Indian than English. While it may not be ICE CX Studio or Krisworld, the choices are maintained as per the passenger profile. I do understand it maynot be the right approach, but when a huge majority of your clientele is catered to, I suppose it is very much acceptable.

Once again thanks for sharing your TR, it has been one of the most unbiased reports on AI in recent times.



A lion does not concern himself with the opinions of the sheep
User currently offlineSR 103 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1740 posts, RR: 39
Reply 24, posted (1 year 4 months 1 week 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 24872 times:

Quoting 767747 (Reply 12):
Great report, SR 103!

Thanks.

Quoting 767747 (Reply 12):
and the service sounds great and something you'd expect from an international carrier, with perhaps a few things lacking.

There are definitely a few small things AI could try to improve on for sure, but overall it was still a very decent experience.

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 13):
Back to your roots, I see...

LOL! Back to my roots is more like KL or CX!

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 13):
There you go.. Palace in the sky.

Not quite my idea of a palace, but each to his own I guess...

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 13):
I cannot believe Charlize Theron is in it too. Not like she needs the money... So WHY? Urgh...

I can not believe Charlize was in this junk either!

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 14):
When I saw this late last night, I knew I had to reserve it for a good Sunday morning read, and how I have enjoyed this while sipping my coffee this nice Sunday morning!!

Thanks for that.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 14):
Thanks for the great opening and the relevant bits of information that put together the jigsaw puzzle that is the new Air India...a nice detail from it's former glory to where she is right now.

Glad you enjoyed it.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 14):
Would you say Air India was the "Pan Am" of the East...India in it's own right and without even Air India conjures up thoughts of magic, colour and fantasy of a far away place!!

I would not exactly call Air India the "Pan Am of the East," but more of a boutique carrier that was known for their exemplary service and high standards.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 14):
Nice little cabin, very personal I would say!

It is a nice mini cabin which can come in handy on a full long haul flight.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 14):
Were you not already in window seats in this mini cabin...or did you just move back to have a better view?

I decided to move back to get a better view of the wing and engine. If the larger cabin had been more full, I would have stayed put.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 14):
I can't say the colours on the B773ER bring out the same effect and magic.

Your right, the KL livery on the 777 does nothing for me either. However I have to say I absolutely love the way the colors look on the KL A330.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 14):
They could have at least put them into a bowl

I agree, but if I forgive LH and many more well respected airlines for doing this, I can forgive AI. After all, if you don't feel like eating them, you can take them with you and save them for a snack at a later time. I am guilty of this as I sometimes just don't want to eat so much onboard.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 14):
At least you didn't get it all piled up in it's aluminium foil like Alex did lol.

Actually they were delivered all wrapped up in aluminum foil. Both Roni and I removed them before taking the pictures.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 14):
That would have left me sweating from the brow, and having to crank up the overhead air exhaust to cool me off...but B773ERs don't have them if I recall.

The 772LR's we were on had the individual air vents.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 14):
Though I can't say I am a big fan of their saris, used to be quite a sight for sore eyes when their FA's would be seen leaving the Terminal at Pearson.

Yes, the sari can become an eye sore on some of the auntie's. However a lot of the ex Kingfisher girls now at Air India and they really can make the sari look good.

Quoting Ytraveller (Reply 15):
Living in Las Vegas, Lufthansa is less convenient.

Ahhh, Las Vegas. I was wondering what US cities only had BA LHR service without any LH service. Only three came to my mind and LAS was one of them.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 16):
Hmmm, not SQ? EK also do very good portions, and, well, TG. Not sure.

Actually I have some pictures of the Y meals on these three carries from recent flights. Would you like me to share them with you?

Quoting kann123air (Reply 18):
Awesome TR!! Looks like AI's Business product is lightyears better than it's Y product.....

I hope so, but I can not comment sadly.

Quoting Burj (Reply 19):

So do you think, long term, there is hope for it/them?

I really can not say. The government interferes with the airline way too much and until they let go, Air India will continue to falter.

Quoting lychemsa (Reply 20):

To me the reason Air India was great back in 1966 was:

1. The exotic atmosphere. The Indian music as you entered the aircraft which was very pleasant.
2. The hostess who welcomed each passenger individually at the door in her sari.
3. The orange juice before take off in economy class which no other airline offered.
4. The great Indian meal.

That must have been quite the experience back then.

Quoting airdfw (Reply 21):
While AI is lacking in many aspects, what is their secret for good food? Is it the caterer? Somebody exclusive for them?

From my understanding, the meals we had were catered out of HKG. However I imagine it is good because of AI's tight grip on quality control. Indians are serious about their food and Air India knows this is one of their major selling points.

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 22):
Fantastic stuff as usual, Anosh! Thanks for sharing.

Thanks Nick, glad to see you enjoyed it.

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 22):
Finally, an airline flying so many routes you don't need a visa for.. Yet you choose the 5th freedom route  

I may have not needed a visa, but someone else would have and he has an aversion to embassies apparently!   

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 22):
Doesn't really say much, does it.. Although it seems to go hand in hand with the lack of IFE offerings available. Lucky it's a short flight.

Yes, very true. I don't think I could survive a India-US flight with these pitiful options.

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 22):
The main and dessert look nice but the presentation is far from polished.

Agreed!

Quoting ojas (Reply 23):
Good to see a TR from you and that too Air India !!!

Thanks.

Quoting ojas (Reply 23):
That's an amazing preface to the report. Just made it special when you invoked the Tatas into it.

Thank you. I almost did not if you can believe that as I struggled on how to introduce Air India.

Quoting ojas (Reply 23):
We really need to investigate if Roni is Indian or have Indian origins LOL

I do have my doubts about him being Jordanian. Sometimes he acts more Indian than Middle Eastern.

Quoting ojas (Reply 23):
However if you are referring to the poor collection of English movies, you must realise the clientele AI caters to on the US flights and their preferences are more desi and regional Indian than English.

Thats fair, but then again if Korean Air or United can cater to the foreign markets with a large IFE library while keeping the locals happy, so can Air India!

Quoting ojas (Reply 23):
I do understand it maynot be the right approach,

So you agree with what I said, there is room for improvement!

Quoting ojas (Reply 23):
Once again thanks for sharing your TR, it has been one of the most unbiased reports on AI in recent times.


Glad you thought it was unbiased. I was worried it was too anti AI.


User currently offlineThe777Man From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 6671 posts, RR: 55
Reply 25, posted (1 year 4 months 1 week 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 24810 times:

Hi SR 103!

Thanks for a very nice report with very nice pictures !

Great to sea a report on AI's Business class and it looks great !

I agree that the movie selection leaves a lot to be desired. That was my experience as well when I flew JFK-BOM a few years ago.

AI 77L JFK-BOM With Pics (by The777Man Nov 14 2007 in Trip Reports)

Does the seat go fully flat ?

Food looks great !

I had one of my best flights in Economy ever on my AI flight so not surprised that you enjoyed yours. Would love to try that short HKG-ICN flight.

Looking forward to your next report!

The777Man



Need a Boeing 777 Firing Order....Further to fly....CI, MU, LX and LH 777s
User currently offlineSR 103 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1740 posts, RR: 39
Reply 26, posted (1 year 4 months 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 23517 times:

Quoting The777Man (Reply 25):
Thanks for a very nice report with very nice pictures !

Thanks Lars, glad you enjoyed it.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 25):
I agree that the movie selection leaves a lot to be desired. That was my experience as well when I flew JFK-BOM a few years ago.

AI 77L JFK-BOM With Pics (by The777Man Nov 14 2007 in Trip Reports)

I remember your report very well.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 25):
Does the seat go fully flat ?

Its an angled flat seat, similar to EK's current seat. Though nowhere near as bad as LH's old seat.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 25):
I had one of my best flights in Economy ever on my AI flight so not surprised that you enjoyed yours. Would love to try that short HKG-ICN flight.

You should. Rumor is that its switching to the 788 soon so you better get going on that.


User currently offlineronerone From Jordan, joined Aug 2004, 1675 posts, RR: 53
Reply 27, posted (1 year 4 months 2 days ago) and read 23034 times:

Hello SR103,

Fantastic report on a great trip! The amazing detail brought back the great memories of this short flight which was a very positive experience for me.

As what you described, my Air India experience was more or less the same as yours. I found them to cream anything related to Jet Airways, as they still maintain that classic soft product.

The cabin may be worn out, the meal presentation may not be on par with typical standards, but the entire package somehow works for me. A truly humble experience.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 1):
I really don’t think Seoul is meant for non-alliance transfers, as it becomes a very complicated affair for some reason.

I think i agree with you on this!

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 1):
“I’ll go for the chicken curry please.”

This is so un-SR103

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 1):
This was followed by two packages of nuts, one containing salted peanuts and the other salted almonds.

Very generous offering! Not just one packet, but two! As you said, it may have been presented in a nicer way, but at least you could take any unopened packet home to snack on later.

SQ does the same, so i think we all need to just oblige and accept, because it's SQ  
Quoting SR 103 (Reply 2):
The chapati however was absolutely delightful, warm, soft, and just the right consistency. It was the absolute perfect companion to the yellow dhal.

Again, very un-SR103.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 2):
Roni being a lover of Indian food practically inhaled his entire tray in what seemed like a matter of seconds. He more than willingly accepted Ashok’s offer for more dhal and chapati. While he had ordered the vegetarian option his main course was identical to mine, with just the chicken being swapped out for a paneer based dish. We did not know what it was exactly but with the words Indian and Vegetarian together, Roni did not need any more information.

It really hit the right spot!

The meal i had on my previous EY flight was superb in taste and beautiful in presentation (and that bread was just delightful). But it really did not compare to this hearty serving.

Presentation was indeed lacking, and a multi-course fare would have been a more typical elaboration, but to me it was one of those meals where i did not care how it was presented   Yum Yum!  
Quoting SR 103 (Reply 1):
Hey look Roni, it's a sign!

No one knew it was also a sign of things to come for me  
Quoting SR 103 (Reply 3):
My biggest gripe with Air India has to be lackluster an IFE system, and its utterly pitiful library, coupled with its rather inadequate headset offerings. When you think that these aircraft are used on 13 hour non-stop flights to the United States, the offerings are borderline pathetic and inexcusable. Better noise canceling headphones would also be a plus, provided they actually work in the first place.

I now do see Ojas's point however. If Air india is catering primarily to its home market, then the IFE selection may have been adequate.

This is definitely something even i overlooked.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 3):
Roni happily snoozed away after the meal service, which means the seat definitely met his approval.

It was quite comfortable. The fact that the seat lowers close to the ground when in fully flat mode made room for less of an angle. And for some reason it felt more comfortable being somehow lower than normal.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 3):
In all honesty, they were far better than any Jet Airways crew I have encountered,

  

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 3):
If only things could be served on a course-by-course basis it would not have looked like a jumbled up mess on a tray.

I assume they split the meals into courses on longer flights? Still however, 3+ hours is plenty of time to do this.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 25):
Would love to try that short HKG-ICN flight.

Hi Lars!

Should definitely give it a try before that flight switches to the Dreamliner.


Many thanks for sharing this with us! Fantastic and amazing as always!

Cheers,
Roni



A Stop Away From One-Stop, Is Non-Stop : Airbus A340-500
User currently offlineMHTripple7 From United States of America, joined Feb 2008, 1108 posts, RR: 8
Reply 28, posted (1 year 4 months 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 22923 times:

Great Trip Report. Air India is in an interesting position, as it seems they are trying to return back to their glory days, but just can't seem to shed away the excessive government bureaucracy that is holding them back.

I flew AI from JFK to DEL back in 2008 in J, and was thoroughly satisfied with my experience. While AI lacked the sophistication of Jet Airways even, the service was genuinely good from the heart and the hard product was phenomenal.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 1):
My bottle of water (from the lounge) was confiscated, as was Roni’s lighter.

This exact same thing happened to me in HKG. I had bought 3 bottles of water for my upcoming 15 hour flight to JFK, and they were all confiscated. I was on the verge of throwing a fit, but somehow managed to control myself.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 1):
If you notice, you’ll see two very different logo’s on each of the glasses. The apple juice contains the new(ly) merged Air India logo, while the grape juice has the classic and rather iconic Indian Airlines logo.

An example of the lack of sophistication. This again was the case on my 2008 AI flight.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 1):
My seat had a little bit graffiti on it. Just in case you did not know which airline you were on, someone went ahead and wrote it on the armrest

Wow. That's pathetic.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 2):
My first challenge was finding a pair of headsets that actually worked. After trying my seat, the seat next to mine, and the aisle seat, I found a working pair in the seat behind me. Not quite a good start but still remaining hopeful. I did notice that the headsets on offer in Air India business class are identical to the headsets on offer from United in economy.

AI gave me a pair of Bose noise cancellation headsets for my flight. I wonder if they have done away with this, or perhaps it's just due to the short duration of your flight?


User currently offlineKaran69 From India, joined Oct 2004, 2893 posts, RR: 18
Reply 29, posted (1 year 4 months 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 22593 times:

Hi Anoosh,

An excellent write up as always

I especially enjoyed the introduction part about the ownership being with the Tata's, a fact that most [a.netters included] are unaware of

The meal presentation could definitely have been better, i mean ideally in J class there should be enough space so that your items dont touch each other, that definitely does not seem the case here

As far as taste goes there are few who can serve up the palette of AI

Wrt IFE
I know my soul long haul experience of AI, which i documented on these forums was not even near perfect and i criticized the IFE however,

I recently flew on the Dreamliner from DEL-CCU and as i was telling Ojas there are as good as no English choices even today, but the Bollywood and regional cinema choices are more than enough to satisfy their major market and pax profile, i counted no less than 80 Bollywood movies this in addition to the hindi and regional sitcoms/cinemas

AI does seem to focus more on desi traffic [as they should] and in hindsight i dont see this as a bad thing

Keep on flying and writing my friend the sky is definitely the limit

Any interesting Airline next,?

As far as i go i am compling my TR on the worlds longest route which will soon shutdown

@Roni

We need to do a DNA test on you to see how much Indian you are?   
Seriously , your love and knowledge of Indian food amazes me

Karan


User currently offlinedirectorguy From Egypt, joined Jul 2008, 1705 posts, RR: 11
Reply 30, posted (1 year 4 months 11 hours ago) and read 22283 times:

Thank you for writing up a very special trip report....was truly enjoyable and one that I will be re-reading over and over.
My verdict is that AI's standards have slipped from their heydey that lasted into the 1970s. The presentation, aspects of their product are not competitive to allow them to be taken seriously. While your report indicates favourable opinion, I would consider them a 'hidden gem' more than a high-quality airline that can compete with EK/SQ/9W/IT etc. They definitely need to do a lot to go from hidden-gem to world-class airline.


User currently offlineakhmad From Netherlands, joined Sep 2005, 2500 posts, RR: 53
Reply 31, posted (1 year 3 months 4 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 21535 times:

Namasté Anosh (and Roni),

Kudos to Roni for talking you into this flight experience! What an exciting experience, a true eye opener as I was not aware of the finest hours of Air India during the last century.   


Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
This all had to do with the man in charge at the time, a true visionary, J. R. D Tata.
Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
Over the years, J. R. D Tata relinquished control of the airline to the Government, not necessarily by his choice.

Can you imagine how hard it must have been for Tata to see Air India going downhill afterwards?

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 1):
We both asked for window seats, which was promptly met with a blank stare, followed by a rather perplexed look.
“You no want to sit together?”

“Yes, why do you not want to sit together?”  


Quoting SR 103 (Reply 1):
Roni headed straight for the smoker’s lounge, while I went to check out the snack area.

My oh my, was the snack area not tempting enough to make Roni skip smoking?   


Quoting SR 103 (Reply 1):
Turns out security were checking every piece of hand luggage. My bottle of water (from the lounge) was confiscated, as was Roni’s lighter.

Seriously, why is this secondary security check necessity?  


Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
I have to say the rather distinctive Indian interior really hits you with a punch at first glance- brown and gold seats with bright red carpets

Honestly, I would love it at first glance.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 1):
while Roni went for the grape.

Good choice!

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 1):
while the grape juice has the classic and rather iconic Indian Airlines logo.

So did you liberate it as Burj would say?

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 1):
My seat had a little bit graffiti on it. Just in case you did not know which airline you were on, someone went ahead and wrote it on the armrest

I would great appreciate it. NOT!   


Quoting SR 103 (Reply 1):
“I’ll go for the chicken curry please.”
Quoting SR 103 (Reply 2):
While he had ordered the vegetarian option his main course was identical to mine, with just the chicken being swapped out for a paneer based dish.

Roni’s choice was better!   


Quoting SR 103 (Reply 1):
After all, nothing puts a smile on my face quite like a blue KLM aircraft- it’s just so soothing to me.

I know!   


Quoting SR 103 (Reply 2):
Anyone notice the wrong Air India livery on the Boeing 777 in the corner?

Old livery?

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 2):
Since the load was so light on today%u2019s flight, you could really feel the power of the aircraft.

It must be similar to my QR’s experience on DOH-DXB leg last year . The only difference is that we had full load and less fuel on board.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 2):
I did notice that the headsets on offer in Air India business class are identical to the headsets on offer from United in economy.

Oh no!   


Quoting SR 103 (Reply 2):
After going through the movie selection

I would immediately skip it and entertain myself with music selection.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 2):
He was so happy with his bloody mary that he downed the first one in no time and was ready for a second before we were ever given our meals.

Haha, was it his first bloody mary serving after a while?

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 2):
Ashok right behind holding a breadbasket handing out rolls and chapatis.

Chapati’s! My favorite!   


Quoting SR 103 (Reply 2):
“Ashok, do you have any masala chai?”

How I miss masala chai!  


Quoting SR 103 (Reply 2):
I switched over to the electronic section and came across three of my top DJ’s, including my all-time favorite. I quickly made my own playlist using all three albums, and blissfully passed the time in a dark cabin with my seat reclined into a cradled position.

David Guetta, Tiësto and Kylie Minogue I assume? My favorites as well!   


Quoting SR 103 (Reply 2):
“Delhi we will continue tomorrow only, as we will layover in Hong Kong for the night”

Good on AI! Can you imagine how exhausting it could be if the crew had to continue all the way to Delhi on the same day?


Dhanyavād! Thank you so much for sharing.


Warmest regards,
Suryo  



Friends forever
User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31702 posts, RR: 56
Reply 32, posted (1 year 3 months 2 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 20124 times:

Amazing TR, fantastic pictures and interesting read......


Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlineSR 103 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1740 posts, RR: 39
Reply 33, posted (1 year 3 months 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 18713 times:

Quoting ronerone (Reply 27):
As what you described, my Air India experience was more or less the same as yours. I found them to cream anything related to Jet Airways, as they still maintain that classic soft product.

I could not agree with you more. You do tend to like your hidden gem's like UL and GA of which 9W is not.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 27):
SQ does the same, so i think we all need to just oblige and accept, because it's SQ

But the US carriers take it out of the plastic and put it in a ramekin, heck some of them even heat it up in the oven for you. Are you seriously telling me the Singapore Girl is not trained to do this task?   

Quoting ronerone (Reply 27):
I assume they split the meals into courses on longer flights? Still however, 3 hours is plenty of time to do this.

From my understanding they do not, its a one tray affair no matter how long the flight is. Only F gets courses. Once upon a time they used to hand out Digiplayers too in J. Can you imagine the balancing act that ensued?

Quoting MHTripple7 (Reply 28):
Great Trip Report.

Thanks, so glad to hear you ejoyed it.

Quoting MHTripple7 (Reply 28):
Air India is in an interesting position, as it seems they are trying to return back to their glory days, but just can't seem to shed away the excessive government bureaucracy that is holding them back.

I am not sure they ever will be able to, no matter how hard they try.

Quoting MHTripple7 (Reply 28):
I flew AI from JFK to DEL back in 2008 in J, and was thoroughly satisfied with my experience. While AI lacked the sophistication of Jet Airways even, the service was genuinely good from the heart and the hard product was phenomenal.

I have a similar opinion. After numerous 9W flights, I just can not find a reason to pick them over any other carrier. To be quite honest, they are very average carrier and need to do a lot of work before they can ever hope to play in the big leagues with the likes of CX, SQ or BA.

Quoting MHTripple7 (Reply 28):
AI gave me a pair of Bose noise cancellation headsets for my flight. I wonder if they have done away with this, or perhaps it's just due to the short duration of your flight?

You know, I will have to find out more about this. Maybe cost cutting got the better of them. Though I do know I both Jet and Kingfisher offered Bose.

Quoting Karan69 (Reply 29):
An excellent write up as always

Thank you Karan, always good to hear from you.

Quoting Karan69 (Reply 29):
I especially enjoyed the introduction part about the ownership being with the Tata's, a fact that most [a.netters included] are unaware of

Thanks. I really was not sure if it was worth adding or not. Glad to see you think I made the right decision.

Quoting Karan69 (Reply 29):
The meal presentation could definitely have been better, i mean ideally in J class there should be enough space so that your items dont touch each other, that definitely does not seem the case here

Forget having the dishes touch each other, how about taking the foil off first? The last thing I want to do is use up whatever empty space I have on my tray with crumpled up foil and plastic covers.

Quoting Karan69 (Reply 29):
AI does seem to focus more on desi traffic [as they should] and in hindsight i dont see this as a bad thing

They have found their niche and this is a good thing. Though if they want to play on a global field, they do need to improve the IFE content.

Quoting Karan69 (Reply 29):
Any interesting Airline next,?

I have a few lined up over the coming months. Due to circumstances out of my control, over 75% of my travel is on one carrier so it gets really boring. I do try to spice it up once in a while though.

Quoting Karan69 (Reply 29):
As far as i go i am compling my TR on the worlds longest route which will soon shutdown

Excellent. Saves me from having to write it up when I take it in a few weeks!   

Quoting directorguy (Reply 30):

Thank you for writing up a very special trip report....was truly enjoyable and one that I will be re-reading over and over.

Thank you directorguy, glad to see you liked it.

Quoting directorguy (Reply 30):
They definitely need to do a lot to go from hidden-gem to world-class airline.

Agreed. Air India definitely has their work cut out for them. Lets see if this oneworld or star thing ever happens.

Quoting akhmad (Reply 31):
Can you imagine how hard it must have been for Tata to see Air India going downhill afterwards

I don't even want to imagine what the poor guy went through watching this airline he built from the ground up become the mess that it is. He unfortunately passed away in the early 90's so he was alive to see the airline fall.

Quoting akhmad (Reply 31):
So did you liberate it as Burj would say?

I didn't but you should ask Roni if he did.

Quoting akhmad (Reply 31):
Roni’s choice was better!

I much prefer chicken over curdled cheese thank you very much!   

Quoting akhmad (Reply 31):
Old livery?

Kind of, sort of. Before the merger with Indian Airlines, some of the first 777's were delivered in this new livery. However it never really made it past a few months before they were repainted into the current livery.

Quoting akhmad (Reply 31):
Haha, was it his first bloody mary serving after a while?

Strangely no, he had a few on our connecting flight over to Seoul on Etihad.

Quoting akhmad (Reply 31):
David Guetta, Tiësto and Kylie Minogue I assume? My favorites as well!

You got two out of the three. Replace Kylie Minogue with Paul Van Dyke and you have my favorite three DJ's.

Quoting akhmad (Reply 31):
Good on AI! Can you imagine how exhausting it could be if the crew had to continue all the way to Delhi on the same day?

The crew actually do HKG-ICN-HKG I believe so they actually do two legs.

Quoting akhmad (Reply 31):
Dhanyavād! Thank you so much for sharing.

Thanks Suryo, always nice to see you enjoyed it.

Quoting HAWK21M (Reply 32):
Amazing TR, fantastic pictures and interesting read......

Thanks HAWK21M.


User currently offlinemk777 From United States of America, joined Oct 2006, 1195 posts, RR: 0
Reply 34, posted (1 year 3 months 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 17809 times:

Hey Anoosh,
Nice TR. Seems like the Maharaja is not a bad way to travel. the a/c doesn't seem to be maintained well, looking at the the seats and other wear and tear.

The food presentation can definitely be spruced up, wish they would serve on a plate to make the curries more appetizing then squishing them to one side with tons of rice in the middle.

Anyhow, seems like you had an awesome trip to HK....keep on writing...

Regards,
Mohit.



come fly with me
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