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Air Deccan (DN) : MAA-IXZ, Andaman Trip (few Pics)  
User currently offlinePlaneboy From India, joined May 2005, 199 posts, RR: 0
Posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 12740 times:

I did a trip to Andaman Islands (India) in the low season of August. To reach Port Blair (IXZ), capital of Andaman & Nicobars, and the only airport of that chain, I used Air Deccan (DN) from Chennai.

Details about my trip to Andamans can be found here in the India travel forum.

I managed to pick-up a cheapo fare on DN few months before the trip. DN has really wrecked the gameplans of IC and 9W in this route. (IC serves IXZ 7x weekly from MAA and CCU, while 9W serves 7x from MAA only). In the peak season, these two carriers were slapping about Rs.9000 (USD 200) one-way, and the prices would only go up from there. So, in the past people who could afford this aerial route were Govt officials, corporate bigwigs and some desi and 'phoren' tourists. DN has turned the game on its head and in the low seasons airfares are cheaper than the Ship (3 days and two nights of sailing time from Chennai / Kolkata, costs about Rs.3000 for the bunk class). Imagine those unlucky islanders who could not afford the IC/9W fares, and had to wait for weeks to get a ship ticket to mainland, and then drift the distance in a ship for an awfully long time... Now, suddently the mainland is just two hour away by air, and what's more, its cheaper than that ship!

Date: 22nd August 2006
Sector: MAA-IXZ
Carrier: Air Deccan
Flight no: DN-709
Aircraft type: Airbus A320
Registration: VT-ADZ
ETD: 0720 hours, ETA: 0920 hours


I was doing this trip on a budget. So, I took the early morning local train to "Trisoolam" station which is in-front of MAA airport. I went little early to airport to be able to tackle time needed for the new security requirements. Early morning is a busy time at MAA's domestic terminal with departures lined up every 15 mins or so. The DN flights depart from "no.2 door" (Departure 2). There was already a queue at 2, so big that it took quite some time to locate its tail end. And it moved slowly. I was in the queue for about twnety minutes and it hardly moved 20 ft. I was starting to get nervous as it was already 5:50 am. Thankfully, one security personnel came announcing that "hand luggage only" passengers can bypass the queue and reach check-in area.

I showed up at the DN check-in. As expected, the queues here were also long. DN had 3 counters at that time. I had a family infront of me who were arguing with DN staff about the weight of their check-in luggage. The argument was getting hot and it showed the symptoms of becoming a fight with either side refusing to relent. Finally the family power prevailed (greatly assisted by the vocal chords of Wife and Mother-in-law).

When finally my turn came, the computer broke down  Sad It was already 6:15 am. DN staff made some frantic calls in wireless sets, with no avail. The check-in staff from other counters came down to see and give some advice. First, they tried the well known Indian method. Keyboard was shaken violentely. Mouse was pulled hard and tapped several times. Monitor banged... nothing happend. Somebody suggested re-booting. Promptly the plug was pulled and re-inserted. It worked!!

I finally had my boarding pass at 6:30 am. I ran to join the swelling security check line. There were only two lines at that busy hour. It too was moving slowly with all the passengers of IC, 9W, S2, 0S etc. When I made it past the security, it was 6:55 am. The IC, 9W and S2 were furiously boarding their Pax. There was no sign of any activity from DN though our flight was to depart at 0720 hours. I waited with other pax at the gate no.1 area for our flight announcement. I had a creeping fear that DN would cancel this flight as flying to IXZ may not be that profitable this morning with all those extra luggages unpaid for.

Suddenly our flight no. appeared on Gate no.3. I was the first to present my BP and board the Bus. Most passengers of DN are first time fliers of great Indian middle class. Nothing wrong with that as I consider myself to be one of them. But this adds to the operational difficulties for an airline like DN since Pax often brake the rules and may not conduct themselves in the expected lines of behaviour. The boarding process was chaotic. Two staris were attached to the aircraft, but only one was manned by the staff. As soon as bus stopped, people ran and started to climb the aircraft from the unmanned rear stair. They had to be pursued from behind and deplaned to collect the ticket stub.

Our aircraft today was VT-ADZ with "Zee TV" stickers and a blue underbelly. DN does not pre-assign seats for their A320s. People rushed to grab the seats which they thought to be the best (All 31" pitch). This caused some commontion, with passengers stranding themselves in aisles unsure about their choice of seat. Some settled for the nearest window seats. Some wanted window and also the whole row for their family. Some tried to fit their luggages in the overflowing holding area. DN FAs looked on from the galley, probably unwilling to risk interfering. It took nearly 30 mins for all the pax to settle down. The time was 0740. Captain came on PA and apologized for the delay. FAs conducted the bilingual security briefing ritual for the amused audience. Finally, we were on our way at 0750, quite acceptable considering the DN standards. We took off towards west and made a sharp 180D turn towards the east, which gave some stunning view of MAA airport.

The rest was unremarkable, except DN beverage service did not had any coffee or tea to buy (though it was a morning flight). As we started to cross Bay of Bengal, FO came on PA and said there was no notable landmark during the course till we reach "North Sentinal" island.



We started the decent at 0950 hours. North Sentinal came into view. Andamans look beautiful from the sky. We overflew some coral rings and southern parts of island with its thick rain forest. After some turning manuevers, we landed at Veer Savarkar airport at 1010.



The disembarkation was equally chaotic. The airport arrivals hall has a small immigration counter. Non-Indian visitors require to get an Inner Line Permit (ILP) to visit islands, which is issued on arrival. The officers were trying to locate foreigners among the crowd, and apparently the best method they have found is to catch them by their skin color. So if you happen to look like a white, you will be "caught" by the smart officers at the IXZ. If you look like a Indain, you can walk straight out of the airport with no questions asked!!! (And India cries big about illegal immigration from Neighbors).




Date: 28th August 2006
Sector: MAA-IXZ
Carrier: Air Deccan
Flight no: DN-710
Aircraft type: Airbus A320
Registration: VT-ADZ
ETD: 0855 hours, ETA: 1100 hours


The return leg was unremarkable.

Few notes about the IXZ airport. The airport was cleaner than the mainland airport. The security at IXZ is probably the toughest of all airports in India. My DN eticket was required to be endorsed. That is, my Photo ID was checked by the DN staff to ensure that I was the actual pax, by matching the name of my ID and ticket. They made me to check-in my bag as I had shaving gel and tooth paste. At MAA, they had let me to take my luggage to cabin and no ID was asked.

It was the usual stuff at the depature gate. A line was formed prior to the boarding by the DN staff. It randomly got split into two at the head with some pushing and shoving from behind. Both claimed they were the orginal and accused the other of lack of manners. When the bus showed up at the gate, the line had become like a hydra head with many branches constantly swaying and shifting.




The bus of IXZ was the strangest airport vehicle I have ever seen. Even my native village in rural India has better buses!



Finally, when the gate opened, the hydra became a bee hive.

The incoming aircraft was late by 25 mins. It was the same aircraft (VT-ADZ). We took off 45 mins behind schedule. There was no coffee/tea in the returning leg. We landed at MAA around 11:50 am.

I think I will stop now. Post your comments and questions! Thanks everyone.

23 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineLAXDESI From United States of America, joined May 2005, 5086 posts, RR: 48
Reply 1, posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 12698 times:

Good Post. Could you please write about accomodation, food, and sightseeing.

User currently offlineB747-437B From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 12698 times:

Ah, what a classic report that truly chronicles the joy of LCC domestic flying in India. The last time I went to IXZ was on a ratty IC 732 from CCU and the airport was literally a shack, a runway and a big tank emblazoned with INDIANOIL stickers. Back in those days "immigration" used to actually ask you a question in Hindi - "Kaha sey ho?" (Where are you from?"). If you understood and replied, you were permitted to proceed - if you stared at him blankly you got nabbed to pay the relevant hafta for the permit. What a beautiful part of the world though!

User currently offlineAbrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5074 posts, RR: 55
Reply 3, posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 12681 times:

Great report. I am going to be in Andamans in 3 weeks and I cannot wait. Actually to those Indian members of this board, and to those who follows India and her aviation market, I promise some cool trip reports  Smile. After that, you can stop calling me "gora" ....  Wink.

-A.



Live, and let live.
User currently offlinePlaneboy From India, joined May 2005, 199 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 12505 times:

Thanks LAXDESI and Sean for your comments!

Details about my Andaman trip is posted in a different web forum. I had given a link in the above trip report.

Quoting Planeboy (Thread starter):
Details about my trip to Andamans can be found here in the India travel forum.

http://www.indiamike.com/india/showthread.php?t=26436

Andamans are still "unspoilt" by Indian tourist management menace. There were no beggars in the island. No one touts around the "goras" to sell them stuff and to make hefty $$$. People are well behaved than the mainlanders. Hope it stays like that forever.

I've heard that the IXZ is part of the Singapore bilateral negotiated by Pee Pee. That is SQ may be allowed to start direct flight to SIN from IXZ in near future. Hopefully Andamans will not become another Thai like resort island.


User currently offlineAbrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5074 posts, RR: 55
Reply 5, posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 12500 times:

Quoting Planeboy (Reply 4):
Hopefully Andamans will not become another Thai like resort island.

= That will indeed be a sad sad thing.

-A.



Live, and let live.
User currently offlineNimish From India, joined Feb 2005, 3212 posts, RR: 9
Reply 6, posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 12469 times:

Great report Planeboy - I have fond memories of my visit to IXZ some 8-9 years ago - where our IC "full-fare" tickets were on waiting list for 2-3 months before they got confirmed. This sector is indeed a huge con game, and I'm glad that the GoI has allowed LCCs like DN to start services to IXZ!

It's really unfortunate that DN is unable to make money from it's Buy-on-board service, they never seem to have what's needed at that time of the day - for instance tea/coffee for an early morning flight, or some sandwiches for a meal time flight.



Latest Trip Report - GoAir BLR-BOM-BLR
User currently offlineAKLDELNonstop From New Zealand, joined Apr 2006, 305 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 12419 times:

Quoting Abrelosojos (Reply 5):
Quoting Planeboy (Reply 4):
Hopefully Andamans will not become another Thai like resort island.

Why not guys? I mean it will be good for the local economy and the livelihood of the people there with all the development that comes with it.
Cheers


User currently offlineKiramakora From Argentina, joined Aug 2006, 547 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 12414 times:

Quoting AKLDELNonstop (Reply 7):
Why not guys? I mean it will be good for the local economy and the livelihood of the people there with all the development that comes with it.
Cheers

Its also detrimental to the local indeginous Andami and Nicobari tribes who have had little interaction with outsiders and whose opinion would not be taken into account as the islands open up. Finally, I think India is better off socially ... economics need not triumph each time and unlike Thailand, India has several avenues of economic progress.


User currently offlineBA319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8486 posts, RR: 55
Reply 9, posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 12309 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Thanks, very interesting stuff.

IXZ is some wierd looking airport.

Thanks

Mark



111,732,3,4,5,7,8,BBJ,741,742,743,744,752,762,763,764,772,77L,773,77W,L15,D10,30,40,AB3,AB6,A312.313,319,320,321,332,333
User currently offlinePlaneboy From India, joined May 2005, 199 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 12130 times:

Thanks Abrelosojos, Nimish, BA319-131

Quoting Abrelosojos (Reply 3):
I am going to be in Andamans in 3 weeks and I cannot wait

Abrelosojos, are you already in India for your IXZ trip? How do you plan to reach there?

Quoting AKLDELNonstop (Reply 7):
Why not guys? I mean it will be good for the local economy

That may be partially true. However, as with the rest of India, the spoils may not go to everyone. Remember, its still a Union territory. It will increase the immigration from the mainland (alreday high) which is not good for the fragile ecology of the islands.

The other concern is about it becoming a heaven of Drug tourism (and Sex toursim as well). Due to its proximity to Burma and Bangladesh, its highly vulnerable to drug smuggling.

When I was there, the news was about few Burmese and Bangladeshi fishing trawlers being caught by the Indian coast guard with Chinese fisherman onboard. (The Chinese have a Naval "listening" station north of Andamans, set up to "spy" on Indian Chandipur missile range and SriHarikota ISRO center, and it is said that they have a habit of sending "fishermen" down the islands with ultra-modern radio sets)

The human traffiking is a real issue. You can always find "agents" who can supply anything, anywhere as long as there is demand. Andmans would be no exception.

Quoting Kiramakora (Reply 8):
Its also detrimental to the local indeginous Andami and Nicobari tribes who have had little interaction with outsiders

Agree with you 100%


User currently offlineAbrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5074 posts, RR: 55
Reply 11, posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 12125 times:

Quoting Planeboy (Reply 10):
Abrelosojos, are you already in India for your IXZ trip? How do you plan to reach there?

= DN ex CCU. Not in India yet.

Quoting Planeboy (Reply 10):
Quoting AKLDELNonstop (Reply 7):
Why not guys? I mean it will be good for the local economy

That may be partially true. However, as with the rest of India, the spoils may not go to everyone. Remember, its still a Union territory. It will increase the immigration from the mainland (alreday high) which is not good for the fragile ecology of the islands.

The other concern is about it becoming a heaven of Drug tourism (and Sex toursim as well). Due to its proximity to Burma and Bangladesh, its highly vulnerable to drug smuggling.

When I was there, the news was about few Burmese and Bangladeshi fishing trawlers being caught by the Indian coast guard with Chinese fisherman onboard. (The Chinese have a Naval "listening" station north of Andamans, set up to "spy" on Indian Chandipur missile range and SriHarikota ISRO center, and it is said that they have a habit of sending "fishermen" down the islands with ultra-modern radio sets)

The human traffiking is a real issue. You can always find "agents" who can supply anything, anywhere as long as there is demand. Andmans would be no exception.

Quoting Kiramakora (Reply 8):
Its also detrimental to the local indeginous Andami and Nicobari tribes who have had little interaction with outsiders

Agree with you 100%

= Thankfully, there are enough Indians who share this view.

Cheers,
A.



Live, and let live.
User currently offlineBlrsea From India, joined May 2005, 1413 posts, RR: 3
Reply 12, posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 12078 times:

Good report! Do you mind revealing the price you paid for the return journey? Was the flight full both ways?

User currently offlinePlaneboy From India, joined May 2005, 199 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 11990 times:

Quoting Blrsea (Reply 12):
Do you mind revealing the price you paid for the return journey? Was the flight full both ways?

I got a fare of Rs.4400 (return, all inclusive), that was in June for the travel in August.

I may need to swallow my words about DN generosity. I checked the fares for some random dates now for Sept/Oct/Nov. They are on par with the ICs and 9Ws. Blame the tourist season.

Good news is, S2 is flying from CCU, and this may put the pressure on others.


User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31667 posts, RR: 56
Reply 14, posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 11895 times:

Great Report.I like the Pictures of the Surroundings very Simple.
regds
MEL



Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlineAbrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5074 posts, RR: 55
Reply 15, posted (7 years 9 months 3 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 11562 times:

Quoting HAWK21M (Reply 14):
S2 is flying from CCU, and this may put the pressure on others.

= Except that some according to S2 CCU CTO, Indian tour group has bought all seats until November or December and it is extremely difficult to get a Y seat on S2 ex CCU/DEL.

-A.



Live, and let live.
User currently offlinePlaneboy From India, joined May 2005, 199 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (7 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 11415 times:

Hello hello,

DN has just released about 300,000 tickets at Rs.6 (according to them).

I can still see some Rs.6 fares from MAA to IXZ in March. Total for return works out to be Rs.2062!

March is still a "high" season and good time to go for islands!

Abrelosojos, how is your Indian trip going?


User currently offlineAbrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5074 posts, RR: 55
Reply 17, posted (7 years 9 months 2 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 11327 times:

Quoting Planeboy (Reply 16):
I can still see some Rs.6 fares from MAA to IXZ in March. Total for return works out to be Rs.2062!

= PM me some dates. I need to go back!

Quoting Planeboy (Reply 16):
Abrelosojos, how is your Indian trip going?

= Really really good. Expect some trip reports soon. I just have not had the time - and have gained a little too much weight from all the stuff I have been eating. My friends here think I am made for India as I can have road-side "pani-puree", my all time favorite "masala Thumpsup", biriyani, and chicken roll and not fall sick. Knock on wood of course.

-A.



Live, and let live.
User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31667 posts, RR: 56
Reply 18, posted (7 years 9 months 2 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 11273 times:

Quoting Abrelosojos (Reply 17):
Really really good. Expect some trip reports soon. I just have not had the time - and have gained a little too much weight from all the stuff I have been eating. My friends here think I am made for India as I can have road-side "pani-puree", my all time favorite "masala Thumpsup", biriyani, and chicken roll and not fall sick. Knock on wood of course

You need to try the BOM Speciality.... The VadaPav.
regds
MEL



Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlinePe@rson From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 19188 posts, RR: 52
Reply 19, posted (7 years 9 months 2 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 11260 times:

Hi Pb,

What an interesting report!

I used MAA a few times earlier this year (BOM-MAA on IC 320, IXM-MAA on 9W AT7 and MAA-DXB EK 772). I enjoyed it, particularly the little viewing gallery atop the international terminal, although the queues were awful (late at night for my EK flight).



"Everyone writing for the Telegraph knows that the way to grab eyeballs is with Ryanair and/or sex."
User currently offlinePlaneboy From India, joined May 2005, 199 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (7 years 9 months 2 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 11230 times:

Quoting Abrelosojos (Reply 17):
= PM me some dates. I need to go back!

Boy, looks like they all already been gobbled up! There seemed to plenty yesterday  Sad Sorry, I couldn't find any Rs.6 fares anymore. But I did some search for you and looks like the lowest fares (ONE WAY) at the moment is this.

Rs.1474 base fare (Rs.2499 All inclusive) ~ USD 55

27 Feb (CCU - IXZ)
25 Mar (MAA - IXZ)

I still believe this is a deal considering the other carriers considering what other carriers charge. This is lower than the cabin class in a ship.

And if you want to get a Rs.6 fare to anywhere else, go grab this.

13 Feb (MAA-DEL, Rs.1031 All inc)

Nice to know that you are enjoying India. Look forward to your reports.

Quoting Pe@rson (Reply 19):
What an interesting report!

Hi Pe@rson, Thanks. MAA is an intersting place. I think its international terminal is still one of the best in India.


User currently offlineAlessandro From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (6 years 10 months 2 weeks 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 9967 times:

Finally some competition, Jet and Indian Airlines been having a nice time on the Port Blair route.
Funny when I got off the ferry a guy start yelling after me, turned out to be the guy collecting the foreigners... Wink


User currently offlineNimish From India, joined Feb 2005, 3212 posts, RR: 9
Reply 22, posted (6 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 9848 times:

Quoting Alessandro (Reply 21):
Finally some competition, Jet and Indian Airlines been having a nice time on the Port Blair route.

Spicejet is launching services to IXZ as well - this time from CCU...



Latest Trip Report - GoAir BLR-BOM-BLR
User currently offlineComorin From United States of America, joined May 2005, 4896 posts, RR: 16
Reply 23, posted (6 years 10 months 2 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 9572 times:

What an excellent trip report! You captured the unique - hydra-headed chaos at the airport very well. Having stood in line at MAA more than once, I know the feeling in the pit of the stomach when you realize it hasn't moved at all! Btw, How insulting to Southeys not to offer coffee on the flight - sacrilege!

I do look forward to seeing more of your trip reports on a.net...


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