Abrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5144 posts, RR: 54 Posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 18225 times:
Feedback always appreciated.
Trip Report: 012
Flight Category: Y-DMR (See Report End)
Dep.Arr.Time: 0915/1115/02:00hrs (Delayed by 01:10hrs)
Flight: AIR DECCAN, DN 698, 808 miles
Seat: Economy, 13A (Free Seating)
I > Background:
Part of a month long amazing passage to India for a wedding, with some stops in Asia to see friends. Routing was CCS-MIA-EWR-SIN-CGK-SIN-CCU-DEL-CCU-BOM-CCU-IXZ-CCU-IXA-GAU-CCU-SIN-ICN-YYZ-EWR-CCS with a mix of J and Y class of travel. This focuses on the S2 segment from CCU to BOM. Other trip reports for this trip will be EWR-SIN (SQ/J-Cabin), SIN-CGK (KI), CGK-SIN (VF), CCU-DEL (SG), DEL-CCU (IC), IXZ-CCU (DN), CCU-IXA (CD), IXA-GAU (IT), GAU-CCU (6E), CCU-SIN (SQ/J-Cabin), and ICN-YYZ (AC/J-Cabin). I think these reports will be “firsts” for revenue flights on CD, IT (mainline) and 6E and cover IXA, GAU, IXZ-CCU, and CCU-DEL for the first time on Airliners.Net.
The Andaman Islands were absolutely amazing. I am a beach snob and these islands definitely rank as one of the best in the world. Making it special is the fact that some of these islands are COMPLETELY empty. For those in Venezuela, think Los Roques without the people. Along with Cayo Santa Maria (Cuba), Los Roques (Venezuela), the Andamans have the best beaches I have ever been on … and making it better is the virginity of the beaches. I have put some pictures at the end of the report.
II > Pre-Flight:
a) Before Airport:
Booking for the sector was done using Air Deccans website (www.airdeccan.net). Since we tried to get the cheapest tickets, we had been monitoring the site daily to see when they would open the CCU-IXZ-CCU sector. DN announces this date on the website and surely enough as soon as the sector opened, we were trying via phone and online to buy tickets. I don’t think DNs site is ready for the challenge and it took us over 20 attempts including several timeouts before being able to buy the ticket. Probably for the best since we locked on to an extremely good deal. DNs site is above average and lets users view, modify and cancel reservations online. Of course in line with DN’s free-seating policy, such is not provided on the site.
b) At Airport:
Port Blair airport is a shack and obviously they are not prepared for the sudden multitude of flights into the island. From 2 CD connections per day, the airport has explored to have 3 IC/CD flights, 2 DN, 2 9W, and one on S2. Our flight (along with all other airlines except 9W) from the previous date was cancelled due to airport closure, and the toll of the cancellation was obvious. Those passengers offloaded on the day prior had to be accommodated on DNs flights for the next 4 days and be provided no accommodation. Of course, security had to be called to calm irate passengers. I have a sneaking feeling that low-cost airlines in India will continue to suffer from their lack of airline partnerships (and ability to cross-endorse) – given high yield traffic will continue to avoid them (unlike Europe/Americas), it will be interesting to see how these LCCs turn profit.
Anyways, check-in was a disaster and the queues were LONG. Moreover, the DN counter had this one guy who would come up and make arbitrary decisions on how the line should look like. My friends on the trip were absolutely amused when I blew it and gave the guy a very big piece of my mind. Needless to say, he did not bother the line anymore again. There was no announcement of delays and when I finally reached the counter, I was assigned a pre-printed dot-matrix boarding pass on which the ground staff wrote just my first name. Since the security room was small, we were not called for security check until 45 minutes prior to scheduled departure. In the meantime, I walked around the inadequate airport – some airline offices, 1 café with no food items (“they had run out”), and an internet/long distance phone booth. We rushed to have security check done and was soon in the tiny holding room awaiting boarding.
Boarding was chaotic – but this time it was justified as DN offers free-seating. Having now been accustomed to the Indian way, I stood in line and finally made it to the very crowded DN bus. Boarding was done on the airport apron as passengers rushed from the bus to the ladders for embarkation. I was number 4 and was able to rush to the emergency exits. The cabin crew just stood and watched in amusement. What was very noticeable was the diversity of the passengers – many of whom were flying for the first time. While we all have different opinions about DN, no one can deny its tremendous impact on the Indian traveling population. In all the excitement, I had forgotten the time and when push-back finally happened, we were an hour and ten minutes behind schedule. No announcements/apologies were made on the reason for the same. Y class load was 100%.
Airport - External:
(Crowded Port Blair airport)
(Huge lines at our counter …)
Airport - Internal:
Scenes of the tarmac:
(The mad-rush to get onboard)
(Picture of the bus taking us to the aircraft – courtesy A.Net member Planeboy)
a) Service Schedule + Impressions:
Post reaching cruising altitude, FAs came in with food sales and then the in-flight auction where you get to bid for an eclectic selection of goodies including USB drives, pearl necklaces (!), and sportswear. Very random indeed.
b) Aircraft + Seats:
Air Deccan’s 320 were presentable and clean. Every part of the plane (including the luggage compartments) was adorned with advertisements. Bathroom was clean. Seat recline and pitch was both above industry average – and actually on the generous side for an LCC.
(Taken during outbound flight ex-CCU. Same aircraft was used inbound on this flight)
Views from Aircraft:
(DN to MAA)
Seat Recline + Angle View:
(Note the advertisements)
c) Meal + Beverage:
DN charges you for everything – including water! However, their in-flight menu is abysmal and everything seems to be missing. I had tried their very soggy and stale vegetable sandwich on the inbound sector, so avoided buying anything this time around. From my friends, I made a wise choice. Furthermore, both inbound and outbound flights did not have hot water, and thus coffee and tea could not be sold. Found this super strange given the early morning nature of the flights, and also because Indians LOVE tea. Mr. Gopinath could definitely have made more inflight sales if tea was available and this in turn could cushion the huge lose this quarter!
(Food Purchase Menu)
d) Inflight Entertainment:
No video or music, and an inflight magazine that was more propaganda than anything. Basically compilation of all these newspaper articles covering all the milestones DN had reached in 3 years. I liked their 98.3% on-time performance boasting ads – this was done in ONE month out of 36 in operation and they felt it was important to advertise the same. What made me laugh was that the magazine cover and the chairman’ introductory letter differed on the actual percentage of on-time flights … though, to be fair, they were off by .3% - but still – hehe!
Good crew who now understand the passengers they are dealing with. Not the charming sort, but more like the efficient machines found on board LH/OS/SK. They know their clientele and can handle them well. Nothing more than flight service dictates.
Baggage arrived at CCU terminal fast. Disembarkation was done using buses.
Calcutta Airport – Shot from tarmac – think this would be rare here:
V> Impressions + Scores:
You get what you pay for on Air Deccan. Our flight was cancelled the day before and we were on our own. Thankfully, we got the flight the day after and were able to find accommodation. DN feels like a cheap airline – this is reflected on the ground and on the options in air. They will not win any service awards; however, as a method of transporting a billion people, they come up pretty well. I would definitely fly DN if the cost differential was huge. HOWEVER, if costs differential was not huge, I would probably look at any other airline (bar S2) in India. Of course, this price sensitivity is probably greater for first time flyers in India.
(Note on Codes: Y – Economy, J – Business, F – First :: I/D – International/Domestic :: SR/MR/LR – Short/Medium/Long Haul :: I have designed these codes so people don’t believe my scores are comparing apples and oranges)
VII> Other Pictures:
(Scenes from the tarmac @ CCU)
(The beautiful Andaman Islands – some courtesy A.Net member on trip, kiramakora)
Gamps From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 469 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (8 years 8 months 1 week 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 17997 times:
Quoting Abrelosojos (Thread starter): They will not win any service awards; however, as a method of transporting a billion people, they come up pretty wel
Quoting Abrelosojos (Thread starter): While we all have different opinions about DN, no one can deny its tremendous impact on the Indian traveling population.
Quoting Abrelosojos (Thread starter): They know their clientele and can handle them well. Nothing more than flight service dictates.
Absolutely right on the money here!
My experience recently on Air Deccan mirrors yours.
* Delayed flight - no announcement whatsoever even when flight is delayed by 90 minutes. When asked "if inbound flight is on time" I was met with blank stares.
* Absence of Tea / coffee - I believe this is part of the "low cost" model. Because I have never seen an Air Deccan flight with hot beverages. I flew during rainy season and there were so many people asking for tea/coffee with FAs. Anyone know if not having oven, heater reduces cost (big numbers)?
* FAs do know finer aspects of "crowd control". Probably a reflection of new fliers Deccan is attracting, the moment plane landed people were jumping up and FAs had to use everything in their disposal to keep them down. (did not see the same behavior by passengers while on Jet/Kingfisher on the same sector)
Having said that, as you observed Deccan is attracting people who earlier never considered air travel. Once all Indian states reduce tax on Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) - some states have 30-40% sales tax on ATF - IMO aviation boom will continue upwards.
Question on Andaman - did you have to get any foreigner permit to enter? If so is it a simple process? Did anyone care to check that or is it no longer a requirement?
Semsem From Israel, joined Jul 2005, 1779 posts, RR: 3
Reply 9, posted (8 years 8 months 1 week 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 17816 times:
Maybe I missed it but how much did you pay for Calcutta to Port Blair? How long is the flight? I read that they are planning to build new hotels there. The accommodations if I am correct are pretty spartan?
Did they not have a tsanumi there a few years ago?
Was Calcutta interesting? How long is the flight and cost from Delhi to Calcutta? Thanks.
Planeboy From India, joined May 2005, 199 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (8 years 8 months 1 week 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 17652 times:
Good report! DN seem to be good at providing consistent LCC experience especially in IXZ sectors
I read in a newspaper (Business standard?) that Andman hotels were bursting with tourists in the first two weeks of October. Thanks to the increased frequency of planes from mainland. And the proper tourist season is not yet started...
Abrelosojos, what places you been to? Havelock, Neil, Little Andamans? Were you with a tour operator or did it alone?
Abrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5144 posts, RR: 54
Reply 14, posted (8 years 8 months 1 week 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 17611 times:
Quoting Planeboy (Reply 12): I read in a newspaper (Business standard?) that Andman hotels were bursting with tourists in the first two weeks of October. Thanks to the increased frequency of planes from mainland. And the proper tourist season is not yet started...
= Very true. Its amazing how the little islands have taken off. All flights were cancelled when the airport was closed on Oct 6th and it meant many people camping. Thankfully, we were connected .
Quoting Planeboy (Reply 12): Abrelosojos, what places you been to? Havelock, Neil, Little Andamans? Were you with a tour operator or did it alone?
= Went to Havelock, and then some other islands using a pre-approved "license" from GOI. Best parts of Andamans are not in the guide books. Went with 7 Indians - led by a good Indian friend who works in Delhi and knows Indian bureaucracy. He is an A.Netter as well.
AKLDELNonstop From New Zealand, joined Apr 2006, 326 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (8 years 8 months 1 week 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 17475 times:
Hey Nice report,
Im beginning to enjoy the Abresolojo School of Report Writing(ASRW). Good to read.
And btw Andamans look beauiful mate.
Also u r rite bout DN, they will never win service awards but they have managed to make air travel a commodity in India. They claim that 40% of their pax on all their flights are first time fliers. Thats pretty impressive. They claim to be airBUS and are nothing more than that so service i dun think will change on DN
Quoting AKLDELNonstop (Reply 16): Im beginning to enjoy the Abresolojo School of Report Writing(ASRW). Good to read.
= Thank you very much. This means a lot to me. I will try to keep the reports from diverse travels coming. I usually fly a lot - but had to overcome the slight embarassment of appearing a first-time flyer (especially when doing J) as I took pictures of (um) random things like airline meals . Happy I can contribute more on this board. Again, thanks so much for the kind words.
AKLDELNonstop From New Zealand, joined Apr 2006, 326 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (8 years 8 months 1 week 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 17370 times:
Quoting Abrelosojos (Reply 17): I usually fly a lot - but had to overcome the slight embarassment of appearing a first-time flyer (especially when doing J) as I took pictures of (um) random things like airline meal
You must have got a few interesting stares.
I will goto Oz soon and I intend to shamelessly plagiarise ASRW for my trip reports.
PLANAR From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 155 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (8 years 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 16276 times:
My Dad is in Indian Air Force and was posted to Andamans for quite some time.
Hence, I vividly remember the beautiful holidays we had there. Its a place, people have yet to discover.
In fact Andaman and Nicobar Islands are probably the only place in earth, where some really primitive tribes still live and are untouched from civilizations outside. The Indian government has made sure that they are not disturbed.
Hence why, most Islands are restricted for tourists or any visitor for that matter and access to any place outside Port Blair (capital city of Andamans) is strictly governed by Govt. of India.