Let me give a summary of yesterday's exciting activities.
I couldn't get gate information anywhere on the internet so I decided to head to the terminal itself and check out the new ticket counter itself. I found that the gate was 105 (on the south side of TBIT).
The ticket counter was well decorated, with an "arch" of red and white balloons welcoming passengers and decorative ornaments everywhere. Passengers were being treated to samosas and kids were getting free ballons. All passengers were offered nice Air India sashes with the Indian flag attached. Festive mood.
I still didn't know which runway Konark would be using for landing. Many flights land on the north side (usually runway 24R) and then go around the west side of the complex and taxi over to TBIT. That runway, for me, was a better spot for photography, so I made a calculated risk and headed over to the north side of the airport and took my position.
I knew the plane was expected to come in around 4:15. It was funny--I was nervous as I looked all over the sky for signs of VT
-ESM. I spotted the unmistakable shape of the 744 at about 4:05. What a rush. It floated in beautifully, terrific landing, wheels touching down at exactly 4:10 pm. Very exciting. I started to hike back to my car, with the intention of getting back to the terminal in a hurry to get shots of it pulling into the gate. On the way, I noticed Konark getting a water cannon salute on the west end of the LAX
facility (near the remote parking bays) as it headed around to the south end of TBIT. That was cool.
I jumped in my car and sped to the airport, parked, and got there just in time to see mighty Konark being towed in to gate 105. Some of the passengers were observing this as well (from the outside, not inside the terminal). What a special moment. I know there are people who really dislike the AI
livery, but I think it is absolutely gorgeous. The jharoka window motifs, Indian flag, and "Your Palace in the Sky" touches are beautiful, IMHO. Such a majestic plane.
I then went inside and got some shots of the bird from inside the terminal. By this time, the lines at the ticket counter had grown really, really long for the return flight 136 back to Frankfurt. Nice to see a full flight. Some of the passengers I spoke to seemed excited to be on the inaugural LAX
-BOM service, as they should be. I was envious.
It was soon clear that the flight would be late. The electronic departures board indicated an on-time departure of 7:10, but it was clear that it was wrong. Apparently, not all passengers were checked in. An LH
744 for Frankfurt left at 7:07, right on time. AI
136 was supposed to follow only 3 minutes later.
I decided to take up my spot at Imperial Hill on the south side, expecting a departure on Runway 25R. It was getting dark quickly--bad news as far as takeoff shots were concerned. Konark finally pushed back at 8:11 pm, just over an hour late. I noticed that the wing inspection lights (on the fuselage, above the landing lamps on the wing root) appeared to be left on. The bird taxied to 25R and took off at 8:32 pm. I watched it head out into the sky, over the Pacific, and then make a big left turn to the south on its way to Frankfurt.
It's great having Air-India at LAX