As I couldn’t find any other Air Sahara reports on the trip report forum, I thought I would try and make this a bit more detailed. So please bear with me if I had waffled on a bit too much!!
Flight : S2 121
Aircraft : B737-800 VT-SIK
Schedule Departure : 07:10
Actual Departure : 07:16 - Blocks off : 07:07 Taxi: 07:09.
Schedule Arrival : 09:45 Actual : 09:34
Sector : Delhi (DEL) – Bangalore (BLR)
Flight time: 2hrs 20 min.
Got to the domestic terminal at Delhi Airport around 6.30am. Being a Sunday morning, there was not much crowd and went through the usual baggage screening process for the checked-in baggage. Problems straightaway as I had forgotten to take the battery out of my alarm clock, so had to open the bag and take the battery out. I normally remember to do this when leaving the hotel, but on this occasion I blamed the early start for the lapse! One of the annoying things at these baggage screenings is that if your bags is locked by way of a padlock, the “security checked” sticker is wrapped around the padlock, which turns out really messy and sticky when you try and take it off once you get to your destination. On the other hand, if it’s not locked, then a strip plastic tape is wrapped around the whole bags, which makes it neat and easy to peel off afterwards.
My uncle knew the manager at the airport, who in turn had arranged for an employee to help us check-in. Normally only ticket holders are allowed inside the terminal at Indian airports, but this allowed my uncle & aunt to come all the way up to security check!! The upshot(?) of this was we did not even go near the check-in desks, as he checked the bags in and brought the boarding pass to us while we stood chatting. I had hoped for an exit row seat, but because we checked in a bit late, that had already been allocated. Never mind. I was pleasantly surprised to receive a small box of sweets in a Air Sahara branded box which was given to everyone at the check-in desk, which I thought was a really nice touch.
Sahara Goody box
We then proceeded to the departure area via the hand baggage screeners. The important thing to remember at Indian airports is that all the hand luggage should have a hand baggage label, which will get stamped along with your boarding pass. If any of the stamps are missing you were in trouble. I have seen a few being sent back to go through the machines again and obtain the stamps. Luckily there was no hassle here , except they asked me if I had a camera in the bag , which I confirmed and with a smile he stamped my stuff and off we went. There wasn’t a lot of people at the departure gate, and around 06.50 we were called for boarding. Once the boarding passes had been checked, we were all subjected to a hand search of the baggage again! But this was doen not by Security but Sahara employees (Well, they were wearing Air Sahara Uniforms). Once through that we proceeded to the waiting coach.
There were not many passengers on this flight. I was keeping my fingers crossed hoping ours would be a 737-800 as I had not flown on one before and after going around a –400 it was indeed a –800 (VT-SIK) that the coach stopped next to
On boarding the aircraft was greeted by the crew. The cockpit door was open, so had a peek inside! I must say that Sahara employ some really good looking stewardesses! (Competition for Jet Airways!!) There were 6 on ours today and barring the purser and one other female the rest must have been in their early 20's. The Grey with Silver lining saree really suits the female attendants. Males wore black trousers with white shirts. On taking our seats (Which were blue/violet/black combination – I was hoping to take a photo on dis- embarking, but that was scuppered … see below why), I found due to condensation the whole length of the underside of the luggage compartments had water droplets hanging and some were dripping down too. On seeing me looking at that, the friendly steward immediately brought some tissues and wiped the water off with an apology and saying that it was due to condensation because of the doors being left open for a while with the air conditioning still running. I was quite impressed (to use Singapore_Air’s expression!! J) as to the attentiveness and professionlism of the staff.
This particular male steward took a bit of a shining to my wife and they were both flirting with each other throughout the flight. It was quite obvious that the cabin crew were enjoying their work. Lime juice was served, together with hot towels. A pre take-off drink in Economy!! I managed to take a few photos of the various IA
’s and Sahara planes parked nearby. Parked next to us on either side were a Sahara 737-400 VT
-SIJ, 737-800 VT
Air Sahara VT-SIJ
Indian Airlines at Delhi Airport
Then we were offered cotton buds for our ears should anyone needed them. This was the first time I had come across this on any flight, and again I was impressed. I have seen normally sweets being handed out on other flights (remember Sahara did give out a box of then at check-in). Then we were handed out a catalogue from which passengers can bid for items. It was done in aid of a charity that Air Sahara sponsors. More on that later....
As the aircraft was parked in the apron there was no need for push-back, and engines were started at 07:07 hours and at 07:09 we began to taxi. Taxi was quite slow, even though it was only a short taxi to RWY 28. I spotted a Lufthansa 744 at the international terminal.
A view of the International Terminal
and a Gulf Air 330 and a Royal Jordanian were queuing up to take-off after us. We were behind an Indian Airlines A320 (VT-EPT) and we were finally on our way at 07:16. Take off roll lasted only 25 seconds.
Photo of Gulf Air awaiting it’s turn
As soon as the seat belt sign was switched-off the crew handed out headsets. This was unique to Sahara as none of the others offer in-flight music channels on domestic flights within India. There was a choice of 4 channels with English Pop music, Hindi film songs, Easy listening instrumentals and I think the 4th one was MTV selected songs? – I am not too sure.
Breakfast was then served. There was a choice of Veg. or non-Veg. I opted for the Vegetarian and the meal consisted of:
Fresh Pineapple slices
A Bowl of cornflakes
A croissant & Preserves
(It was a lottery whether one got Jam/Marmalade as there was only one of them on each tray)
Paneer (Indian cottage cheese) & peas curry with Nan bread and mixed veg & mashed potato roll.
Photo of AVML Breakfast
The Non-Veg option had Sausages and Masala Omelette and tomatoes.
Milk was brought around mid way through the meal for the Cornflakes with a choice of Hot or Cold milk and also Tea, Coffee and Hot Milk too to drink.
Up to this point I had been taking a few photos and the two younger attendants never said a word, but as I took a photo of the food, the older attendant came up to me and said, “Don’t take photos. It’s not allowed” So feigning ignorance, apologised and put the camera back inside my bag. I must confess I have read from the A.Net forums that no photography was allowed in Indian Air space. Anyway, my philosophy is that there is no harm in trying, and if someone does say anything then apologise and put the camera away! So that was the end of my photos for this journey. I was looking forward to taking some at Bangalore’s new airport terminals
Trays were cleared after a while and the usual mad dash to the toilets began! Why is it that everyone gets the urge to use the toilets immediately after a meal? I was fine as I normally use the one at the Airport before boarding. So unfortunately, I didn’t get the opportunity to do Singapore_Air’s “Sanitary towel absorbency test”!! I am sure he will set that right if he flies Sahara in the near future!! Anyway, I digress. Back to the trip report…...
The purser then announced over the PA that they would be collecting the bids from the passengers in the next 10 minutes. To give you an idea of what was involved, there is a catalogue with 3 sections A,B & C and each containing various small items and each passenger can bid for one item in each category and hand the bid slip to the cabin crew, who will then work out who the highest bidders were in each category and announce up to 10 or so winners before the end of the flight, announce their names over the PA and give them a certificate signed by the cabin crew and all that the winner has to do was take it to the claim counter at the destination airport and pay the bid price and collect the item. Simple! I thought this was a good fun thing for the passengers on the flight to participate, as well as raising money for charity too (as opposed to asking for unused cash etc that BA
normally collects). Almost all the passengers took part in it, ranging from businessmen, tourists and even a couple of children. I am sure the crew on Sahara has to do a bit of extra work in sorting out these on top of their normal duties. Anyway, my bid was not successful, but my wife's was. (Well, I did tease her that her’s was fixed by the young male cabin crewmember she was flirting with!!)
The flight was quite smooth, hardly any turbulence at all. The F/O gave a brief flight routing, which was on take-off a left turn and then overflying Agra, Bhopal, Guwalioor, Hydrabhad and straight on to Bangalore. I did not get the Runway number at BLR but the terminal buildings were on the right as we landed. We were 10 minutes early. We parked at the far right end of the apron, even though one aerobridge was free. The IA
, which left before us from Delhi, was parked at one of the 2 aerobridges. Our plane was now continuing on to Chennai with the same crew. There was one other Jet airways plane, but apart from that the airport was deserted in terms of traffic.
I hadn’t been to BLR for almost four years, and the airport had changed somewhat. Notable absence was the girls welcoming passengers with a rose/carnation flower. Bags came out without much delay and after paying the bid price and collecting the gift we made our way outside.
(All marks given out of 10)
Check-in : (8/10)
Check-in desks were clearly sign posted and were just beyond the security screening area. Staff looked pleasant enough, but as I did not check-in personally, I cannot comment on the efficiency or attitude.
In-flight Service : (10/10)
This being the first time I had flown on Sahara, I was impressed with the overall service. The Crew were friendly and always had a smile and one could see that they enjoyed their work. Aircraft was clean and modern and seats were comfy. Little extra touches like the cotton ear buds, the in-flight biddings/auction was a welcome addition.
Food was Hot and tasty. The pre take-off limejuice and the added extras like hot milk etc was really nice touch.
In-flight Entertainment: (10/10)
Wouldn’t normally have this on a domestic flight, but Sahara did have 4 music channels, which again shows they are trying hard to compete with Jet and IA
Overall : (10/10)
If this flight was indicative of Air Sahara as a whole ,then I would certainly fly them in the future, even to the extent of choosing them over Jet Airways if the choice was available. (I have always flown on 9W
internally prior to now, having had a few bad experiences on Indian Airlines years ago). Reading the in-flight magazine, they are on a real big expansion drive at the moment with new routes, more frequencies and fleet expansion. I think unless IA
improves their image and service they may well be in trouble in a few years time with competition from Jet, Sahara and Deccan Air.
Thanks for your patience. Comments and questions are welcome
People are often unreasonable, illogical and self- centered: Forgive them anyway - Mother Theresa