Had to fly to DEL and back from MAA on a business trip last month. Normally our company flies us on Air Sahara, but this time for me the ticket was on Indian Airlines on a seven day Apex fare.
IC802 13 DEC MAA DEL 2000/2230 Airbus A 320
Indian Airlines website was showing IC 802 on time at 5 PM so decided to leave for the airport at that time from the office as our office is downtown and evening taffic at Chennai can be chaotic. However it being a saturday roads were relatively empty and that meant I reached very early by 1745. Went inside the terminal but then decided to wait for some time in the general area before going to check in.
Chennai domestic terminal is a joy to use and easily the best one I have come accross in India. Lots of space and really comfortable seating plus a good bookshop as well as a snack bar.
Finally decided to check in around 1815. There was just one counter open for economy at that time, not suprising since the next two flights were the 1945 Alliance Air 737 to Hyderabad and the DEL flight. There were just two people ahead of me so reached the front of the que quickly.
Check in was by one of these oldish typically indifferent IC staff with a very bored "I have seen it all and cant care less" look and attitude. That said the guy was efficient and while certainly not friendly was not rude either. Issued me a boarding pass for a window seat and found I got 9 A which is the second row of economy.
After check in, waited near the check in areas for some time as the flight was not yet called for security check. Meanwhile found that the incoming flight from DEL was showing a 15 min delay and despite the flight information board steadfastly insisting that my flight will take off on time, I was prepared for the delay (since IC is never known to do 30 min turn arounds for a 320 in MAA).
By 7 PM the flight was called for security check. Went throughwithout any problems and since the boarding was through Aerobridge there was no tarmac identification of the baggage. The gate areas are also huge and with comfortable seating both upstairs and downstairs and with a Telecom kiosk as well as a couple of vending machines.
Finally the flight was called at 8 PM and boarded through the aerobridge. The aircraft was barely 30% full and I had the entire 3 seat section to myself. Pushed back finally by 2020 , Un remarkable flight but with good service.
Landed at 2250 , without naking up any time. Bags arrived very quickly to be neutralised by the que in the prepaid cab counter with just one guy attending to about 70 people queing up form different flights. THat siad, my hotel being in Vasanth Vihar meant I was still in bed by 12 .
DEL MAA IC 439 17 DEC 0640/0910 Airbus A320
Was a little worried about whether the fog will cause delays but found to my relief it didnt (the first major disruption was two days later on 19 Dec). Knowing that there are atlast a dozen flights of IC and Alliance leaving before 7 AM, did not want to chance being late and left for the airport by 5 AM, Reached by 5.20 AM to join the the que in the one counter I could see was open for Economy. Que was about 30 people long. Was approached by a IC ground staff to be told that some other counters are open some distance away and went to find those. Managed to find one which had about 10 people in front of me , However the gnetleman manning the counter still didnt appear to have recovered fully from his sleep and was going about his job very lethargically. The girl behind me who was to catch the 0550 flight to Baroda was getting worried but was however recued by another ground staff who came searching for passengers for the Baroda, Ahemedabad and Coimbatore flights all leaving around 6 PM and directed those passengers to another counter. Finally about 20 min later got to the front of the que and was asked for photo identification. Was a little surprised as this was not asked in MAA and in the adjacent counter this demand appeared not to be made. Anyway showed my credit card which had a photo and this was accepted without question. Pointed out that I was not asked this in MAA and was told that "the requirement has always been there" . Later on found that this was indeed correct since I was on an APEX fare and IC requires photo identification for its Apex fare passengers. Anyway got my window seat issed and found it was again 9 A like on the way in.
Cleared secutiy check only to be intercepted by a ground staff who requested me to identify my baggage on the tarmac. Completed the formalities, picked up the free copy of the Hindustan Times available in the gate and waited for the boarding announcement.
Flight was called for boarding by 0615 which I thought was quite early for a 0640 flight. Bussed tothe aircraft and got to my seat to find that this time the flight would be around 80% full. Apparently Indian Airlines staff find these early morning departures in winter very cumbersome. When I boarded some cleaning work was still going on and soon after one afterword one gentleman boards the aircraft , takes off his blazer and metamorphasise himself to an on duty cabin crew! Apparently only in Indian Airlines can one get away with all these even after the boarding is half complete.
Flight pushed back in time but soon afterwards the Captain drawled on the microphone that there will be a 10 min delay for take off due to ATC. Flight was again uneventful , made up the delay and landed on time. The breakfast was hot and good and despite the good load still managed to have the seat next to me empty. Bags took a surpisingly long time to appear considering that there were no other aircraft on the apron (of Indian Airlines).
All in all two good flights. Nothing very remarkable but nothing upsetting either. However I must admit that compared to the last flights I took, there seems to be some slackening in service but nothing major.