India Domestic: Indian Airlines, Jet and Sahara
OK, this will be a trip report on the three main domestic Indian careers. It will maybe compare a little, but since the sectors had a different length, it is not very comprehensive in this question. OK, I better get started.
After arriving in CCU, my friends had already planned a trip towards Sikkim. One of them gave me a surprise then: an IC Airline Ticket (I had to unfortunately pay myself ). So, we were supposed to fly to Bagdogra and travel overland towards Sikkim
Flight 1: IC 7221 CCU to IXB (Bagdogra)
Aircraft: A320 (VT-EPC)
Arrived in CCU. No queues at check-in. Lady there interested in everything but doing her job.. Nothing spectacular to say.. proceeded to boarding, which started before it even was announced (since everyone was queuing up). Anyways, flight was less than ½ full, so no big hassle…
Aircraft was clean. One thing I like about the IC aircrafts: They remember me of the glorious 80’s, not much has changed – the big benefit: the seats are broad, the pitch very generous.. indeed very comfortable – the non-economy-scale concept is so much more generous!. Here a look on the cabin:
Note the window to the business-class with the lousy IC logo – well, flight took of on time and was short (45 min), service OK, not special.. one of my friends indeed being bored
One thing I noted are the ladies with the saris on the security cards.. what a “cultural mélange” (sorry for the quality, my digi didn’t want to do better with flash)
food was served, one word: disgusting
sorry I could not take a pic, since strangely, after taking this pic,
the stewardess showed me the finger in a way you show it to small kids if they steel sweets or butter, meaning no pics anymore.. strange. Otherwise, a mix of different FA’s.. some very friendly, some very grumpy. Noteworthy was the amount of FA’s for those few pax – even if the plane had been full, the number would have been great
To describe: a bun with ‘some orange mass in the color of the IC logo’ – and tomato ketchup
Flight was a little late in IXB since we had to queue.. IXB has a military base, and some fighters were to land. Baggage took very long, considering there was hardly anything to unload…
OK, now the overland trip started.. and all of a sudden, after new years, a text message from my girlfriend… she booked a flight to BLR, thinking that it would not matter where she came to India, she would meet me.. – so I had to run to an agent, who made the following arrangement so I could be in two days in BLR:
9W IXB-CCU – 5 hrs layover (which was practical, since I could fetch my suitcase there)
The big problem.. the IC flight was waitlisted – the agent told me to tell them I have an international flight (I was on a US$$ Ticket with 25 % Discount, since I am below 30, which comes cheaper than the INR Rs. Fare) – so I made up a story in my mind.. looked for an office in IXB… arrived, closed.. called them at CCU airport, they told me to call the duty manager (very friendly). Called there, he was on a tea break (at 645 pm in the eve) – called later, had already left… so I called the next morning again, having made up the greatest story why I so desperately need to take the flight… a Punjabi lady responded, in a very loud voice. I wanted to start, she asked for PNR and where I am.. then I said that I am in Siliguri still and arriving CCU with Jet Airways.. She interrupted: “Why Jet??” and made a loud laugh and said finally: “Sir, I confirmed my ticket”. I was on the one side happy that I got the seat, but on the other side sad that I could not tell my story – what a nice lady!
Flight 2: 9W 618 IXB to CCU
OK, I just had to hope that everything will go smooth, since I wanted to arrive in BLR the eve before and arrange hotel etc.. my girlfriend was scheduled to arrive BLR on UL the following morning.. First bad surprise: arriving IXB airport, flight was said to be ½ delayed… bahinch*t, whatsoever, enough time still.. proceeded to check-in.. gave baggage etc.. but boardcard-printer was broken. The lady told me she will check my luggage and bring me the card later.. so I went in the cafeteria with my friends to spend some time with them before.. all of a sudden, the same lady came and gave me the boarding pass.. very nice of her to follow me the long way (well, wasn’t that long since IXB airport is quite small). Seat 17D.
After some time, I proceeded to the gate. Aircraft did not arrive… did not arrive… and no announcements, no information.. no 9W agent there, and security staff did not know.. quite disappointing from 9W.. finally, it arrived
Boarding was quick, aircraft very modern and clean, but the seatpitch – sorry no pics as I accidentally checked in my camera … here, IC beats 9W by far – much more comfortable.. who cares, flight was rather 45 minutes
What I did not like was the way security instructions were done.. the guy was speaking as fast as the people in ads for mortages, when they inform about the risk – not a good performance
But what a brilliant service.. a spicy chicken-rice meal, with salad and dessert, large in quantity, was served immediately, in a friendly and effective manner, with great friendliness and a smalltalk with virtually every pax.. FA’s were beautiful so friendly, have never seen this before, and again asking whether something more is desired.. and that in 45 minutes with a completely full flight.. hey, when they go international, they will kick the b**t of the competitors…
in the end I arrived CCU 1 ½ hrs late, so I had to hurry to my friends home to fetch my suitcase for the coming BLR trip.. and damn.. on the way back, caught in the traffic jam… damn it! I would never make it (and that was the last flight of the day ), nevertheless proceeded.. there, ran to check in and saw the board… flight is 2 hrs delayed!!! Juhuuu! I was never that happy over a delayed flight.. checked in, the lady wanted to apologize for the delay, but I interrupted her and told her that it literally saved my life (my gf would have killed me if I wasn’t there – ladies, ladies…)
So, I was good mooded and boarded the flight
Flight 3: IC xxx CCU to BLR
So, flight was packed and delayed, and I tired and hungry like heck (remember, my camera is still in the luggage )… people quite civilized – it seems like that unless like on international sectors, where flying is the only choice, “decent people” use the aircrafts in India
Food was served immediately.. chicken with bhindhi and rice.. yuuumyyy – good complements… but the service.. since I didn’t have the camera, let me describe the majority of FA’s: if they hadn’t been on board, everyone could have taken 10 KGs more – one of them was quite beautiful, and the other three dinosaurs were bitching about her (I was in the last row so heard things like: “Todays young people don’t have any manners” – or in her face: “Kya karo? [What are you doing?] – This is not the way to do it]. And if someone dared to make another request, they would come with a face and don’t even look at you while serving.. a big shame in my eyes… captain was very nice, apologized more times for the delay and gave a lot of info.. rest of the flight I slept, I woke up with the landing… then 20 minutes waiting before parking place on the Hindustan Airfield was free.. baggage came quickly…
What followed now was an amazing time and overland trip till GOI… now the sad day of separation arrived – my girlfriend decided to take a plane to BOM to catch her UL flight and onwards “down under”, while I booked my flight to DEL from GOI
Flight 4: S2 xxx GOI to DEL
Why am I leaving the aircraft information empty here.. you will see
Our flights were within two hours, while mine was the later one.. my gf checked in, then sad words of good bye… she proceeded towards security.. then MrNiji came in action.. since she had a 12 hours layover in BOM, I thought: “Wait, isn’t it possible I catch the same flight and go in the morning to DEL from BOM? I went to the ticketing counter and explained.. they researched for 20 minutes or so and told me that it would be possible with a small penalty.. and time rushed, since her flight about to take off soon… so they went in full action to change my ticket, called here and there.. the most impressing was that the lady in the ticketing took her walky-talkie and called the check-in agent that another pax is coming.. and that clever lady got the hint and blocked the seat next to my gf… in the end everything worked (special thanks to the S2 crew in GOI!!), I ran to give my baggage.. boarding was already being processed, I decided to hide and go in the last bus and make her a surprise.. and it worked! She literally freaked out – now comes the correct info
Flight 4: S2 xxx GOI to BOM
Flight was short, food was served though, in a OK quality (definitely great for such a short flight) – FA’s were friendly but a little helpless – aircraft was clean, seatpitch in my eyes better than with 9W, but not to compare with IC
Then, before approaching BOM, we were told that BOM runway was shut down before, so we had to wait in the queue (we were 8th) – who cares, it gave me more time with my lovely.. this explains why I did not take pics., I had better things to do..
Landing, and then another ½ hr in the aircraft.. because some VIP was on the field.. probably the Vice-secretary for Education from Bihar or so.. anyways, everything went fine..
Spent the day in BOM, and then flagged her off
I had 5 hrs to spend in the night and was annoyed I could not meet the BOM a.netters who I informed the days before.. but as you see, BOM was not planned until the last minute.. now Karan (Karan69) and MEL (HAWK21m) come in scene.. too bad we did not have that list that time.. because we were very close to each other.. when I entered the cyber café at Terminal 1, Karan had just left, and Mel was close.. too bad… so I tried to spot a little at the international terminal. I tried to seek for holes at the very left wall of the terminal building, no way… then a smart auto-driver saw me and told me to come with him.. he took me to the other end and showed me a nice hole, so I invited him for a chai.. we kept on chatting a little… this was soooo smart!
Now comes the rest.. went to the cyber, checked in, got seat 5C from the nice agent (S2seem to have nice ground handling people)
Flight 5: S2 xxx BOM to DEL
then went in the aircraft.. flight was full and on time.. as a matter of coincidence one of the FA’s recognized me as he saw me on the GOI flight… – but after breakfast, which was served improfessionally and then fell asleep for the rest.. woke up in DEL, went to the conveyor belt, fetched one piece, had to use the bathroom, came back… no more luggage coming… madarch*t! So I went to give a complaint and found my second suitcase there.. they just secured it so it was not stolen, which was nice..
Small conclusion… Well, if I had the choice, I would definitely choose 9W – they are brilliant… my second choice would be IC (despite horrible service – but previous IC flights of mine were great, so it is a matter of good luck), since they have comfortable planes and credit me mileage for my AF account… S2 would be my last choice, which does not mean anything: Indian domestic civil aviation in terms of service is far beyond the civil aviation in many other countries.. here, flying remains a real experience and not just a transport from A to B… and isn’t that the reason we are at a.net, since we want to discuss different distinguished experiences of flying rather than only talking about the economics behind??
Thank you, I am too lazy to proof-read now, hope you enjoyed anyways.. not a conventional report!