I had to go to the Vidarbha region for a couple of days on work over March 10-11, so I asked my office to book me on the morning flight on the 10th, and because 9W
was a bit later than IC
's inordinately early 0615 departure, I chose the 0705 flight, 9W
-111. Despite planning the trip just two days in advance I got a Rs 7740 return fare, the regular full-fare Y class on this sector is Rs 6700 one-way.
Checking-in at BOM's redone Terminal 1-B took forever because the group ahead of me was travelling to Bagdogra (IXB) via Kolkata (CCU) and they hadn't booked tickets on one folder, it was rather crazy, but things were only going to get worse, because the line for security was huge, snaking back the entire length of the terminal. 26 flights operate out of that terminal between 0600-0800 and the two security points were overwhelmed. It took me 45 minutes to get through security, once across, I got onto a bus to take me to my plane, new terminal it might be, bit jetbridges is still an alien concept.
As I moved to the plane, the sun was rising in the background and clicked some shots of the aircraft on the private airlines tarmac.
We got seated on VT
-JND a not-so-new new 737-800 in 9W
's fleet, because I had demanded a window, I had got the only window seat left, on the last (non-reclining) row 31F. Take-off was delayed because passengers were taking forever to clear security, so for the first time in my life I experienced a delay due to slow airport security. Well, at least that allowed me to catch an Etihad A340-300 land. Soon after the last ten passengers boarded, we proceeded to the treshold of 27 for takeoff and after letting a IC
and Deccan 320 land and a Qatar A300 take-off we zoomed into the smoggy Bombay skies.
The last row did allow for some clean pictures. Soon after takeoff I caught the Juhu airfield and Juhu Beach.
The weather over Maharastra had been very unseasonal of late thanks to some western disturbances, but the clouds made fort some pretty pictures.
But they made for a very bumpy ride as we descended, the 737 was shaken about all over the place as it descended into Nagpur thank god they got breakfast finished on time, definately some of the most violent turbulence I've ever experienced, so landing felt better than it had in a long time, I liked getting back on solid ground. Even if it was raining a lot. Nagpur's tarmac had some oddities, a dilapidated old Boeing 707 (or was it a 720) wearing some air-taxi-service markings stood closeby as did a non-regular commercial plane a Kingfisher A320 VT
-KFK (their latest) which was supposedly on route-proving trials, maybe BOM-NAG will get another much needed flight (currently it has five, two 9W
, two IC
and one Deccan)
The return journey the next day was not as dramatic, I reached the airport early because I had managed to get in Nagpur fairly early. The Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar International terminal follows the same format of many of India's smaller airports, there is almost no variation in design, but for an airport that has barely ten flights a day it is fairly large. The international designation is thanks to one Air Arabia flight six times a week to Sharjah.
While I waited for 9W
-115 from BOM to arrive as the same plane would become 9W
-116 back to BOM, the daily 9W
flight to DEL
took off and so did the evening IC
flight for BOM. Eventually 9W
-115 came in, 40 minutes late, and therefore despite a superquick turnaround 9W
-116 was running 25 minutes late. The plane was one of Jet's six remaining 737-400's - VT
-JAT. I had flown on this very plane many times before like I had on some of its sisters VT
-JAM, JAN, JAS and JAR.
The speed of the turnaround caught the cabin-crew unawares, and they had to hurry through their safety demo, the speed caught the announcer unaware as well and she made quite a few mistakes. Maybe 9W
should move to a pre-recorded movie, even if that means installing some drop down LCD
screens. That said, the Deccan flight from NAG-HYD behind us turned around even faster, but maybe that was because it was an ATR.
The flight was uneventful, and the dinner of Chicken Biryani was quite nice. But once we got to BOM airapce I knew there was trouble because I saw over four planes in the skies around us, we were 15th in the landing queue, which meant that for half an hour we got an aerial guided tour of New Bombay and Panvel. It almost took forever to land, but eventually at 1145 we did. Instead of arriving at 1040, we came in over an hour late. It was very frustrating, but with security delays in the morning, a knock-on is expected.
The tarmac had quite a few other planes at night, I saw two Kingfisher jets and a couple of Go planes, along with the usual mix of 9W
planes. I also saw the Deccan ATR which has RK
Laxman's 'Common Man' painted on it. Because Terminal 1C is being redone we were bussed top Terminal 1A and on the way I saw both VT
-SCA and VT
-SCB Indian's new A319's. I even caught one on camera, even though its a dark shot.
Not my best trip by far!