So anyways, moving on, The 380 is in India from the 6th to the 10th of May 2007 and my promotional flight was on the 7th afternoon. The estimated time of departure was 17:30 hours. So we reach the Hajj Terminal in DEL at around 15:45, it was the first time that I had ever visited the special Hajj terminal and was Infact surprised to see it. Its basically a HUGE hangar which seems to have been converted into a terminal.
We drove right up to the entrance of the terminal where we were greeted by smartly dressed IT employees and amongst us were huge signs which read “KINGFISHER – Be the First to Fly on the 380”. At the main entrance we were checked for our passes, etc and were soon let in. IT had set up a mock check in centre with 3 desks where you basically checked in and were handed over your boarding passes. I got mine which IMHO was very cool as it read “FROM: Delhi TO: The Good Times”, this was in total IT fashion!
Moving on, we entered this large hall which was wall to wall carpeted in red, to the left was the bar where you could help your self to champagne or beer or juice, etc. The terminal had been reduced in size with a black cloth divider, one side said “MEDIA”- where the main press conference was taking place with Vijay Mallya, John Leahy and Kiron Rao. To the right was the “BOARDING”- from where you got check again and entered and stood in line for security and further on moving to the gate.
As we entered, we proceeded to the “MEDIA” room which was totally jam packed with photographers, journalists and other media, again it was done up very very nicely in red and there were hot IT F/A’s all over the place. The MEDIA room was however very very hot, apparently the press conference was supposed to be at the famous Taj Mahal Hotel in Delhi, but the venue got changed last moment and hence the press conference at the Hajj Terminal itself.
The press conference was quite interesting, it was the first time I had seen Dr. Vijay Mallya himself and I was dying to get my hand on the IT scale models lying on the press conference table! Unfortunately I would have got into trouble it I tried to steal them!
Anyways we walked in and out of rthe press conference as it was very hot to sit inside, so we sat around in the main hall for a while lookin at all the luminaries of the Indian govt. and various other fields walk in. It was then that we got the news that this flight was only for VVIP’s and the media was not allowed at all on the flight. Hearing that, we got kind of excited because that meant we would get the first few interior shots on the big bird in India.
Then it was announced that those persons of the media who had submitted their names before hand to the organizers would get the change to go to the tarmac and take photographs/videos with Dr. Mallya, John Leahy and our Civil Aviation Minister, Mr. Praful Patel. Unfortunately I hadn’t given my name because I would have loved to go around the place to take some photographs with my fish eye lens.But anyways we just kept sitting as the media lined up one by one to go outside on the tarmac for their photo opportunities.
After about 15 mins of sitting around and staring at people, this security officer came up to us as informed us that cameras would NOT be allowed on board and hand baggage would also strictly be not allowed. Hearing this, my heart kind of sank… I mean, whats the point of flying the A380 if your not allowed to have your cameras along with ya? Lol. But anyways, once we cleared security, we just walked through with our cameras; they obviously realized that it was silly to not let us take cameras on board.
While standing in line for security, Dr. Mallya was standing behind us and it was rather amusing because this waiter came up all dressed up and stood next to him and opened him a diet coke and poured it into a glass and handed it over to him. He stood there sipping his diet coke happily until we advanced in the line to the actual security point. At security it was the normal drill, cameras thru the X-ray and we were frisked by officers, the guy who was checking me was very amused that I had 2 cell phones, it was hard to explain to him that one is cheaper to use than the other while roaming.. plus on one I have free texting and calls to my girlfriend… haha.. yea I know im a good boy friend!
Moving on, since there are no aero bridges at the Hajj Terminal, we walked out through the gate and onto the tarmac and were just totally AWE STRUCK seeing the A380 stand there in Full Airbus colours!! I had seen the 380 before in Singapore in SQ colours, but I was still just enamoured…. I mean it felt like someone had punched me in the face and I couldn’t breathe and my attention was just 100% stuck on the beautiful girl. As we walked ahead, Dr. Mallya’s ACJ (VT-VJM) was parked next to the A380 and looked like a little midget compared to her!
We soon were ushered onto the tall steps which led into the lower deck front door and on the way the Airbus security personnel checked or boarding passes and tore off the counter foils and were asked to proceed into the aircraft. Before I go any further, I must say that if you are an avid photographer, this is the most frustrating point, people are waiting in line behind you and all you want to do it get the pictures from all the angles and views…. Lol… but anyways we had to move on.
As we entered the cabin, we were greeted again by very good looking and friendly IT F/A’s who mistakenly sent us to the main deck for some reason and once an Airbus official checked out boarding passes, we were told to go upstairs to the J class cabin on the upper deck. So we climbed up the huge stairs in the front and found a nice window seat to sit down on right behind the airbus testing equipment. It was kind of cool, because being behind that equipment; it felt as if we were in to cockpit because all the flight information was available to us!
The first thing I noticed was the tail camera was on, and I got very excited because this was the first time that I have ever seen these cameras installed. So anyways, I sat down, got my camera ready and stuff, played around with the different camera modes on the IFE, etc. I then decided to walk around the cabin, so I walked towards the back of the upper deck where Airbus has installed Y class seating, and took some cabin shots.
We were waiting in the cabin for almost 45 mins before everyone had boarded, the special thing about this flight was that every person on board, was a special invitee of either Airbus or Vijay Mallya, so we really had the cream of the Indian aviation world on board with us.
Soon, at around 17:23 we pushed back and It was quite a sight, because we could see a few hundred people standing there waving to us through the nose wheel camera! It was a rather nice feeling. The Captain came on the P/A and told us that we would be airborne in about 5 minutes from now and that we should fasten our seat belts and get ready for take off. The normal drill happened, the safety video was shown and announcements were made by the IT F/A’s in both English and Hindi.
I was monitoring out movement thru the camera and in about 5 minutes we reached the threshold of RWY 10 and as we turned onto the RWY, the capt announced that we will be taking off now. WE turned on the runway and immediately, the HUGE RR engines were fired up and we were zooming down the runway!!
I have to mention here, as it has been mentioned before, that , when the engine is revving up, there is very little noise in the cabin, I was shocked to realize that we were at almost full power and the noise levels (In the cabin) were very very low. We soon took off with a nice vapour formation on the wing just as the nose wheel lifted off…
As we got airborne, we banked hard to the right, turned south towards Jaipur and Jodhpur and kept ascending to our assigned flight level of FL 360. Once we reached FL 150, the captain came on the P/A and told us that we were now free to move about the cabin and enjoy the 380 as much as we could. He also mentioned that we took off from DEL , turned right heading south and would fly to Jodhpur where we would do a loop and turn around and fly over Jaipur (JAI) where we would begin our descent into DEL. He also mentioned that we had achieved our cruising altitude of FL 360 in just 20 Minutes after take off, which is apparently quite a feat for this aircraft.
Once we reached FL 360, this is where the real fun began, as alcohol is banned on domestic flights I had no intentions of getting and alcohol on this flight, but once we ere cruising, I heard a simultaneous pop of champagne bottles and to my surprise, the A380 was flooded with the best champagne and little nibbles to eat!! The part which I enjoyed the most was the IT F/A’s walking around with trays FULL of chilled Kingfisher beer cans!! Whoo hoo… I love Kingfisher beer and it was even cooler drinking it on board the A380 with Dr. Vijay Mallya on it!!
I polished off my beer and went for a little walk around the huge ship. While walking down the main stairs, VJM was standing there escorting various ministers and luminaries into the cockpit, I politely asked one of the Airbus officials if it was ok to visit the flight deck and get some photographs, and he went in and checked with the Captain who gave me the green signal. So in I went, and was just awe struck once again, I like the position of the flight deck in the 380, you basically have to climb a few stairs to the flight deck from the main deck. So its really in between the upper deck and the lower deck! In the cockpit, I sat on the centre jumpseat to get some photographs, which I did… then I was wondering why I was feeling funny and heavy, it was then once I looked at the artificial horizon that we were banking sharply to the left, doing our loop over Jodhpur. You get such a great view from the 380 flight deck, the windows are just massive! I shook hands with the captain and the first officer, these two guys were definitely the coolest guys onboard that plane! I mean we had all these ministers going up to them and talking to them and thanking them. For me, out of all the people on board, these two guys were definitely the coolest!!
I then walked around again getting more photographs of the plane, on this I noticed is that its very hard to get pics of the wing and engines because there is this silly plastic sheet between you and the actual window… so your photography is limited, thankfully your view is not!
We went through some turbulent patches, which just felt like little bumps, this biggie really takes the bumps very very very very very well. I am paranoid about turbulence, but on this beauty, I honestly didn’t feel it as bad!! At this point I ran back to my seat to get my flight log, I handed it in to the cockpit and the pilots nicely signed it for me and I manged to get to signed from our Civil Aviation Minister, Mr. Praful Patel also, I wanted the signatures of John Leahy and VJM too, but they were too busy doing their usual things with the big wigs of the country.
One thing I noticed is that John Leahy seems to totally adore VJM, I mean they were always together.. it was amusing, it seemed like a puppy following his owner all around the place… the puppy being Leahy and the owner being VJM.
After I got my flight log signed, we were told to get back on our seats as we had started our descent into DEL. So I sat down and got my video camera ready for our landing. WE were seated for a good 30 mins before we actually touched down, after we circled DEL 3 times, all very sharp banks. Finally, the runway was in sight on the tail camera, the sun had set already so the runway was lit up beautifully. Soon we were over the threshold and touched down quickly.
I must add that, the landing was extremely smooth and slow, once we landed, everyone broke out into clapping and a joyous mood was cast all over the plane. This airbus lady announced that she hope we enjoyed their plane and hoped to see us on a commercial 380 in the near future.
Once we were parked back at the Hajj terminal, and the steps were connected, we disembarked quickly and my historic A380 flight had ended! As I was walking away, I just stared at her, she was just such a beauty! I mean with the interior lights on, she was just magnificent!!
I then was driven airside back to the domestic terminal from where I got a cab home!
The A380 is really a great plane, its unfortunate for Airbus that they had so many problems getting them out there, ofcourse, the main advantage is that it is quiet as hell, there is no noise from the air rushing by while crusing or from the engines.
Further, I would like to comment that this giant really takes turbulence very very well, I mean its such a stable plane its incredible.
I have to add that you really need to fly on this beauty to really fall in love with it. And I think that is what Airbus is doing, even the hardest of hard Boeing fan will find it hard not to fall in love with the A380 once you fly on it.
So heres, the Airbus and aviation! Hope you guys enjoyed the Trip report, please ask me anything you wanna know and please leave any comment!
Thanks for readying