In the month of Feb, I was informed that I need to travel to Jo'burg for a presentation, and the first thing that came up in my mind was Jet Airways!! :P
launched a daily direct flight from their hub in BOM
last year just before the FIFA
World Cup. JNB
was their first and to date only African destination (if you discount the code share with KQ
). However later tht year they reduced the service to 5-weekly.
Fingers crossed , I prayed for the dates to fall in place. And mercifully I had to fly out on Sunday night(technically monday) and 9W
did operate their JNB
service that day. My agent had by default given me an itinerary on EK
(The default choice always is either EK
) and I requested him to change it to 9W
. Since the fares werent markedly different he was able to change it.
As luck would have it I had trouble getting my SA
visa stamped. My passport did not come out on time and that meant I could not fly Sunday night and would now have to go Monday night!! All my best laid plans gone to waste!! 9W
did not operate on Tuesdays to JNB
and that meant I would have to look for other options. Turns out my only workable connection with EK
was not available and my agent offered my a routing on ET
But lady luck turned benefactor and my passport did not come out on Monday either!!
Which meant I had to postpone my travel by another day and yes.. 9W
did operate a flight on that day!! Now lady luck had yet another mood swing, and my agent tells me that the 9W
flight is sold out and he can book me on SA
which was wide open. The SA
flight from BOM
departed abt 40 mins after the 9W
flight. I asked him to try on 9W
and lady luck smiled on me and he was able to book one for me on 9W
So my itinerary was :-
442 01MAR 2 BLRBOM HK1 2030 2220
242 02MAR 3 BOMJNB HK1 0205 0735
241 06MAR 7 JNBBOM HK1 1100 2330
9W2705 07MAR 1 BOMBLR HK1 0315 0530
is on the return leg from JNB
on a 9W
The onward leg from BOM
was choc-a-bloc, with only 2 seats free in Y and abt 70-80% load in J. The pax profile was mixed - SA
nationals - including SA
Indians, Indian nationals and even a group of Nepalis. While at the baggage claim at JNB
noticed bags connecting from 9W
75, Jet's daily service from HKG
Had a hectic 3 days in Jo'burg, but managed to squeeze in a days outing to Pilanesberg Game Reserver and Sun City.
For out return flight, we left out hotel in Sandton City at abt 8:30 and reached OR
Tambo International Airport at just past 9. 9W
operates out of Terminal A.
was assigned 5 counters 93-97 at the far left end of the terminal. At that point of time, 9W
was the only airline with a huge throng of crowd checking in.
Queue leading upto the 9W
There were two counters dedicated for J and 3 for Y.
The Departure FIDS
welcome message at the entrance to the J line
I had already done a web-checkin and the agent at the gate issued me a boarding pass (on 9W
stock) with the same seat selection. I was flying onwards to DXB
(instead of BLR
as per the original itinerary) and had to request the agent to check my bags in till BOM
only. The baggage tags that were printed initially were tagged till BLR
's check in counters are designed like immigration counters. Once you check in, u walk past the agent to the security and immigration counters. There is no conveyor belt running parallel to the check in desk. The baggage is deposited into the belly of JNB
through a direct downward conveyor belt.
This gives a "behind the scene" view of a check in agent's job!!
There was no line for security and immigration and we managed to clear them in less than 5 mins.
Post immigration we entered the duty free zone of JNB
World Cup gear on sale!! Bought coupla vuvuzelas for my nephew!!
Liqour section dominated by the famed South African wine selection
Please do not touch me!!
After spending some time at the "Out of Africa" outlet - (bought a painted Ostrich Egg Shell and some knick-knacks) I headed for Gate A22 where our flight was boarding from. After a longish walk, realized that A22 was a bus gate!!
Headed down to the bus gate area
241 bound for BOM
boarding from A22
The bus was almost half full by the time I got in, but we waited another 20 mins before the bus got going
A strange thing that I have never noticed before - coupla familes just sat down and made themselves comfortable on the floor of the bus. one of them bang at the entrance and started eating snacks/bfast. The ground personnel did not mind this either and this continued till we reached our a/c which was parked at a remote stand.
The perfect picnic spot!!
The good thing abt a remote stand is the bus ride through the airport!! Came across coupla Com Air birds in BA
livery, but unfortunately they were on the wrong side of the bus!!
The rest of the action @ JNB
777 on one the 3 daily services to DXB
enjoying some *A bonding
The All white SA
Our bird to BOM
today - 9W
At the door we were greeting by IFS Heena, welcoming everybody by name!! Even us humble cattle class folks!! She was exceptional through out the flight and had the mark of a veteran pro!!
My row - I hoped for it to be empty, but had to share the 4 some with one more pax
FAs in their distinctive Canary Yellow over coats, helps pax as they trickle in
The mandatory leg shot
The very handy "hammock shaped" leg rest!!
Bottled water loaded from India
Welcome Aboard - on the main cabin screen
The Touch Screen PTV
The load factor on today's flight was around 75%. Boarding was completed at 11 and we pushed back 10 mins later. The safety video was presented through the PTVs and the cabin monitors.
The flying crew came online and informed us of our routing and were confident that due to favourable winds we would land into BOM
before time inspite of a late departure from JNB
Cold towels were distributed by the cabin crew.
Soon after take off, the seat belts signs were turned off and the crew sprung to action.
The drinks trolley
The options consisted of Indian Veg, Indian Non Veg - Chicken, Halal Lamb and a Continental Fish. A sizeable chunk of the pax were Muslims and hence the Muslim Meal was included in the main serving rather than as a special meal.
I opted for the Lamb
The tray consisted of a Salad, Dessert, Yoghurt, Water, Indian Bread, Pickles, Milk and Salad Dressing. I took a diet coke with the meal, which was served in the rather small wine glass!!
The crew came around with refills and tea/coffee. After the trays were cleared, the cabin lights were dimmed and the crew requested folks to close the window blinds.
Our routing today took us through Mozambique, Mayotte, SEZ, Skirted west of MLE
and then straight onwrd to BOM
over the Arabian Sea.
A shot of the cabin with mood lighting on
A trip to the restrooms. Some of the restrooms were filthy and had to call the cabin crew, who cleaned them promptly.
Moisturizer and Eau-de-toilette
The full length mirror on one side, gives the rest room an impression of added space
The cabin crew did just one water round, however a self service counter was set up at the rear galley. Spotted some crew members resting in last row that was reserved for them.
Bought a 1:200 scale model of a 9W
77W from the Duty Free sales. Got talking to the F/As handling the sales and they told me that of late this route has been doing pretty well for 9W
and they will soon be converting it back to daily.
The Cabin being woken up for the snacks/light dinner
Options included Chicken Pizza or Masala Pav (Indian bread with spicy curry). Opted for the latter.
The meal came with a Magnum Choco Bar.
I spent most of the flight clearing mails from work and thanks to the power adaptor available in Y, i was able to work close to 5 hours!!
The power adaptor however is placed rather incoveniently - beneath the seats!!
The IFE Jetscreen, reflecting the demands of their newly opened MXP
route - Italian movies on offer
The cabin crew came along securing the cabin for landing and soon we were doing the loop back over the hillocks outside BOM
. Landing into BOM
was rather smooth, and as predicted we landed 20 mins before time.
Heena came in on the PA and was on her best!! I love the 9W
sign off note - "To all guests - Welcome to India and to Fellow Indians - Welcome Home"!!
Another commendable FA
was Rizwan, who was went out of his way to help a family with an infant. Have seen smthing like that only on AI
One of the drawbacks of flying 9W
is that you invariably get a remote stand 9 out of 10 times!! Of course this saves you the long walk to immigration if you were to use the jet bridges.
Pax waiting to dis-embark
The line for immigration was long, but surprisinly moved rather fast, Baggage came in a lil delayed, owing to the remote stand. Headed through customs and straight out to a hotel arranged by my travel agent for a few hours sleep, before returning next morning to catch the DXB
Overall the 9W
experience was way more than satisfactory!! They have an excellent hardware and great cabin service. They seem to be able to make connections work on the JNB
route. If they add PVG
- that could really help this route out further!! Would have been great if SA
codeshared with 9W
, but with 9W
not becoming part of *A that doesnt seem feasible now.
A parting vid from my flight to DXB
- managed to capture a 380 take off roll as another whalejet taxis along
Flown IC , 9W , SQ , SV , GF , S2 , LX , IT , LH , OS , DN , AC , MH , 6E , MI , AA , TG , EK , QR , SG , TK , KW, UA ,