Note: apologies for the awful photography - using a broken mobile phone's camera...
I promised to post an Air India trip report on another forum, and I figured I'd post it here as well so that those of you who have sworn off AI
can see what you're missing:
Cut and Paste:
Since I was flying Air India from Hyderabad to Kolkata yesterday, I figured it would be as good of a time as ever to write up a report. And since I couldn't get to sleep last night, I found the time to write the report without sacrificing valuable vacation time as well.
The greatness of Hyderabad's airport is all taken for granted now that I'm living here. I barely notice the great access roads, the little conveniences which make such a big difference, or the beauty of the terminal anymore.
I arrive at the airport at approximately 9:30, for a 10:35 flight. Having forgotten my printout on the kitchen table, I go over to the AI
airport office, where there is no line. I am quickly handed a printout of my itinerary with a smile. And for free. Jet Airways, please take note.
At 9:30, there is very little line for anything. No line for CISF officers checking printouts. No line for check-in desks. No line for security check. I love the airport when it's empty.
Check-in is a quick and painless affair. I hand over my printout. The check-in agent hands over a boarding pass. The best part was when he said, “Welcome to Air India, your palace in the sky.” Not “have a good flight,” the usual Air India line, or the grunt I usually get from SpiceJet agents. This little phrase shows clearly that even with all the tough times AI
is going through, he still takes pride in his company. Normally, ground services are my least favorite part of AI
. That doesn't apply today it seems.
I wander over to the gate, a bit early. I ask a gate agent standing at the desk what the loads are like.
“Executive Class is completely full, sir.”
“So many non-revs?” I ask in surprise.
“No sir, all 8 tickets are revenue tickets,.”
He gestures at the manifest sitting on the desk. I'm impressed – loads look to be good this flight.
“And what about economy?”
“There are 30 passengers, sir.”
Ouch. The aircraft is an A319 – which seats 108 passengers in Y. 30 passengers in economy is a 28% load factor. Not pretty. Even when you add in the J passengers, the load factor is 32%.
I look forward to getting a row to myself.
“Is it always like this?”
“No sir, usually on Monday and Friday this flight is full. Even for mid-week flight, this is very less passengers – usually there is at least 60 or 70.”
I sure hope he's right. This flight is surely losing lots of money today – if it happens every day, this flight definitely won't last.
It's a fairly routine day at HYD
– apart from a lone SpiceJet cancellation, everything is running on time.
At 10:05 sharp, boarding begins. By 10:15, everybody has boarded. On my way down the jetbridge, I catch a picture of the aircraft, VT
. She's a newer A319 in Air India's fleet.
The purser is standing at the entrance of the aircraft greeting passengers with a Namaste. The first thing I notice as I enter the economy cabin is the PTVs at every seat – I'm excited to check out AI
's Thales i3000 system.
The cabin is looking nice and clean, but sadly empty.
For some reason, every seat is in a fully reclined position – FAs go through the cabin putting the seats to upright position.
Pushback happens at 10:20, 15 minutes before scheduled departure. Everybody is on board – there is no point in waiting.
The PTVs show a safety video I've never seen before.
I took a video of it as well – if you'd like, I can upload... You can probably find it somewhere on the web...
I look over the Safety card:
The in-flight magazine for this month's cover is Ladakh, an area which is supposed to be very beautiful. I'd love to visit:
Complimentary headphones are provided:
The IFE is incredibly impressive for a 2 hour flight.
There is a moving map:
Recent Hindi movie Jannat 2 (with English Subtitles):
Older Hindi movie, Adalat, also with English subs:
Hollywood picture Independence Day:
Lapataganj – Hai Khabar Garam Unke:
And a channel of Bollywood Music Videos (Mujhko Teri Zaroorat Hai – Jodi Breakers in this picture):
In addition, there are 12 audio channels available with various different programming.
The controls for the IFE is very convenient and intuitive:
After takeoff, the meal is served:
I'm going to miss this like crazy when I go back to the USA in August.
Samosa, Chole, Sandwich, Water, and Jalebi for dessert. Yum.
I polish it all off:
The meal also comes with a coupon booklet:
A nice way to try to go after sales in the air.
Midflight, I notice to my amusement that the seats have inbuilt coat hangers:
They really have thought of everything
Flight attendants come through the cabin every 20 minutes offering water bottles to passengers.
As we departed early, we also arrive early. It is almost disappointing to have reached my destination – for the 2 hours that I was in the air, AI
was truly my palace in the sky.
Airports 2012: IXE HYD DEL BLR BOM CCU KNU KTM BKK SIN ICN LAX BUR SFO PHX IAH ORD EWR PHL PVD BOS FRA MUC IST