Being a die hard aviation enthusiast, it was indeed a shame that my first A380 flight was in 2011... a full 4 years after the first commercial whalejet flight!! First Time Ever On The Whale Jet - SQ LAX-NRT-SIN (by justbala Sep 25 2011 in Trip Reports)
But with the Dreamliner I got a chance to correct that
India's flag carrier Air India had just taken delivery of its first 787 Dreamliner, after months of haggling and negotiations with Boeing. AI
had a placed an order for 27 Dreamliners to replace its ageing fleet of A310s. The first 787 (VT-ANH) was based out of DEL
and was scheduled to do domestic runs to BLR
for crew familiarization.
This gave me the golden opportunity to sample the Dreamliner without the hassles of an international trip.
Booking was done via AI
's website - www.airindia.in.
While the welcome page had a promo ad for 787 flights, there was no mention of the 787 in the flight details. Of the 4 daily flights between BLR
the late afternoon one had no a/c details listed while the rest were on 320/319. I called up the AI
call center and the agent confirmed that the flight was on a 788.
Booking was done online and the fare came to roughly INR 8200 (USD 160 approx).
For my onward flight from BLR
, I used my KingClub miles to book a ticket on IT
's morning flight.
The second day of operations AI
had subbed the 787 for a 77L due to operational reasons. This got me jittery. The only reason I was flying was to experience the dreamliner. I called up the call center the night before and they confirmed that it was indeed still the 787 flying that sector.
I did a web check-in and the seatmap was that of the 787. I checked myself into 39A (the last row which is in a 2-3-2 config, while the rest are 3-3-3). This would help get a feel of the window seat as well make it easy to access the aisle for all the pic taking
Row 40 is the reserved crew rest area and is not shown on the seat map.
STD - 0955 STA
ATD- 0950 ATA-1225
I had set my alarm for 0645 in order to leave home by 0730, but as is fraught to happen, I went back to that precious "5 minutes extra sleep" and woke up only at 7:40!! I stay about an hour and half drive away from the airport and with check in closing 45 minutes before I was cutting it pretty tight.
Drove down to the airport like a crazy person, but coupla intersections with bad traffic meant that I pulled into the long term parking lot of the airport only by around 09:25. Not looking good. I was already contemplating buying a ticket for the next available flight on 6E
. But just then I got a call from the IT
check in counter enquiring if I would be taking the flight that day. As I ran I told the agent that I am at the parking lot and that I am flying without any baggage, She informed me that she would keep my boarding pass ready and if I rush i might still make it to the flight.
Luckily for me the morning rush hour at BLR
had subsided and I managed to reach the gate before 09:35!! Despite their financial troubles, IT
still managed to ace customer service. Good on their part.
I was amongst the last on board. The load was around 50% and the agent had allotted me an exit row seat. The flight was pretty uneventful on an ex-DN bird (no PTVs).
Breakfast served - Indian Veg - Fruit Plate with Idli/Vada Sambar.
Coffee/Tea on request only.
How the mighty have fallen. From being the airline with maximum domestic destinations, IT
today barely manage to cover north and west. Note that all International ops have been terminated.
After landing at DEL
, I went to the transfer counter at the arrival level in T3
, just to confirm that the BLR
flight is still being operated by the 787.
Agent - " No. Its 403".
A shocked me - "What?!!..oh wait.. no I didnt mean the flight number (phew!!), the aircraft type".
Agent - "Oh.. lemme check.... yes it is indeed 788 Dreamliner". She then proceeded to print a new BP
for me and asked if I wanted to change my seat since the last row was non-reclining (surprise surprise!!). I said i chose that because of the two seater, for which she again said it was a 3 seater all the way through. I asked her to check again and she apologized and said it was a 2 seater there.
After printing the BP
, she said I need to head to the international departure since this is a "Wide Body" aircraft. Once again I had to ask her to confirm and she called up someone and sheepishly told me , it would be the Domestic gates. Not someone's best day at work!!
Probably she was confused with all the AI
domestic legs of international flights (ORD
-ATQ) that are 777 operated and depart from the international side.
I took the lift from the transfer desk upto the departure level and headed straight for security
The now mandatory Elephant Sculpture at DEL
This was probably the first time that I was boarding a flight from T3
in broad daylight and it does seem a lot spacious in the day than at night!!
To Domestic Departure, with AI
Domestic Check In Counters in the foreground
Security was very fast and I headed to the food court on level 1 for lunch. As I took the escalator, I was greeted by a sight that made real happy AI
787 Dreamliner at Gate 32 having arrived from MAA
and being prepped for BLR
77W at the International Side
Views of DEL
The Food Court in the upper level
FIDS. DEL T3
Domestic only serves the Full Service Carriers. LCCs operate from Terminal 1D
Heading to the gate
Sculpture depicting the various poses of Surya Namaskar - A common sequence of Hatha yoga asanas literally translates to "Salutations to the Sun"
The Private Airlines half of T3
The elusive AI
CRJs.. glad to have caught two of them in the same frame
being prepped for her flight to LKO
Heading to Gate 32
Finally came across the "Mallu" Restroom @ DEL
All rest rooms in DEL
use the a man/woman dressed in the traditional attire of one of India;s 28 states. This one depicts the attire from my native state - Kerala.
Finally at Gate 32, I come face to face with the beauty!!
There have been a few changes to the AI
livery for the Dreamliner - one of them being the absence of a cheatline
Second - the wordings "Air India" are missing on the tail
Third - the engines are no longer red with yellow rays. On the 787 they are white with red rays
You can see (kinda) the difference between the livery on the 787 and the 777 behind
The new 787s are not named either. The earlier AI
birds were named after Indian states (777), Rivers (310), Emperors(747-200), Tourist Spots (747-400), Mountains ,Queens etc.
The distinctive 787 rear
The position of the gate and the fact that the floor did not extend all the way to the glass wall, made pic taking tricky. Dreamliner decal on the a/c
Since I still had to plenty of time for the gate to open, I decided to explore T3
Spacious gate areas, love the carpeting. reminds me of SIN
specific Pepsi vending machine. Nifty work!!
At the end of the pier, near gate 36 are probably the best seats in town!!
Overlooking the 3rd runway and taxi ways to T3
You could just spend an entire day here!! 9W
-JGC, taxiing pass the AI
Jet Konnect 738 taxiing as an AI
321 touches down on the runway
738 taxiing by
Boarding was announced for my flight and I soon headed to gate 32.
Cargo being loaded
Boarding through Gate 32A and 32B
787 Here I Come!!
STD - 1630 STA
ATD- 1635 ATA-1910
-ANH being filled for her journey downed the length of the country
The Jet Bridge
Up Close and Personal with the new GenX Engines
Welcomed onboard by a female FA
in the traditional AI
The hue and atmosphere of the aircraft was very welcoming with "new plane smell" (if there is something like that!! ) and once I got into the flight, tit was almost surreal!!
Thanks to the new windows of the 787 the interiors hid the fact that it was broad day light outside!! I think for most people flying the 787 for the first time, this will definitely be a wow moment!!
The forward Y cabin
Its 4 in the evening, Sunny and bright outside. Believe it or not!!
The aft Y cabin
39A my seat at the last row. With an AI
Better view of the seat
The new 787 windows. They are MASSSSSSSSSIVE!!
The window control at the bottom. Press up for lighter and down for darker shades
Difference between half shut and fully open
Full Shut and Full Open
Video of the window operations - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGD0mHGjP6k
Leg Space was more than decent
AVOD Touch Screen PTV with controls
USB Port and Coat Hook
Vent and Reading lights
Tray half open
Tray Fully Open with pre-takeoff Bottle of Water served
Dreamliner Safety Card
Note that the exit lettering has been replaced by the new green signage along with pointing arrows. This will specifically come up during safety demonstrations
The actual signage
Additional signage on the seatback
New spacious overhead bins
My seatpocket had a Duty Free catalogue meant for international flights but no inflight mag
Extraspace at Row 39
And oh btw, contrary to what Ms. Clueless at the transfer desk said, the last row on the 787 does recline
Row 40 Reserved as Crew Rest Area
Rear Galley - Spanking new equipment
Air India 787 Trolleys
Restrooms - Notice how the restroom door opens quite differently!!
The safety demo was done manually with the crew highlighting the new exit signage
Before the safety demo, all window shades were brought to fully open mode by the crew and post that you cannot change it until after the a/c has reached cruising altitude. This controlled by a button on the doors for each section. This way the crew doesnt have to go individually asking folks to open windows.
Although I wonder wht would happen during early morning flights. Typically crew come around asking you to pull down the shades. If the crew sets it to full shut mode, you would not have any control on the window
Birds lined up on the International Side
Pic being taken from the terminal. Through out our taxi, both ground staff and passengers in the terminal were seen taking pics and videos of the new Dreamliner
Regional ATR 42 in CD
Holding for incoming a/c on the 3rd Runway
The take off roll was smooth and a lot less silent than the 777 or 330!!
Video of the take off roll - http://youtu.be/FUfxLMpjaGw
During the climb, the crew came on the PA explaining the benefits and features of the new Dreamliner Aircraft, including the lighter material, fuel efficiency and the lower cabin pressure maintained. It ended with how you can experience all that only on Air India
The crew also explained the working of the new Windows and requested all to be gentle with the window control. This was done in Hindi followed by English.
As soon as we reached our cruising altitude the seat belt signs were off and the crew sprung to action.
I managed to grab this shot as one side of the a/c still had windows in full open mode, while the other side had returned to original position. Each side is separately controlled.
The Aisle with the new Boeing interiors
The curve of the overhead bins, make the cabin appear more spacious.
Also notice in the pic above that Row 37 is a windowless row.
The windows up in the air
The IFE on the 787 is different from the ones on other AI
a/c. The Hindi section is quite comprehensive, while English and Regional languages is quite minimal. One baffling omission was that of TV
series - the staple diet for most short-medium haul flights. The video features is primarily documentaries.
Good headsets..probably the best in Y class
The smell of food being being heated in the galley came wafting through the cabin. The cabin crew came around with trollies offering veg and non veg snacks. I opted for the non-veg
The meal consisted of a Quiche, Grilled Paneer (Cottage Cheese), Puffs, Bread Roll and Butter, Cut Fruits and a dessert which I could not identify.
I re-confirmed with the crew if this was indeed non-vegetarian and turns out the Quiche had some bits of chicken in it.. else it was as good as vegetarian!! The food was disappointing. Puff was soggy, Quiche was dry. The Grilled Paneer tasted OK
The Cabin Crew In Charge had some heated words with the crew in my section in Hindi. From what I could make out of it, he wanted the cabin to served beginning from the front, while crew started from rear. Initial teething trouble I guess.
After the trays were cleared I paid a visit to the loo
The flush mechanism on board the 787 is quite interesting. In addition to the push/press option, the 787 is also equipped with a sensor to give a touch free option. A lot more hygienic IMO.
But everytime I tried, it wud make some noise and nothing would happen. When I put the seatcover down though it automatically flushed. When I checked with the crew later, they said the sensor was malfunctioning as the wave motion will automatically bring the seatlid down and then flush.
Ashtray in the loo. Given that all flights now are non-smoking is this really necessary?!!
lighting in the loo
Passengers settling down
Pity the poor soul stuck in 37K
View Down the Aisle
Curtain for the crew rest area
Cabin lights dimmed
Before landing the CCIC settled down in Row 40 to rest. A female crew came to him saying that they should do the demo now. I was a lil surprised as to what this demo was to be!!
The crew took their demo positions and went over the new exit signage once again in both Hindi and English. I asked the crew serving our section why this was done. She told me that since the exit signage on the 787 is drastically different from other a/cs in the AI
fleet (and possibly India), it is mandatory to do this pre-landing briefing. Anyone know why the signage is different?! Is it only for AI
or for all 787 operators.
Crew at demo stations for "pre-landing" safety demo. A first for me.
The landing into Bangalore was from the eastern side and was pretty smooth and we soon docked at on of the jet bridges.
Seatbelt signs switched off
Given that I was in the last row, I got a good opportunity to talk to the crew. Today's flight was full in Y and had 2 empty seats up in J. The second in command today was Capt. Rohit Bhasin, husband of Capt. Nivedita Bhasin - India's first lady commander and as of now, the only lady to have piloted the Dreamliner.
The crew consisted of Senior members from BOM
and junior members from DEL
. They are scheduled to do the MAA
routes and then go on to DXB
's first Dreamliner International route. The CCIC commented that AI
would be using the 787 to do MEL
and possibly do a DEL
Cabin as pax deplane
The front Y cabin
Spacious Overhead Bins
Just cant get over those windows
I asked the crew if I could take pics of the J cabin and they graciously said yes and even offered to take pics of me in there.
The J seats - not very cutting edge, but for the medium haul routes this should just be fine
J class in 2-2-2 config
Reluctantly, I bid goodbye to the Dreamliner and stepped back into BLR
The distinctive nose and cock pit windows of the 787
Farewell until next time..
One of the perils of operating a widebody on a domestic route - limited baggage carousel space!!
All the double loop ones are on the international side
Overall the trip on the 787 was everything that I expected and then some more!! The Dreamliner provides AI
with an excellent ammunition to target hitherto untapped markets like Central Asia, Australia and Africa as well as provide the right sized aircrafts for certain long haul destinations like YVR
. Hopefully AI
will seize this opportunity and the Dreamliner becomes a turning point in Air India's history. Wishing all the best to Air India!!
[Edited 2012-09-24 15:08:43]
Flown IC , 9W , SQ , SV , GF , S2 , LX , IT , LH , OS , DN , AC , MH , 6E , MI , AA , TG , EK , QR , SG , TK , KW, UA ,