So this is something new I am trying, let me know what you all feel!
In addition to adding my latest reports (which are already quite delayed. College. ) I will be adding some of my first few reports, before finally reaching last year's (2015) reports. Its a bridge to cover my absence for about 3 weeks.
Without further ado, here is my first ever report, featuring what would be my last flight on Kingfisher Airlines, and two more flights on Jet Airways back in summer 2011.
While I was in the subcontinent, every summer I would visit my uncle’s place in Kolkata, West Bengal. But this time, I wanted a bit of change. I decided to go to Bagdogra, to my Mum's uncle's place.
Ever since it opened for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, I knew I wanted to visit the magnificent Terminal 3 at New Delhi. Therefore, I requested my father to book full fare flights out of New Delhi, giving me a chance to see Delhi's new T3. Bookings were made on Kingfisher's earliest flight out of Mumbai and a mid-morning Air India flight to Bagdogra via Guwahati.
As it happened, this turned out to be my last flight on board Kingfisher Airlines before their dramatic end in October 2012. This was also meant to be my first post-merger Air India flight, having flown on Indian Airlines' many A320s, but never on the pre-merger Air India.
The route map of this interesting domestic trip, thanks to GCMap.
This was meant to be my last domestic trip in India, because Dad was being transferred to Colombo, Sri Lanka. Mum and Dad had just returned from Colombo, after looking at a few houses, schools, etc. VT-JGN (Jet Airways B737) operated the flights to and from CMB, the horror of a repeat registration!! The next morning, I web checked in for the flight, as Kingfisher Airlines allows web check in 48 hours before. Flight was being operated by an Airbus A320-200 (downgraded from the A321), so I selected seat 17A for the flight. After that, the evening was spent at Wankhede, just to see Mumbai Indians loose by 10 runs, versus the Deccan Chargers. Dang it
KINGIFHSER AIRLINES IT-331 MUMBAI-NEW DELHI 16TH MAY 2011.
I left home as early as 0430 hours in the morning for the flight. The roads were absolutely deserted, and no sign of sunlight. I reached a very crowded Terminal 1A half an hour later.
CHECK IN, SECURITY, PRE-BOARDING, ETC.
There was a long check in line for both Kingfisher Airlines and Air India. These two airlines operated out of Terminal 1A at Mumbai, a terminal that is deserted at the moment. There was an attendant calling out different flights for a fast check in, like flights to Kandla, Ahmadabad, and Kolkata etc. Finally he called Passengers for flight IT-331 to Delhi. My bags were checked in, in a breeze. I told the agent about my connection to IXB.
Agent: Sir, what time does flight leave from Delhi?
Me: At around 1015.
Agent: It is 2 hours, it should be enough. What is your age?
Me: I am fourteen.
She looked at me and then and walked away from the desk. She later came back and asked me if I needed assistance. I told I would have no problem as I should be able to find my way around the airport. She then asked her assistant to put a ‘MASS’ baggage tag in my bag. The boarding pass showed the aircraft would be leaving from Gate A11. This meant my first aero bridge boarding from Mumbai! The minor victories LOL.
I then proceeded to the security check, which surprisingly was a breeze, and slowly headed to gate A11, which was right at the end of Terminal 1A. Boarding had started about 35 minutes before departure time. I waited. I switched on my iPod. A few minutes later I joined the line.
As I walked down the aerobridge, I peeped out of an opening and saw the nose wheel, which said KFD. VT-KFD, Kingfisher's 4th A320-200. I boarded the aircraft, which had washed out ‘first’ de-cals on the fuselage. I was pretty disappointed on my first sight of the aircraft. There were 2 FA's, probably in their mid 20’s early 30’s welcoming the passengers onboard. There was a slight jam in the Kingfisher First Cabin, because a couple hadn't decided on who gets the First Class seat.
I went to my seat, and buckled up, hoping no one sits in that row. I should have known all the BOM-DEL-BOM sector flights are usually full! The arm rests were immovable and leg room felt a bit cramped. But just as the Captain made his announcement, a passenger with a big bag came and sat in 17B. The aircraft parked beside us was VT-KFP, an Airbus A321, in which I did my previous flight on IT, on the CCU-BOM sector.
As pushback began 8 minutes before departure, Dr. Mallya made his Welcome speech, followed by the safety announcement only in Hindi with English subtitles. The Hi! Blitz magazine in the seat pocket, had a feature about cricket star Virat Kohli, was sort torn and out of shape.
DATE: 16 May, 2011
Airline: Kingfisher Airlines (IT/KFR)
Registration/Aircraft type: VT-KFD, Airbus A320-232
Seat: 17A, Kingfisher Class.
Scheduled departure: 0605 hours, Actual Departure: 0557 hours.
Scheduled Arrival: 0810 hours, Actual Arrival: 0756 hours.
Loads (estimated) F=90%, Y=100%
While taxiing, the F/A’s distributed the Head phones, menus (in the form of a bookmark, guess who lost it ), and surprisingly a bottle of Colgate Plax mouth wash! This was my first Kingfisher flight in 3 years, and already I could see the difference. They used to give Welcome Kits with a Pen, Face wipes, menu cards, welcome cards and the head phones. I read the TV guide, which said there is a live camera. Unfortunately, the PTV screen said that the camera would be switched on only after takeoff. This was useless. I really wanted to see the take off sequence. As we taxied towards Runway 14 for departure, one of the F/A’s came and told me to switch of the camera. Nooooooooo!
Taxiing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUrmuUd6 ... ature=plcp
We held short of Runway 14, and waited for VT-INJ, Indigo A320 to take off. After a bumpy take off roll, we took off into many clouds, and there was heavy turbulence right after take off.
Take off: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1f1FHXFMm2o
After about 10 minutes, one of the F/A’s came, holding on to the seats because of the turbulence, confirming with all the passengers about the meals they had reserved. The people with meal requests got their breakfast, but the actual meal service took a lot of time to start. By now, the slow start to service got me real sleepy, as we were just about the crossing the borders of Gujarat (yes, that's a long wait!)
The Cabin (note the UB Group alcohol advertisements)
Its not a winglet, its not a sharklet...but its an Airbus trademark
Another wing view..
I switched on my PTV, only to see the camera channel still saying it will be switched on after take off! I switched channels with a few problems. The big bag made it impossible to control the TV from the arm-rest controller. I then stopped flipping, and decided to see (more like get stuck on) Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. (honestly, reading this report after years makes me question my movie choices. Please do not judge! ) which had a couple of useless advertisements frequently, was extremely irritating. Anyway by now, I was really hungry, and it was already 1 hour into the flight. The F/A’s finally rolled up the food cart, after the turbulence stopped.
It looked appetizing, as the croissant she gave was directly from a basket, which felt a bit like biz class! Yum! The tray contained a Taj ‘How to make tea’ guide. The croissant was really hard. I ate it because I was hungry! The F/A’s then served tea or coffee. I asked for a bottle of water. She said that she would get it. A call or two later, I was resigned to the fact that this was a forgotten request...
Cinnamon Grand Advertisement, Mum and Dad were there, not too long ago!
DESCENT AND ARRIVAL
After a few minutes, the captain announced approach into Delhi, with the food trays still on the tables!Once the F/A’s came to clear it up, I asked for a bottle of water, and I finally got it...PHEW! I saw, what looked like an Air India A320, climbing up. We then quickly approached and landed into Delhi, 14 minutes before departure time!
Docked at T3, with VT-JGB and a few other AI Airbus planes..
A part of the family!
We then taxied towards Terminal 3, something I waited for! It looked great! We then taxied into gate 33 or 34, which I don’t quite remember. Well, my Kingfisher flight was over. Thanks to Kingfisher, I had a 14 minute extension in my transit time. I was the last one to leave the aircraft, and the flight attendants had already disappeared. I guess that was that. It wasn't a particularly enjoyable flight with IT, little did I know this was my last flight on an airline that brought so much promise (and delivered), but eventually went down spectacularly....
JET AIRWAYS 9W601 NEW DELHI - BAGDOGRA 16TH MAY 2011.
AAAAAND ITS NO AIR INDIA...
A few days before my trip, mysteriously, Air India had changed the timing of the flight to GAU and IXB from 11:15 to 07:05 am. This gave me no option, but to book on an earlier Jet Airways Konnect flight 9W-2285. (DEL-GAU-IXB) I web checked in for the flight (24hr03min earlier I attempted, but it did not work, so I tried again), only to find out the flight number changed to 9W-601=MAINLINE! I selected seat 15A, to hear the sounds of the CFM-56!
(Sorry for the lack of pictures in this part )
I then started walking towards the arrival area, well aware that I had a chance of missing the flight. The airport reminded me about the Chek Lap Kok Airport in Hong Kong! I didn’t walk on the travelator, thinking I would be faster. But it is a fact: Science is always greater than man! At times. Well, I lost some time, but that was alright! Then there was an area, where if you go down, you reach the arrivals area, and on the same floor, there is a transit flights check-in area. I didn’t go to the check in area because I had a bag to take. The arrival area had shops all around and with many baggage belts around. All the passengers were waiting for waiting for their bags, while the bags with ‘Priority’ or ‘Mass’ tags came first. So, I was lucky to escape the ‘long’ wait.
I was a bit lost. I was thinking, maybe I should go back up to the transit floor, or maybe I should go to the departure area. I went to the Jet Airways baggage counter, where I asked the agent to help me out. She then told me to take a couple of turns to the transit check-in. I headed there, where all the counters were closed! I took an elevator and when I got out, I saw the international check in counters! I was now getting a bit freaked out but, luckily it was only about 0830 hours. I then found my way to the domestic check-in.
CHECK IN, SECURITY, PRE-BOARDING, ETC.
I waited at the long check-in line, which included the passengers of all Jetlite flights. After about 20 minutes in the line, my bag was checked in, which took about 3 or 4 minutes, and got my boarding pass. Gate 43 was the gate my aircraft would be leaving from. I then headed for security, which was another breeze. That reminded my about the movie Home Alone, in other words, Chicago O’Hare International Airport! There were many shops around. I reached the area where the International and domestic piers separated (not too sure, but that is what I remember ). I decided not to venture out into the international pier, as I thought I didn’t have much time.
It was a long walk to the gate, this time, going on the travelator . I reached Gate 43, and sat in one of the seats. The aircraft wasn't at the gate. I made it!! The Jet Airways website said the aircraft operated on this flight would be a 738, so I was at least hoping for a 737-800 with winglets. That wasn’t the case. The aircraft was VT-JNN, which still had those cockpit eye-brows, and with ‘Konnect’ de-cals and with slightly faded colours, as this was one of the first aircraft to change into the ‘new’ Jet Airways livery.
I saw a lot of domestic activity, and a couple of international flights arriving. This included a weird departure style. The aircraft are pushed back from the parking bay, and then they are pulled in front to save time and fuel! Not bad! I also saw a couple a wide bodies, which included an Air India Boeing 777-200LR, an Emirates Boeing 777, and a Jet Airways Airbus A330-200. I remembered that A330 was actually doing a domestic flight from Mumbai!
Boarding had started a whole 1 hour before departure time, which was strange. No one was in a rush to board, so I had no option but be the first to board the aircraft. I went through the twisty way down into the aerobridge. The old couple in front of me, had their cabin baggage tags, but without the stamp. They were told to go back to the security hold, and get the stamps on their tags. This was unprofessional & unfortunate! Not only did they have to walk back the long distance, the security personnel did not help one bit, despite the couple asking for help. Bad on you, Delhi. As I reached the aircraft, they held us up, as the aircraft was not prepared for boarding (with droplets from the aircon falling on my head, fun!). Anyways, a few minutes later, I boarded VT-JNN for my flight 9W-601 to Bagdogra via Guwahati.
DATE: 16 May, 2011.
Registration/Aircraft type: VT-JNN, Boeing 737-85R.
Seat: 15A, Economy
Scheduled departure: 1015 hours, Actual Departure: 1024 hours.
Scheduled Arrival: 1400 hours, Actual Arrival: 1357 hours.
Loads (Estimated): J=40%, Y=60%
Just like the Kingfisher flight, there were again 2 air hostesses welcoming us onboard. The cabin felt more open, as compared to the Kingfisher Airbus A320. I took my seat, and there was still 50 minutes before departure time. The F/A’s came about distributing news papers, water bottles, and gave swift responses to every F/A call any passenger makes.
Since the aircraft had no PTV’s, I was getting pretty bored, and I opened the thick, slightly worn out Jet Wings magazine. It contained an article of the world’s favourite international destinations. The seat pocket also contained a Jet Cafe menu card, (after all, this was a Konnect dedicated aircraft, confusion!). I looked out of the window, a 9W 73H came; it was VT-JGR in the old livery! I also had a nice view of the CFM56-7B24 engine, hoping for nice sounds produced by it. Just at departure time, the captain came over to P/A to announce that we would have a 20 minute delay for some reason, he didn’t mention. Well, 20 minutes doesn’t hurt, does it? Only 9 minutes after departure time, we pushed back, and then we were pulled in front to save time and fuel. We went by many aircraft, mainly of Jet Airways. We then taxied towards the Runway, and then, a swift departure and a couple of turns into a sunny day! The engine also produced superb sounds!
Start up: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ky8peRNVyoM
Epic Take off: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klr4oPDPv1A
CRUISE AND SERVICE
Once the seat belt sign was switched off, I went to the lavatory, which meant the 2 passengers sitting beside made a disgruntled face. They then moved aside. The toilet was pretty clean. As I came to back to my seat, the 2 people had disappeared. They sat 2 rows behind me, which was completely empty before they sat there. Well, not bad, 3 seats only for ME! This was turning out to be a superb flight! Oh yeah!
The F/As came with another round of water, and then they served lime or orange juice. I took the lime juice, which was a bit sour, but not too bad either. Perfectly refreshing for a hot day! The F/A then came back to collect the glasses, and asked if anyone wanted some more. Of course I took another glass! A couple of minutes later, the lunch service began. I took the Non-Vegetarian option. After that, they had a tea and coffee service.. Food service was quickly over, and then most of the passengers fell asleep for about an hour. I asked for another lime juice which the F/A gave in no time!
Lime juice (the second cup!)
Just before lunch..
I get to stretch my legs!
It tasted WAY better than it looks!
That awkward moment, when the sound of snoring is as loud as a CFM56
Another set of cloud formations.
I also fell asleep for about 10 minutes, when the Captain came over the very loud P/A system, announcing our descent into Guwahati.
I always underestimated the sound and power of these. Youtube videos didn't make me believe, until I experienced it!
We then made a smooth landing into Guwahati, and taxied out to park alongside 2 Jetlite Boeing 737s. The airport also had a Druk Air A319, a Go Air A320, which we followed into Guwahati from Delhi, and a SpiceJet Boeing 737-800. Most of the passengers disembarked at Guwahati.
TRANSIT AND THE SHORT FLIGHT TO BAGDOGRA
An agent came aboard giving transit stickers to all identified cabin luggage. Boarding started a few minutes later, where only about 50 passengers boarded, and once again, my row was completely untouched! We then made a quick taxi towards the runway and we had to back-tract right up to the end for departure. Another swift take off over the Brahmaputra River, and we were heading towards Bagdogra. As the seat belt signs were switched off, 7 or 8 people (including me) rushed towards the toilet, which was fun! After coming back to my seat after the long line, the crew gave a cheese sandwich and a LMN Juice.
Descent stated only 4 or 5 minutes after the crew cleared up the stuff. We landed in Bagdogra, where for the first time I saw a SpiceJet Boeing 737-900ER. The captain braked really hard, but it was a smooth landing. I also saw VT-JGN, which was heading to Kolkata, the aircraft which got Mum and Dad to and from Colombo a couple of days ago! I waited for everyone to get off, and then I saw the same Go Air A320 which we followed into Guwahati! We raced all the way from Delhi! WOW! I then got off the aircraft thanking the F/A’s for a fantastic flight! They gave a big smile and thanked me for the compliment. It was really sunny in Bagdogra, but I was surprised to see 3 new parking bays, and that the airport is now international!
Cabin of Jet Airways Konnect.
Light snack on a 40 minute (or less) flight.
Start up: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_FwRPNrF8o
Another epic Take off: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdBpN4AbMr4
9 Days in Bagdgora:
Well, I had aimed for a basic and peaceful couple of days, and I managed to do so. The horrific 2011 F1 Spanish GP took place a few days later. But anyway, here are a few pictures from Bagdogra and around
Fogged in during summer at Mirik..
From a slight hill top
A pretty famous bridge, used in at least one Bollywood film..
Pretty good place to wash ones truck!!
Bhutan...it's somewhere there, somewhere close!
Sunset on the way back...
I took a train, Padatik Express to Kolkata, where in the train I spent an uncomfortable night (ARRGHHHH). It was the day when Mumbai Indians took on the Kolkata Knight Riders for the crucial Eliminator, and I entered Kolkata wearing a Mumbai Indians t-shirt. That was easy to drag attention LOL , everyone was looking at me! Well, the evening, and late night, Mumbai took a hard fought victory, which was superb!
Traffic at Sealdah, GAAAAHH!!
I maybe from Kolkata, but trams are something I am never prepared for!
JET AIRWAYS 9W-202 KOLKATA-MUMBAI 27TH MAY 2011.
I decided to go on an afternoon flight to Mumbai. Sadly, prices were steep on most airlines (Air India, Kingfisher) so I had no option but to fly 9W once again. I selected 9W202, the earliest 9W flight on the CCU-BOM sector, which was being operated by a 73H (737-800W), which meant, In flight entertainment!
The next day, 24 hours before my flight I checked in for my flight. I was absolutely confident to see 33 rows in Economy on the seat map, as the aircraft operated was a 73H. However, that wasn't meant to be. The seat map showed 37 rows in Economy, which meant it was the Konnect configuration once again. I checked in, and I selected seat 27F. I then regretted not taking the evening flight 9W616, which was operated by the Internationally configured in-flight entertainment enabled B737-800s that would later fly to the Middle East.
My friend called me up a few hours later, who was web checking in for his flight (which was on 9W Konnect), and he told me the aircraft had 33 rows! This was bad! I had the worst luck with Jet Airways. That very evening, Jet Airways sent me a SMS Saying that the flight has been delayed by half an hour. Well, I still didn’t want to go to the airport half an hour late, because the NSCBI Airport is one crowded mess.
CHECK IN, SECURITY, PRE-BOARDING, ETC.
I left home at 0400 hours, and breezed through the city of joy. Once I reached the airport, I saw the new terminal under construction, and the traffic jam outside the terminal. Once I got dropped off, it took me about 15 minutes just to enter the terminal, another 20 minutes to get my bags screened. Kolkata still has those ancient checked-in baggages screening, be it the new terminal or the old one!
I went to the Jet Airways check-in counters. There was a very convenient check-in counter for Web Check-in, Kiosk check-in, Tele Check-in and SMS check-in counter. Mumbai and Delhi need these! I got my bags weighed, and the agent told me that the flight was delayed by half an hour. I told her I was aware of it, and just to push my luck, I asked her if there was any entertainment system on the flight. Negative.
Oh well, the boarding pass said that the aircraft would leave from Gate 4, which meant yet another aerobridge boarding. A clean sweep! I headed towards the security hold, which had a long line. I was seeing the new integrated terminal plans on one side, and the 2011 Formula One Spanish GP on the other. The people in front of me had Air India boarding passes, which said Row 54C, obviously a Boeing 747-400 flight out of BOM! After a good 30 minutes wait, I finally headed up the escalator to Gate 4, where the 737NG was parked, without the aerobridge attached. There was frantic repairs going on the port side CFM56, which explained the delay! I was shocked to see a cat just..cleaning it self in front of the passengers who were boarding this flight! This airport, seriously, reminded me of the main railway station in Kolkata, Howrah....
At around 0645 hours, 20 minutes before the rescheduled departure, boarding had started. I headed back towards my seat, where a couple of flight attendants were helping out people with their baggage. A glance at the wing, I was now onboard VT-JBP (the aircraft which went to Malta, to rescue Indians from Egypt).
Registration/Aircraft type: VT-JBP, Boeing 737-86N
Seat: 27F, Economy.
Scheduled departure: 0625 hours, Rescheduled departure: 0705 hours, Actual departure: 0726 hours.
Scheduled arrival: 0855 hours, Rescheduled Arrival: 0925 hours, Actual arrival: 0955 hours.
Loads (estimated): J=100% Y=80%
5 9W aircraft in CCU on a hazy day..
Some creatures want a free flight!!
AI A321 departing, probably for an International Flight..
There were a couple of late comers who boarded the aircraft, because of the security hold, which was the reason for our even more delayed departure. As usual, the F/As gave a bottle of water to everyone. There was only one person sitting on my row, in the aisle seat, and he apparently fell asleep. We then pushed back, made a quick taxi towards the runway, and departed over the Hooghly River and headed towards Mumbai.
Start up: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLKbPwdisp0
Take off (note the SpiceJet take off from the opposite runway, right in front of us, and the shadow of the aircraft, brilliant!! ) : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVtn9tuDtu8
Leveling off at cruising altitude..
No doubt about the registration of the aircraft!!
THE REST OF THE FLIGHT
The F/As served everyone with LMN juice packets. Breakfast service started. Superb food once again, and they were quick to wrap up the meal service. I then visited the loo, came back to my seat and started to click pictures of the wing as there was nothing to do. I asked for a bottle of water, and in less than 10 seconds the F/A got me the bottle! Efficiency?! That was really fast!
The business class cabin had the windows shut, the curtain drawn, and the entire cabin lights switched off, which meant the J class passengers had a good 45 minutes morning nap before their day starts! Not bad, I say !
We then circled over Mumbai for a long time, and we landed, surprisingly on Runway 32, but with a significant delay. This meant the trip had come to an end, and I had to focus on my studies for entrance into a school in Colombo. The flight then continued to Pune, about 1 and half hour late.
LMN Juice before breakfast..
Cabin (note the darkened J class)
Which airport is this?
The winglet....Oh, I miss the old 9W colours on this!
She's been working hard!
While taking this picture, captain announced that we were half way through Maharashtra..Home Sweet Home!
Unfamiliar approach pattern
Closer and closer, every minute!!
Here I am, home!!
VT-PPM AI A321 heading to Terminal 1A...
Followed by VT-KFM, IT A320...
Landing (worth seeing! ) : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqtL3pMYoLQ
Reflecting back on this report (my first ever one, on a different forum), it baffles me how times have changed. Of course, there was a lot of clenching involved as I was embarrassed by the language used my age minus 5 years old me
That said, its truly surprising how aviation in India has changed. Kingfisher Airlines is long gone, but Vistara seems to be getting in to their shoes. Jet had gone down significantly but are once again on the upward curve. New low cost entrants in AirAsia India, a revived SpiceJet have certainly made for some exciting times.
My other trip reports:
Air India's hybrid babybus from Kolkata to Mumbai (Jan '16, Y) (video report)
Delays and despair: stressed out in the middle seat! (Jet Airways B737 Mumbai - Bengaluru, Jan '16)
Air France's NEW Economy (B777-200ER, Bengaluru to Paris, Jan '16) (video report)
Delta's aged B767-300ER across the Atlantic! (CDG-ORD in Y, Jan '16) (video report)