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To India's Orange City: Mumbai - Nagpur - Mumbai on Jetlite & Tadoba National Park (May 2011)

Sat Dec 10, 2016 6:04 am

Continuing on with sharing a recent TR from my backlog and an older one, I present my second 'old' report, this being a quick trip from Mumbai to Nagpur, and return during my summer break in 2011. Mumbai (on the western coast) to Nagpur (the very center of India, but still in the huge state of Maharashtra) is a pretty short flight at just over an hour.

A few days after I returned from my trip from Bagdogra and Kolkata, Dad had met a childhood friend, who was based in Nagpur. He invited us to visit Tadoba National Park, in a bid to see a few tigers! Well, so this is my last Domestic Trip in India before we moved to Colombo, Sri Lanka! (Or so I thought...)

There is another reason for me writing this TR: we didn't get tickets on any overnight train to Nagpur! So, we had just 10 days to book the tickets on any airline, which would suit our timings.

IndiGo and Go Air had the cheapest fares, but the first was too early, and the latter too late via Nanded.
Air India was a perfect option, but looking at their financial state, people advised us not to fly with them. Well, the second Air India opportunity lost for me.
So, it was down to Kingfisher Airlines and Jet Airways. Kingfisher didn't have flights from Mumbai to Nagpur, but Jetlite had 3. Jetlite it was! Outbound, we booked on the last flight, leaving at 1755 hours, while inbound, we selected the second flight, which left Nagpur at 1705 hours.

Back in the day, when the Jet confusion meant that there was a full service carrier Jet Airways, their low cost subsidiary Jet Airways Konnect, and the ex-Air Sahara Jetlite, there was a lot of logistical challenges as Jetlite flights would not show up on the Jet Airways website, and vice versa. In hindsight, booking the Jetlite flight on the Jet Airways website (as Jet Airways codeshares on Jetlite flights) was a bit of a mistake since it messed a few things up.

I tried to web check in for us on the Jetlite website, but because this was a codeshare with Jet Airways, I was being blocked. Instead, I tried tele check in. And it worked! The efficient agent gave me details of the flight, and I was surprised to hear it was being operated by a Boeing 737-700! Anyhow, 3 seats on the exit row and seat 5A were taken. I later packed my bag, (it was just as small as a video cam recorder bag :P ) and fell asleep, and unusually unexcited :? Not a good sign for any avgeek!

I woke up to a pilot’s biggest nightmare: THUNDERSTORMS! Well, I don’t think it’s a nightmare, but not ideal. As the day progressed, really slowly, nothing to do, no school, no homework, I went to the 9W website, only to see all flights are badly delayed! This got me a little scared. I knew that Jetlite, even when it was Air Sahara, got its flights cancelled very frequently.

As we drove down to the airport, racing with a black Aston Martin DB7 (we lost obviously), we received an SMS from Jet confirming our fears. The flight had been delayed until 1825 hours. Oh Great. We had to spend an extra one and a half hours in the airport. Not a problem for me and Dad though, because we were pretty big plane freaks! (And still are :bigthumbsup: )

As we reached Terminal 1B, the rain had subsided. While we were checking in (dropping in our bags) the agent told that senior citizens cannot be seated in the emergency row. So, my granny was assigned seat 5B. I now had cover for all my photography! (or the lack of?)
Check in was then done in minutes. Even the boarding passes had the revised departure time of 1825. Security was an unfortunate breeze. Now we had even more time to kill! So, we went to the Cafe Coffee Day. All the planes facing towards the Terminal were B737-700s and B737-800s of Jet Airways. Nothing else. On the other side were couple of IndiGo, Air India, GoAir and Air India A319s, one Jet Airways 739, another set of 9W 738’s, SpiceJet B737-800s, and one lonely B737-700 of Jetlite. It had nothing but one Sky Gourmet truck attached to Door 2R. That was most likely our aircraft.

After having a chocolate milkshake, and chocolate muffin, we went to our assigned gate 11. All the Gate Info screens showed Jet Airways and Jet Airways Konnect flights to Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmadabad, etc. Then finally an announcement came: “Jetlite...” many people stood up as if boarding had started, and the announcement continued “....regrets to announce the delay of its flight S2-115 to Nagpur.” And those people’s faces grew longer. Now our scheduled departure was around 1845. We saw many planes (mostly 9W 738’s) take off and land. And then, the highlight arrived. An Emirates Boeing 777-300ER just splashed all of the water off the runway when it arrived from Dubai!

Finally, at 1820, an announcement came: “Jetlite announces the departure of its flight S2-115 to Nagpur.” Big relief. We entered one of those super-chilled King Long buses that Jet Airways leases from Mumbai's public bus service (they still do!). There was a huge threat of cancelation. By then, another S2 73G, VT-JLD had arrived. I hoped that was our aircraft because it was a former Jet Airways VT-JNF. But no, the bus went towards the secondary runway, turned round a Jet Airways 738 VT-JGM another turn towards the international terminal, a final U-turn and stopped, right behind the other busses in front of us. I was right. The lonely B737-700 I saw from the terminal was our aircraft. It was VT-SIV. It still had those cockpit eye-brows. Well, 7 or 8 minutes, the bus just waited near the aircraft. No one was getting off. Couple of A320s landed, including Air India, Kingfisher Airlines and SriLankan Airlines. Finally at 1845, the NEW revised departure time, we boarded the aircraft.

AIRLINE/FLIGHT NUMBER: Jetlite (S2/RSH) S2-115 (9W-7043)
SEAT: 5A Economy (Single Class)

This was going to be my second JetLite flight, but the first time on a Jetlite Boeing 737. I have been on this airline’s Boeing 737 before, but that was when it was Air Sahara. I flew on the CCU-BLR sector (via HYD) on an old Boeing 737-300, and returned in a brand new 737-800! (I forgot all the details, and I was a small kid, and I had no camera back then!) When I boarded this B73G, it was like entering old days in a Jet Airways aircraft! Jetlite used the old 9W seats. I took my seat, my granny got seated and I clicked away!

Our lovely lady captain came over the PA, to apologize for all the delays. She said it was because of Operational Reasons due to single runway operations. She also said that by the time we departed, the weather would get slightly worse. ‘MORE DELAYS’ is what came to my mind. My father then came to check on us, and he told that the emergency exit on a 73G has no legroom. Only the passenger sitting behind in row 13 Window seat has a lot of legroom. This was confusing! Just then a van pulled over to the stairs, with an elderly couple boarding. The old guy said: “Don’t look at us like that; we are not the reason for your delay.” LOL!

At around 1917 hours, 2 minutes after scheduled arrival at Nagpur, the CFM56 engines of the 737 were fired up, and we started our long taxi towards runway 27.
Pushback and start: ... ature=plcp ... ature=plcp ... ature=plcp

It started raining heavily and sunlight had almost disappeared. As we slowly rolled down runway 14 (taxiing), I was assured that the flight would not be cancelled any more, but more delays were expected. I was right. As we exited runway 32, we made the first of many stops along the taxi way. 7 times we stopped, so we spent a good 30 minutes just to taxi towards the runway, when it usually takes 6 or 7 minutes (if it’s a fast taxi and there are no planes holding short of the runway). Finally, our turn arrived. We turned onto Runway 27 for departure.

Finally the CFM56 were applied full power. The engines made a splendid sound, better and louder than what I had on VT-JNN a few weeks ago! We turned east and headed for Nagpur, through the thick clouds. What looked great was the effect of the setting sun on the clouds. 2 different colours together was surely one the best of God’s creations!
Quite the take off: ... ature=plcp


Seat belt signs switched off, and there was no action in the aircraft. Everyone kept still. No one even got up to go to the wash room. The Buy-On-Board service ‘ByteLite’ had started. I asked for a Non-Veg meal, which they didn’t have. Instead, I asked for a Non-Veg combo meal, which had a Chicken and Raisin sandwich, a brownie and juice. I also asked for 2 cups of water. The F/A quite rudely took the money from me which was not very nice. The flight was largely uneventful. I went to the wash room, just before we started approach.
Cabin of the 73G.

Non-Veg Combo Meal

Door Assembly of the 73G.

Approach began about 25 minutes before we touched down into Nagpur. Nothing unusual in the descent, but the landing was terrible! Not only did we leave about half of the runway, we also had a hard touchdown. Heavy breaking followed causing my bag (with the DSLR in it) to fall off the seat! Dang! :shock:
HARD landing: ... ature=plcp

A long taxi followed, and we parked beside VT-SCF (whom we met in Mumbai!!!) and VT-KAD, a Kingfisher ATR 72-500, which was heading out of the parking bay as we arrived. Since Nagpur had only 2 or 3 busses, we had to walk down the tarmac, which was fun for me and Dad!
Walking to the terminal on the tarmac: ... ature=plcp

The airport had 2 (maybe 3) aerobridges, only for international flights. Nagpur Airport arrivals are the same for International and Domestic passengers. So, the immigration counters and Customs counters were closed and deserted, at that time of day at least. The airport has a modern way for baggage claim: the same way as in Dubai. We got our entire luggage, but only 1 thing was missing: our ‘Limited Release’ umbrellas. They were given to us by hand. I also took a final sight of VT-SIV: Doors were armed, all ready to go back to Mumbai. We came out of the neat-looking terminal: small, but modern.

The next day, we headed for the Tadoba National Park, in southern Maharashtra. After a 4 hours drive, we reached the hotel. On the evening safari, our first sighting was a sloth bear. Then a few deer, wild dogs followed. As we were about to finish our safari, the driver got a call. A tiger was sighted near a water body! The driver rushed the car towards the lake. We were one of the last jeeps to reach the water body. The tiger was sitting there, until he got up and walked into the lake. Prey was walking by. We were hoping for a fight. But the big cat just rested in the cool water on a hot sunny day. One of the deer did make an alarm call, but the guides told us it was just a mating call. We waited for about half an hour, but nothing happened. So we went back to the hotel.

Sloth bear (FOCUS :evil: )

Langur (FOCUSSS!!!!! :evil: :evil: )

Bee eater..

That's our cat!! :D


The morning slumber..

The next morning, we went for another safari. There were many birds and the usual animals. But on the way back, in an artificial pond, we met the big cat once again! This time he was half asleep. But, he showed no signs of movement, so we went back. In the forests, you are supposed to especially careful with where and how you store your shoes. That’s something I forgot these past few days. We went for our final safari. This time, we saw the usual things, and a sloth bear taking a bath deep inside the forest. This was a great sight!

As we came back, I headed for my room. I felt some tingling thing in front of my right leg toes. I thought it was a beetle. When I removed my shoes, I saw it was a big creature. On first sight, I saw felt it was a lizard. ‘Houston, we have a problem’, I told my mum. My mum looked in my shoe and said: ‘was this inside your shoe??!!’ Mum then put the shoe upside down, and jumped out: A SCORPION! It had its sting, all ready to attack! But, with no other option, we killed it. ( :tombstone: ). A scary incident! First, in India (and in the rest of the world also), smaller scorpions have far more toxic venoms than in the larger scorpions. The big ones only have a big structure to scare us, but in reality, the smaller ones are more dangerous. Second, the nearest hospital was at least 50 kms away. A scorpion’s bite can kill a person in just a few hours. And for me, going to a hospital would’ve taken a few hours. The scorpion must’ve been stuck in between my toes, or under my feet, which may have prevented it from stinging me. 4 hours with a creepy crawly in my leg, and I didn’t feel anything was there for those 4 hours. I promised myself; I am never going to another jungle trip ever again! (Even if it’s Kruger :P ) Overall, this trip was a great experience, and more importantly a great lesson.

R.I.P my friend, or is it, my enemy?

We headed back for Nagpur and on the way back, I tele-checked in for the flight. This time it was a 186 seater Boeing 737-800. I took seats 18A and 18B for mum and Dad, while I took seats 22F and 22E for me and my grand mom. I saw the schedule of Nagpur airport. Around the departure time of my flight, the airport was supposed to be busy. 2 IndiGo flights (one to CCU and uhm, I cannot remember.) a Jet airways Konnect flight to Delhi, and my Jetlite flight to Mumbai. As we entered Nagpur, I saw an old Boeing 707 half scraped and just left behind. I thought it was just my imagination. Clouds were starting to build up. There were also some thunder and lighting. We arrived at the modern looking airport.

Everything looked modern at the airport, except, the baggage screening. Nope, it wasn't inline :( We quickly checked in, but we were also told that the flight would depart at 1730 hours, a delay of 25 minutes. It begins, again!

Near the security hold area, I saw a deserted part of the terminal, almost like it was haunted. This was the international departures area. After a slightly slow security, we went to the departure lounge. I expected to see atleast 2 aircraft. But none of them were there, except for the Boeing 707 which I confirmed my ‘imagination’. VT-INB had arrived after about 10 minutes. Sometime later, its sibling VT-INF came from BOM, heading for CCU. The Jet Airways aircraft was nowhere to be seen, while we got a message saying our flight would depart at 1745 hours. A delay of 40 minutes! Here we go...

About 20 minutes later, at 1720 hours, a Jet Airways liveried aircraft came. I thought it was the Jet Airways flight from Delhi, but it turned out to be our aircraft! The aircraft was in full Jet Airways colours, but with ‘Jetlite’ decals on it. Aircraft was VT-JLE, earlier with Ryanair.

At 1745 our flight along with the IndiGo flight had started boarding. Flight 6E-324 to CCU had its doors closed, ready to depart. IndiGo had separate security checks for their passengers. They were boarding from Gate 2, while we were boarding from Gate 3.

Hybrid for me!! :D

AIRLINE/FLIGHT NUMBER: Jetlite (S2/RSH) S2-115 (9W-7043)
SEAT: 22F Economy (Single Class)

As we reached near the aircraft, VT-INF had its engines started. We were the one of the last ones to board. There were 2 F/A’s welcoming us onboard, from Door 2L. The seats were the same as Jet Airways Konnect’s Boeing 737-800s. Granny and I took our seats, while VT-INF was at Runway 14, all ready to take off. A Religare Beech Craft VT-RSN was parked beside us.

VT-INF preparing for take off...

Tarmac view..

The private aircraft..

November Foxtrot is on its way to CCU!

After a quick boarding process, doors were armed, and at 1805 hours, the CFM56 engines were fired up.
The start up:

There was yet another child sitting behind me. As we taxied down towards Runway 14, the kid behind said this, looking at the winglet: “Mummy, Daddy, look the wing is going up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down.......” He kept on telling this until we turned at the end of the runway. Lovely....

The CFM56 engines were applied full power, and after using most of the Runway, we took off, heading west for Mumbai. There were luckily only a few clouds as we headed out of Nagpur.

Take off:

It suddenly started to get dark outside. Before the ‘ByteLite’ food service started, all the passengers were given a Jet Shoppe scratch card and a Booklet. I didn’t take one. As the food service started, I took a Raisin Chicken Sandwich, Butter Cookies and a glass of water. Not many takers for the food service, so the service was concluded pretty fast. The sun suddenly came out, giving out a lot of rays inside the 737. As Dad went by, going to the wash room, he asked us if we got the Jet Shoppe booklet. He told me to take two of them, because there were interesting things in it. I called the F/A for a booklet, who came pretty quickly. Thinking that I would ask for a glass of water, he had a glass in his hand. I told him: ‘Can I have 2 Jet Shoppe booklets please?’ He said: ‘Sure sir, here’s a glass of water for you’. Okay then :P
I scratched the card, in which I got a Dining Table set. Not what I wanted hehe.

Climbing out..


DARKNESS!! :shock:

B.O.B food...

Wasn't useful for me :P

Approach started a few minutes later, in which we encountered heavy turbulence. The kid behind me treated it as a roller coaster ride. It was raining heavily as we approached. As we landed smoothly, the rain disappeared. We made a slow and steady taxi towards a parking near runway 14-32. Again, I was the last one to get off. We arrived at the arrivals area in Terminal 1B. The bags took a lot of time to arrive. In the meantime, Mum went and claimed a Sandwich Grill, pretty neat. We came out, where it was getting extremely dark.
Sandwich maker..




Bus ride :P :

This was an unscheduled trip, so I had to get back to studies for my entrance exams in different schools in Colombo, but only after seeing Jenson Button’s brilliant win the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix that night :P .

Jetlite was just like any other low fare airline. Nothing too special, not so bad either. While Jetlite (the airline) still exists as JetKonnect, there is no longer an LCC product. It is all a full-service offering.
Once again, reading this included a lot of cringing, seeing how I disliked the 2011 me :P How times have changed...Jetlite is gone, and so have most of the B737-700s in Indian skies!

CollegeAviator :santahat:

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)
De-iced & Delayed, cold onboard a CRJ! (ORD-MSP-GFK on Delta, Jan '16) (ORD-MSP video report)

My last flight on Kingfisher Airlines (and 2 other Jet flights, May '11)

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