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Scintillating Summer 2018 (11): The $27 FSC - Bassaka Air's A320 Siem Reap - Phnom Penh (SEVERAL pics + videos, Aug 18)

Thu Nov 07, 2019 5:13 am

PSA: THERE'S SEVERAL PICTURES IN THIS ONE!

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Bassaka Air flight 5B902
Siem Reap Intl Airport (REP/VDSR) to Phnom Penh Intl Airport (PNH/VDPP)
August 9th 2018
Departure: 1055 hours, arrival 1135 hours
Seat 6B changed to 18A - Economy Class
XU-113, 20.7 years old Airbus A320-216
1st flight on Bassaka Air
26th flight on an A320
31st flight on Airbus A320 family of aircraft
Filed altitude: 17000 feet
Shortest flight for me!
The 98th video trip report


INTRODUCTION - THE $27 FLIGHT BACK:
For the flight back, we needed a mid-morning morning departure, however since I had logged the turbo-prop with the Xian MA60 adventure, all options were open. Barring Cambodia Angkor of course, they were 3 times (or more) the price. The options were down to Basska, JC Intl & Lanmei. Unfortunately none of them had A321s :( Oh well. Bassaka Air it was, with their $27 per person ticket, and the timings worked well. Rotation of the airplane was simple:
5B901 0945 1025 A320
5B902 1055 1135 A320

I certainly had more confidence in Bassaka’s operations, seeing as they flew internationally on a more consistent basis, and had 2 dailies between PNH & REP. This was indirectly reflected in the booking process as well - a ticket was sent without much ado, and no need to confirm it with the airliner anything. No seat selection in the manage my booking, neither was there online check in. That's okay, I was fairly confident of a window seat anyway.

SIEM REAP - ANGKOR WAT!
Before it all, the main reason we were over at Siem Reap: Angkor Wat! We only had about half a day to get through most of it, but rain tried to throw a wrench in our plans - if anything it helped cool things down. I tried to be a little artistic, so here goes...
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Bayon Temple: this is what I usually pictured when some one told me Angkor Wat:
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Elephant rides
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Ta Phrom: The TombRaider movie was filmed here:
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A delicious Pork + vegetable soup!
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We went to the military museum afterwards, seeing as not a whole lot of people were there. If anything, it isn't the most well known compared to the other attractions in Siem Reap. A contrast to the magnificent Siem Reap, this reminded us of a cruel world filled with war today. There were 2 aircraft there: a MiG 19 and Mil-Mi-8 Helicopter.
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That night we hit up pub street for a meat sample barbecue - kangaroo and crocodile were new meats that I tried! As always, Angkor Beer to go along with it :)
Moving Up and Down, side to side like a roller coaster :)
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Fish massage - not sure if I'd ever be able to sit through one..
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Pub Street wasn't overly busy, and we were well sheltered from the rain. Loved it!
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The BBQ:
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Interior of the hotel:
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JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS TOO SOON?!
Before getting up from bed I decided to check the flight status on the Phnom Penh airport website: a 3hr delay. Oh for God’s sake no! Just to be sure & to seal our fate - I checked the Siem Reap airport’s website to see how delayed we’d be. On time. On time for sure, and check in to open soon. Wait - what was going on?! Turns out - the plane came in at 12am in the morning from Hangzhou (China) - a charter. This plane would head back to Phnom Penh and fly back to Siem Reap, before flying another charter to Hangzhou overnight. Brilliant, another non-delay…or so I thought.

We checked out of the hotel at 0900 hours, 1hr55min before the departure time of 1055 hours. We hailed our trustee Tuk Tuk driver as we gave us a ride to the airport - a quick 15 minutes.

Flight info at the hotel itself: convenient!
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Officially marking the return trip back from Siem Reap to Fargo via PNH BKK CCU BOM IST ATL MIA ORD, here we go!
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Entering the airport area
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Domestic terminal - quaint!
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CHECK IN, SECURITY
We were dropped off at the domestic terminal for 0925 hours, 1hr30min before departure. This one is significantly smaller than the one for international operations. Check in lines were practically empty for all airlines operating - not only did I get a window seat BUT they checked in our tiny baggage anyway, for free! Nice nice. Turns out, the $25 ticket came with a 20kg baggage allowance too, how about that.
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In addition, Basska did have their own stock boarding pass & a frequent flyer program. We were assigned seats 18A & 18B.
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Security was pretty quick - but we had to drink a massive bottle of water so as to it did not get wasted. This meant several visits to the restroom, but that’s alright.

Siem Reap domestic has just the two boarding gates - no jet bridges. It was pretty full though - with 2 flights departing. A fully loaded ATR 72 to Sihanoukville was before us. There was a small cafe and 2 gift shops, but that was about it. It was a bit tricky to find some seats. Had to kill about 20 minutes before boarding started. I was much confident about this flight, so less anxiety, I guess :)
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The crew came in - 2 pilots and 4 cabin crew. I guess they overnighted after another Hangzhou charter! Unfortunate that these charters meant 5B901 PNH-REP would get significantly delayed, oh well. Also weird because Bassaka did have 2 planes in their fleet…

As passengers to Sihanoukville on Angkor Air boarded - I caught a glimpse of the A320 taking us to Phnom Penh. It was XU-113, a 21.7 years old A320, that earlier operated across the border with Vietnam Airlines.

Some spotting:
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BOARDING
Some pre-boarding announcements were made 35 minutes to departure, with on time boarding 4 minutes later. A quick walk over to the airplane, a Cambodia Angkor A320 was parked on the ramp as well.
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On the ramp: 3 Airbus operators of Cambodia -
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Almost there - I LOVE boarding from the ramp itself
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ONBOARD
I was onboard at 1028 hours to a largely welcoming crew, but I was taken aback by the seats - not your usual slimline seats as you’d find on most carriers, rather plush & cushioned seats in Business & Economy: 12 in the former, 138 in the latter totaling 150 seats.
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Plenty of legroom back in economy too - I felt the difference right away! Pity this flight would barely last half an hour. Took our seats 18A & 18B - while the front half of the plane was full, the same couldn’t be said about the rear. Just admiring the seats (and their apparent age) I was reminded of the Indian Airlines A320 seats.
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The usual announcements happened, securing cabin, welcoming us onboard, etc. In addition to the two flight attendants doing the announcements, there was also a quick note from the Captain that I appreciated. All very well put together, I felt. I was very surprised to hear the announcement regarding the exploding Samsungs still made an appearance. Interesting. I did however, towards the end of the short flight, find that there were WAY too many announcements.

Window view
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DEPARTURE
Cones were removed 16 minutes before departure, doors closed, and we were away at 1043 hours, 12 minutes before departure time A manual safety demonstration was done. The 2 CFM56-5B4 engines were fired up without an issue, however we did take up a taxiway (Taxiway Alpha) for an ATR72 to taxi out - one prop’s feathered the other isn’t: This was K6 105 from Phnom Penh.
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Start Up video

What worried me a little bit was the length of time between starting up the #1 and #2: maybe an issue popped up or maybe just SOPs at Bassaka? Either way, we started taxiing at 1048 hours, 7 minutes before time.

INFLIGHT
Lined up & departed for Phnom Penh at 1053 hours off of Runway 23, still 2 minutes ahead of time.

Take off roll:
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Take off video

Made a pretty steep bank south bound as course was set for Phnom Penh. It was a bit bumpy up to our low cruise altitude of 17000 feet - we remained here for not more than 8 minutes!
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Barely 5 minutes in to the flight the cabin crew rolled up with a cart: there was water and several types of juices on offer! I went for an apple juice.
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Cruise - LOL!
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I spent the rest of the time going through the seat back pocket contents - once again there was a lot of information in Traditional Chinese pertaining to rules & regulations, immigration & customs, etc. Cute dog!
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Passenger Service Unit - this vs A350....
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DESCENT & ARRIVAL
The captain came over the PA system for an arrival brief: we would be there shortly before 1130 hours, to a warm Phnom Penh at 29 degrees celsius. Cabin crew did a round to collect trash & prepared the cabin for arrival, barely 15 minutes in to the flight. Crazy to think that most of this flight was spent either climbing or descending!

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We were put in to a bit of a holding pattern but nothing too hair-raising, slowly but surely came down on towards Runway 23 for a fairly firm landing and almost minimal flaring at 1128 hours, 34 minutes in flight.

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[b][i]Landing video[/i][/b]

Taxied out where I saw the other Bassaka plane laying around, but to my surprise we were assigned a jet bridge gate in the domestic terminal! Gate 3 it would be. Did have to wait for other traffic to get started up and depart, so we were delayed a bit.

The 737 at the very right is the ONLY 737 that I saw of Cambodia...
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Internationals
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The other Bassaka Air plane :)
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Docked at the gate for 1136 hours, just 1 minute late. Back in Phnom Penh! Disembarked & got our checked luggage which was brought out fairly efficiently.
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Disembarking: pity the flight did not last long, these were great seats!
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Thank you XU-113! She'll head back to REP as 5B 901, 3 2.5 hours late.
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Corporate jets, and XU-001, the other Xian MA60 of Bayon Airlines
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Terminal:
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Baggage claim:
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My favorite fruit, so I guess my favorite parking lot, too!
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CONCLUSION - ANOTHER DEFUNT AIRLINE!
All in all, Bassaka proved to be a much smoother ride than the Bayon Airlines Xian MA60. Given that it was a $26 ticket I was skeptical at first: starting off with the delay initially at PNH - but the plane was already there at REP. There were also way too many announcements for the same things. However, the flight was on time, the seats were unbelievably comfortable, and they managed to do a full beverage service in between - nice! Add to that, free baggage allowance. Good stuff indeed.

Unfortunately however, looks like the cheap fares did have a toll on the airline, as they have also suspended operations as of October 2018 which is heartbreaking - seeing as they had a fairly decent product onboard. With the myriad of airlines in Cambodia in addition to such cut throat fairs, sustainability is brought in to question here.

My trip reports:
2018
Scintillating Summer 2018 (10): Adventures of the Xian MA60! (many pics, PNH-KOS-REP Y, Aug 18) (video trip report)
Scintillating Summer 2018 (9): Fly Smart, Fly Sabai, Fly Thai Smile! (BKK-PNH Y A320 Aug '18, pics + video) (video trip report)
Scintillating Summer 2018 (8): Purple plane, purple plane! Cambodia bound on Thai's A330 (CCU-BKK Aug '18, pics + video) (video trip report)
Scintillating Summer 2018 (7): The Final Leg Home - jetlag jetlag jetlag! (Vistara A320 DEL-CCU Jul '18, pics + video) (video trip report)
Scintillating Summer 2018 (6): #NotJustAnotherNEO - Vistara's Premium Economy! (BOM - DEL Jul '18, pics + videos) (video trip report)
Scintillating Summer 2018 (5): Was That My Last Flight on Jet Airways?! (A330-200 DEL-BOM Y Jul '18, pics + videos) (video trip report)
Scintillating Summer 2018 (4): Tantalizing Turkish - a missed connection? (777-300ER IST-DEL Y, Jul '18, pics + videos) (video trip report)
Scintillating Summer 2018 (3): Turkish Delight! (777-300ER MIA-IST Y, Jul '18, pics + videos) (video trip report)
Scintillating Summer 2018 (2): American Airlines' Refurbished 777 (DFW-MIA Y, Jul '18, pics + videos) (video trip report)
Scintillating Summer 2018: Envoy Air ERJ-175 FAR-DFW (Y, Jul '18) + BONUS Air Force One & Thunderbirds (pics + videos)
(video trip report)
A, B, C & E of airplanes: A Spring Break in NYC (4): The Comfortable CRJ?! (UA4851 ORD-FAR Mar '18 Y)(video trip report)
A, B, C & E of airplanes: A Spring Break in NYC (3): Red Eye hub-to-hub on the A320 (UA2139 EWR-ORD Mar '18 Y)(video trip report)
A, B, C & E of airplanes: A Spring Break in NYC (2) - DeIcing Delays; The Big Boeing 777! (UA1995 Y ORD-FAR Mar' 18)(video trip report)
A, B, C & E of airplanes: A Spring Break in NYC (1) - United Express/ExpressJet ERJ-145LR (UA4082 Y FAR-ORD Mar' 18)(video trip report)
Wobbly Winter '17/18 (11): The cramped CRJ conundrum (DL3896 MSP-GFK, CRJ-200LR Jan '18)(video trip report)
Wobbly Winter '17/18 (10): Frozen Fuel Truck - uncertainty ensues! (DL461 JFK-MSP, B717-200 Jan '18)(video trip report)
Wobbly Winter '17/18 (9): BA's logo jet, the uncertainty of NYC's winter storm! (BA173 LHR-JFK, B747-400 Jan '18)(video trip report)
Wobbly Winter '17/18 (8): The Red Eye 747! (BA142, DEL-LHR, B747-400 Jan '18, pics)(video trip report)
Wobbly Winter '17/18 (7): Vistara's amazing Business Class! (UK778 CCU-DEL A320 Jan '18, pics & video TR)(video trip report)

2017
*NO FLIGHTS* Wobbly Winter '17/18 (6): Himalayas, Palam Air Force Museum, Heavily Delayed Rajdhani Express
Wobbly Winter '17/18 (5): Fly Smart? Not quite: The GoAir Debut! (G8128 CCU-DEL A320 Dec'17, pics & video TR)(video trip report)
Wobbly Winter '17/18 (4): Efficient Air India! (AI401 DEL - CCU B787 Dec'17, pics & video TR)(video trip report)
Wobbly Winter '17/18 (3): Elegantly British? (BA143 LHR-DEL B747-400 WT Dec'17, pics & video TR)(video trip report)
Wobbly Winter '17/18 (2): A British Concorde, A British Queen! (BA116 B747-400 World Traveller Dec'17, pics & video TR)(video trip report)
Wobbly Winter '17/'18 (1): Insane tailwinds to the Big Apple! (DL A319 MSP-JFK Dec '17 Y, pics & video TR)(video trip report)
A (slightly) unlucky summer '17 (10): Software glitch'd? (SkyWest Delta CRJ-200ER, MSP-GFK, Jun '17, w/pics & video TR)(video trip report)
A (slightly) unlucky summer '17 (9): Yet no CRJ-700 for you! (IAD-MSP UA E175, Y, Jun '17)(video trip report)
A (slightly) unlucky summer '17 (8): A tale of 2 Etihads - electronics BANNED! (B77L/B789, BOM-AUH-IAD, Y, Jun '17)(video trip report)
A (slightly) unlucky summer '17 (7): Jet's extended range B737 (9W472 CCU-BOM, Y, pics & vids)(video trip report)
A (slightly) unlucky summer '17 (6): Delays galore, inefficiency ensues! (SpiceJet, B737-900ER, SG517 BLR-CCU, Y)(video trip report)
A (slightly) unlucky summer '17 (5): Missed opportunity with Jet's A330 (BOM-BLR, Y, B73H, May '17) [pics & video TR](video trip report)
A (slightly) unlucky summer '17 (4): Short flight on the Etihad A380! (AUH-BOM, Y, May '17) [pics & video TR] (video trip report)
A (slightly) unlucky summer '17 (3): Elegant Etihad? (JFK-AUH, A380 Y, May '17) [many pics & video TR] (video trip report)
A (slightly) unlucky summer '17 (2): No MD-88 for you! (MSP-LGA, DL Y, May '17) [pics & video TR]] (video trip report)
A (slightly) unlucky summer '17 (1): No CRJ-700 for you! (GFK-MSP, SkyWest Delta) [pics & video TR] (video trip report)
Spring Break 2017 - To the Pacific Northwest! (AMTRAK, BC, Idaho, NO flights!)
Winter Break 2016/17 (9): The Final Hop Home (AA Eagle ERJ-145, ORD-FAR, Jan '17, Y) (video trip report)
Winter Break 2016/17 (8): Ultra long haul with Etihad (AUH-ORD, Y, Jan '17) (video trip report)
Winter Break 2016/17 (7): Enticing Etihad to Abu Dhabi! (CCU-AUH, Jan '17, Y) (video trip report)

2016
Winter Break 2016 (6): My last flight on Jet Airways' ATR (GAU-CCU, Y, Dec '16) + Scintillating Sunderbans (video trip report)
Winter Break 2016 (6): My last flight on Jet Airways' ATR (GAU-CCU, Y, Dec '16) + Scintillating Sunderbans (video trip report)
Winter Break 2016 (5): Konnecting to Kaziranga (S24363 B73H CCU-GAU Y, Dec '16) (video trip report)
Winter Break 2016 (4): Take us home, Qatar Airways! (QR540, DOH-CCU, Y, Dec'16) (video trip report)
Winter Break 2016 (3): Long haul middle seat - our first flight on Qatar Airways! (QR28 MAN-DOH, Y, Dec'16) (video trip report)
Winter Break 2016 (2): Pencil Jet across the Atlantic (AA54 MAN-ORD, Y+, Dec'16) (video trip report)
Winter Break 2016 (1): The Frozen Embraer Delay - missed connection! (FAR-ORD, Dec '16) (video trip report)
Thanksgiving '16 in the Sin City - My Allegiance with N891GA, to divert or not to divert (LAS-GFK Nov '16) (video trip report)
Thanksgiving '16 in the Sin City - My Allegiance with Allegiant! (Part 1, many pictures) (video trip report)
The day I flew the world's most popular plane (GFK-FAR-CKN-GFK, C172)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 14: Delta Connection, a quick hop in the Midwest! (MSP - GFK, Aug '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 13: Super old, Super 80, Mad Dog Across the Midwest! (AA ORD-MSP, Aug'16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 12: Flying the Friendly Skies... (United Munich to Chicago, Aug '16)) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 11: Epic Lufthansa, Epic A340! (Delhi to Munich, Aug '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 10: Konnect, Lite, Delight...(S2 B73H CCU-DEL, Aug '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 9: Take me home, Vistara! (DEL-CCU, Jul '16) (video trip report)[/color]
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 8: Vistara's INAUGURAL flight out of Kolkata! (CCU-DEL, Jun '16)) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 7: Efficient IndiGo! (Mumbai to Kolkata, A320, May '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 6: Big delays, cracked windshield, angry passengers (SG CCU-BOM B73J) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 5: Air India's domestic Dream)liner (DEL-CCU May '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 4: Nearly First Class - stories of the empty A380! (LH FRA-DEL May '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 3: World's longest jet, Lufthansa's B748i! (ORD-FRA May '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 2: ChicaGO on United's A319! (MSP-ORD, May '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 1: Sun rise onboard the long range CRJ (DL GFK-MSP CRJ-900, May '16) (video trip report)
The pencil jet(s) for spring break! (+ Iron Maiden bonus): Delta MSP-FLL-MSP, March '16 (DL1608 video trip report, DL2027 video trip report)
De-iced & Delayed, cold onboard a CRJ! (ORD-MSP-GFK on Delta, Jan '16) (ORD-MSP video report) (MSP-GFK video report)
Delta's aged B767-300ER across the Atlantic! (CDG-ORD in Y, Jan '16) (video report)
Air France's NEW Economy (B777-200ER, Bengaluru to Paris, Jan '16) (video report)
Delays and despair: stressed out in the middle seat! (Jet Airways B737 Mumbai - Bengaluru, Jan '16)
Air India's hybrid babybus from Kolkata to Mumbai (Jan '16, Y) (video report)

2012
South Africa 3: 12 days in Scintillating South Africa (Kruger, Kulula and Rand Airport, Apr' 12, LONG!)
South Africa 2: Elegant Emirates Economy! (DXB-CPT, B77W, Apr '12)
South Africa 1: My first flight on Emirates, my first flight on the 777 (CMB-DXB, Apr '12)

2011
International transit with Jet Airways (BOM-MAA-CMB, Oct. '11)
Konnecting to Bhubaneswar (9W BOM-BBI-BOM, Jul '11)
Three trips between India and Sri Lanka (9W BOM-CMB-BOM: Jun '11, Jul '11, Oct. 11)
To India's Orange City: Mumbai - Nagpur - Mumbai on Jetlite & Tadoba National Park (May 2011)
My last flight on Kingfisher Airlines (and 2 other Jet flights, May '11)

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