Planning and Booking
I briefly outlined booking this ticket in my last trip report but in a nutshell, I paid $735 for a DEL-HND-DFW-AUS ticket on JL/AA booked through JL. I then added a MAA-DEL segment on 6E for $101, quite expensive for the sector but it gave me a comfortable 4.5-hour connection at DEL.
A couple of weeks before my flights, with India experiencing the worst of the omicron wave, 6E took an axe to its schedule and reduced the number of flights on DEL-MAA from 12 to 7, canceling my flight in the process. When 6E cancels a flight, they give pax the option to get a full refund, get flight credits, or rebook onto any other routing between A and B at no additional cost. I rebooked onto a flight around 1.5 hours later, which would mean a risky connection as there would be a terminal change at DEL too.
The total trip time came out to ~33 hours, a far cry from the sub-24 trips I was able to make on the MAA-AUS sector before Covid.
Chennai [MAA/VOMM] - Delhi [DEL/VIDP]
January 14th, 2022
STD: 2:15 PM (IST)
ATD: 2:25 PM (IST)
STA: 5:00 PM (IST)
ATA: 4:53 PM (IST)
Actual flight time: 2 hours 29 minutes
VT-ITX, Airbus A320neo
Seat 7C, Economy Class
I arrived at the airport at 11 AM by Uber. Unfortunately omicron was sweeping across the country so there were very few passengers to be seen and my plan of being 3+ hours early already seemed unnecessary.
My ID and ticket were checked at the door. I hung around the check-in area as it was 15 minutes before it opened for my flight - unfortunately, I was not able to check in online by IndiGo's website. Soon enough I was issued my boarding pass.
After a couple of hours of waiting, boarding began from gate 14 on the ground level (bus gate). I had anticipated this since the aircraft had sat at a remote stand for most of the day, its other sectors being canceled. The aircraft for the day was VT-ITX, a 4.5-year-old A320 neo with PW engines, originally ntu by QR. IndiGo faced several issues with its PW engines and has since switched to CFM to power the rest of its massive A320/1neo fleet.
Airliners.net doesn't have any photos of VT-ITX, so here's one of another PW-engined A320neo:
We pushed off a few minutes late and took off shortly after from Runway 7. the flight was about 90% full. I've reviewed IndiGo before and there isn't much to add to that - slimline seats and OK legroom which are acceptable on an LCC for a sub-3 hr flight; no power or IFE; free water and a BOB snack service; and a reassuringly clean aircraft. IndiGo is tough to beat on consistency and as long as you set your expectations right, you won't be disappointed.
I did not get a window seat as I would have liked, so there are no photos to share. Here's a couple of pictures from my last IndiGo flight, albeit on an A321neo:
We landed a few minutes ahead of schedule on Runway 09/27, a 2813 m strip at the north of the airport complex, and closest to our destination T1. It was a 10-minute taxi to our stand. T1 in its current form has no jetbridges so it was bus + stairs. IndiGo to its credit uses ramps instead of stairs at all of its Indian stations, so wheelchair users can easily board the plane as well.
IndiGo has a split operation at DEL with domestic flights at T1D, T2 and T3, and international flights at T3. T1 is currently undergoing renovation/expansion, after which IndiGo will likely be able to consolidate its domestic ops there. Until then, it's a long, circuitous bus journey to arrivals through all the construction.
I saw N262PS, an ex-PSA CRJ-200 still in the American Eagle livery, stored on a taxiway. This aircraft was supposed to be taken up by Zoom Air, a regional Indian carrier which seems to have shut shop.
Eventually, we reached the arrivals area. It took about 30 min after landing to get the first bags on the belt, and by the time I got mine, 45 minutes had elapsed.
I walked to the departures level to catch the free shuttle to T3 for my next flight. DEL runs shuttles between the terminals as well as the two metro stations on the airport property, every 15 minutes. A bus pulled up just as I reached the stop but it was full so I waited for the next one.
20 minutes later, a rustbucket on wheels pulled up and we made the 15 minute drive to T3. The bus was in deplorable condition and frankly I'm surprised that it survived the trip, but it was free, and you get what you pay for. Nevertheless, an embarrasment for India's premier international gateway.
We reached the T3 arrivals level at 6:20 PM, a solid 90 minutes after I had landed. I quickly found the JAL check in area which was empty, and was given a boarding passes to HND, where I would have to collect the last two boarding passes. I was also given a Covid kit with a mask, face shield, and sanitizer. BTW, Celebi does ground handling for JL at DEL.
The immigration line was horrendous, and this almost led me to miss my flight. Late evening is the busiest time at DEL and I spent an hour in the immigration queue. Not all the counters were staffed, and the delay was exacerbated by a shift change at 7 PM. I finally was stamped out at 7:30 PM, and cleared security by 7:35 PM. My gate was number 15, about 10 minutes away, and I had exactly 10 minutes before the gate would close. I made it, only to discover that boarding was delayed and had not even started.
Immigration line (I had to be discreet as photos are not allowed here):
QF, UA, AI, SQ - peak time at DEL:
Crappy photo of an airline I had never heard of before: Pan Pacific Airlines of the Philippines. Alliance Air (Air India Regional) ATR72 in front of it:
Japan Airlines 30
Delhi [DEL/VIDP] - Tokyo Haneda [HND/RJTT]
January 14th, 2022
STD: 8:05 PM (IST)
ATD: 8:42 PM (IST)
STA: 6:55 AM +1 day (JST)
ATA: 6:29 AM +1 day (JST)
Actual flight time: 6 hours 17 minutes
JA834J, Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner
Seat 54A, Economy Class
With a synchronized bow by the gate agents, boarding began at 8 PM (5 minutes before the scheduled departure time). At least it was efficient, and the doors closed at 8:15 PM.
They left me with just the stub...
Today's aircraft was JA834J, a 8-year-old B788.
We quickly pushed back at 8:24 PM. The captain came on the PA system and apologized for the delay, blaming it on "late arrival of the inbound aircraft", which was hilarious given that the inbound flight had landed a whopping 9 minutes late. Nevertheless, we took off from Runway 24 at 8:42 PM.
I was in the second last row of coach. JL's 788 uses a 2-4-2 configuration in Y and thankfully, the seat beside me remained empty. The flight was ~90% full.
Legroom was pretty decent, IMO above average. SeatGuru says pitch is 33" - I'm 6' 1" and there was a good 4-5 inches between my knees and the seat in front. USB power was available.
This aircraft had the Magic 5 entertainment system which had a decent selection of content. IFE controls were in the armrest, though the screen was touch-enabled too.
Every seat came with a pillow and blanket, as well as "proper" headphones (not the cheap earbuds that most airlines have unfortunately adopted in Y).
All in all a pretty good economy seat, compared to others I have recently experienced.
One issue I had was that the service was slow. It was great, but slow. Hot towels were given out over an hour into the flight, and I only got my dinner 2 hours after takeoff, when we were flying over Bangladesh. One reason for this is that there were an enormous number of pre-ordered AVML (Asian veg meals), which the flight attendants individually brought out. I appreciated the hot towel, which was of proper cloth as well, not the tissue-type.
At 11 PM IST, I was offered a choice of "white fish with egg fried rice" or "chicken & tofu curry with rice", which was shown to me by the FA as pictures on a menu card. I opted for the former, which was served with Waldorf salad, soba noodles, fresh fruit, a piece of chocolate cake, and a bun with butter. Drinks were offered but I stuck to water.
I am usually pretty critical about economy meals, but this ticked all the boxes: quality, quantity and taste. I appreciate the numerous sides - something that other airlines have slowly been cutting down on.
Right after clearing the trays (halfway through the flight), the FAs handed out the second meal - a breakfast bag with yoghurt, fruit juice and a pastry for the AVML pax, and the below for everyone else:
The lights were then dimmed for the rest of the flight. I watched No Time to Die (pretty ironic that the last movie of Daniel Craig's Bond franchise was the also first Bond movie that I watched), and noted that Shang-Chi was also available.
5.5 hrs after takeoff, we began our initial descent, and 40 minutes later, began our final descent into HND.
Mt. Fuji and Tokyo city:
We landed on Runway 34L at 6:33 AM JST. 10 minutes later, we reached our arrival gate at the northern pier of T3.
Connecting passengers were interestingly told to wait for terminating pax to deboard first. It looked like 90%+ of passengers were connecting - understandable given Japan's strict entry restrictions at the time.
I made my way to transit security. With the recent expansion of HND slot offerings, the airport needs to expand its transit infrastructure - there were just 3 body scanners and x-ray machines, which would suffice for a single flight but not in peak times with multiple simultaneous arrivals. The queue spilled out of the transit area into the main arrivals corridor.
At 7:27 AM, I finished security, and went to the transit desk to get my onward boarding passes. Again, the number of transit desks was insufficient - there were 6 desks for ~200 pax to use. At 8 AM, boarding passes in hand, I went up an escalator to departures and was spat out at gate 113, where my DFW flight would coincidentally be leaving from.
The terminal was deserted with just half-a-dozen (international) departures that morning. Incidentally the domestic terminal across the way seemed to be bustling, but here at T3, most of the gates were cordoned off. I wanted to explore the terminal but realized quickly that the entire northern pier was closed - aircraft were arriving there, pax would disembark, and the aircraft would then be towed over to the southern gates for departures.
I found a deserted corner and took a nap.
Some mostly domestic traffic:
A B77W being towed to the departure gates from the arrival gates:
Japan Airlines 12
Tokyo Haneda [HND/RJTT] - Dallas-Fort Worth [DFW/KDFW]
January 14th, 2022
STD: 11:05 AM (JST)
ATD: 11:30 AM (JST)
STA: 7:25 AM (CST)
ATA: 7:33 AM (CST)
Actual flight time: 11 hours 3 minutes
JA882J, Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
Seat 57K, Economy Class
At 10:45 AM, right on time, boarding was called. Today's aircraft was JA882J, a new 6-month-old B789, also JL's last of the type.
This Y product was marketed as "Sky Wider"; I thought it was about the same as the B788 product. There were a couple of differences though: a neck pillow instead of the conventional pillow, and the Magic 6 IFE system. The legroom was about the same, as were the other amenities. This time, I had a seatmate.
We pushed at 11:14 AM. I missed the goodbye from the ramp agents as I was on the wrong side of the plane.
There were a lot of widebodies in long-term storage, including ANA's C-3PO B772.
We took off from Runway 34R at 11:30 AM.
Lunch was served an hour and a half after takeoff. The options, again displayed as pictures, were "grilled tofu & Umami chicken miso with Gomoku rice" and "Sichuan-style boiled beef". Each was served with a carrot noodle and sesame flavored spinach, apple potato salad, pumpkin mousse, a garden salad with dressing, and a cup of ice cream for dessert. A packet of rice crackers was also given. I selected the former option which was once again, pretty good.
Something to note: I saw online that this was the exact same menu as in Premium Economy.
The Magic 6 IFE did not seen to be light years ahead of the Magic 5, but had a few more options. I watched Spectre, which was quite weird to watch after No Time to Die.
The routing for today was much more southerly than usual, interestingly.
A couple of hours before landing, the second service was carried out, starting with a hot towel (proper cloth again). Half an hour later, everyone got a DIY "Teriyaki chicken hamburg bowl", a rice-veg-chicken bowl with assembly instructions. While I would have preferred a Western breakfast option as well, this hit the spot and was a perfect second meal.
The sun was rising as we descended into the DFW area. As we had crossed the Date Line, this was my second sunrise of Jan 14th.
We landed on Runway 36R at 7:33 AM CST and parked at gate D14 in the international terminal.
I had scheduled a 3 hr layover after having a terrible immigration experience at ORD in August, when I missed my onward flight and had to wait for 5 hrs for the next one. However, immigration took less than 5 minutes, so I went to the AA CS desk and asked to be put on standby for the previous AUS flight, which was 90 minutes later and operated by a OO CRJ-700, in place of my scheduled AA A320.
The immigration exit dropped me right outside Terminal D security which was empty, so I crossed over knowing that I could change terminals airside.
Since I was in the area, I went to have a look at my JL B789.
Bonus: KE B789 at D11 next door, looking great in the morning light.
Incidentally, D11 was the same gate I departed out of the last time I was at DFW, when I flew BA to LHR.
I got a breakfast sandwich and coffee from the 7-11 nearby, then took the Skylink to the E gates.
It was gate E35B for the flight to AUS, and I got my boarding pass shortly after reaching.
So many boarding passes for one piddly flight!
American Airlines dba American Eagle 3287 (operated by SkyWest Airlines)
Dallas-Fort Worth [DFW/KDFW] - Austin [AUS/KAUS]
January 14th, 2022
STD: 9:45 AM (CST)
ATD: 10:22 AM (CST)
STA: 10:56 AM (CST)
ATA: 11:15 AM (CST)
Actual flight time: 53 minutes
N613SK, Mitsubishi CRJ-700ER
Seat 57K, Economy Class
Boarding was delayed due to "aircraft searching". This probably meant they were searching the aircraft for something, though given that there was no aircraft at the gate, it is possible that they were searching for the aircraft (LOL). At 10 AM, N613SK was towed in.
I had to gate check my bag. There were just 20-25 pax onboard, and I was assigned 7D (Main Cabin Extra) probably for weight/balance.
MCE was nothing special; pitch was comparable to the JL B789. No IFE as expected; there was a power outlet but it didn't work.
To my knowledge, this flight is the only RJ service on DFW-AUS. It is also a Saturdays-only service, operating to rotate the aircraft into AUS to operate the weekly AUS-ASE service.
We pushed back at 10:15 AM. Performed a rolling takeoff from Runway 35R (I think) shortly after, where we lifted off like a rocket in less then 5 seconds. The captain announced 36 minutes of flying time and noted that one of our FAs was recently awarded by SkyWest.
Due to light turbulence, the seatbelt sign remained on for the entirity of the flight and there was no service.
On downwind to Runway 36R:
Circuit of the Americas:
I felt that we were coming in too high and too hot, and as if on cue, we went around. This was my first go around experience. No explanation was offered by the crew.
Second time was the charm, though, and we successfully landed a few minutes later on Runway 36L.
Between the delay and the go around, we landed just 30 minutes before my originally scheduled flight landed at AUS. I got my bag and went on my way.
This was a trip of firsts for me: first time on JL, first visit to Japan, first time on a CRJ and first go around. JL was excellent by economy standards, and given the opportunity, I will gladly fly with them again. Hope you enjoyed reading, and thanks for staying through!
Previous trip reports:
From the Rockies to the Himalayas: AUS-DEN-YVR-DEL-MAA on UA/OO/AC/UK, Dec 2021 [lots of pictures]
USA-India Repatriation during Covid-19: AUS-IAH-IAD-DEL-MAA on UA/AI/6E, June 2020 [lots of pictures]
Lufthansa's newest US route: FRA-AUS in Y, August 2019 [lots of pics]
American Airlines shorthaul + British Airways transatlantic in Y, AUS-DFW-LHR, December 2018 [lots of pictures]
To Cleveland and back: ExpressJet dba United Express ERJ-145, BOS-CLE-BOS, September 2018 [lots of pictures]
JetBlue's refurbished A320, AUS-BOS, August 2018
American Airlines longhaul Y, LHR-DFW on the B77W, August 2018 [lots of pictures]
Spotting at SFO + Virgin America (not yet Alaska!) A320 SFO-AUS, April 2018
MAA-DEL-MAA on Air India A20N and IndiGo A320, March 2018
Spotting at BLR + Jet Airways BLR-MAA, October 2017