BLR airport new extension
For one of the trips, I had to make a cross country trek from Bangalore to Delhi. Since Bangalore airport is far out from the city and I was packed with meetings, I wouldn't be able to take any flight which was earlier than 8pm. I could have flown the morning after but considering the distance to DEL
, I would have to miss my morning meetings.
As I said above, I frequently travelled with 9W
and I have had quite a large miles stashed up in their Programme and for my domestic travel, it is my preferred airline. But for some reason, the second last flight from BLR
is at 645pm which is way too early and the next flight is at 1045pm which is too late arriving into DEL
at 1am plus. 9W
is usually the business travelers' first choice. It's either them or AI
as all other airlines are single-class LCC. I can't make out why they are not pursuing this business market leaving the market wide open for AI
with it's better 845pm departure. Either that or there is really very little business traffic between north and south India. For info, 9W
pursues the BLR
market much more intensively with hourly departures between 5pm and 10pm. And these are always packed to the brim.
Anyway, left with no choice, and though with some concerns with AI
's less-than-stellar reputation recently such as pilot being locked out of the cockpit, pilot not turning up at aircraft, frequent delays, etc, I bit the bullet and just gave it a try. This was not my first time with AI
though. I had taken a domestic flight before in Y and it was a good experience with good food and good legroom. On another occasion, I took an international flight from BOM
in Y in their 77W and it was horribly worn out. But it was super empty with less than 100 pax in the 77W so plenty of room to stretch.
Now, on to the trip report proper.
I arrived at BLR
airport after a harrowing 1.5 hour drive. I was running late and I almost thought I wouldn't be able to make it here. But thanks to the new flyover from the city, I could just make it in time at 45 minutes before the flight.
Bangalore airport just had a new extension or two extensions rather on either side of the terminal. They were discreetly built over the last few years, so discreet that I didn't notice it. Only now that they were completed then I noticed them. The roofs over the extensions are higher and therefore the space feels a lot more spacious and pleasant inside.
Check-in hall view. 9W
occupies the premium corner next to the escalators leading to security. The yellow background wall is very prominent and matches 9W
's livery. But I believe the yellow is part of the design and has nothing to do with 9W
. Anyway, I like that colour. Really perk up the mood.
Check-in at AI
was rather slow and painful. There were not many passengers and I was late and it was just minutes before check-in closing time. It was frustrating to see the processing of the passenger in front of me took what seems like an eternity. And this was at the executive class counter.
Anyway, I was then checked in with no fuss at exactly T-45 minutes and quickly proceeded to security. Fortunately no line at security. I think there is a lot of increase in capacity after the extension and the experience is much more pleasant. I also like the timber accents of the architecture. It's very simple and elegant.
Post security, the F&B area has also been upgraded. The lounge is one-storey above, on top of the timber element.
Although I didn't have much time, I thought I should check the new lounge. For many years, 9W
didn't provide lounge at this airport for domestic departures. Now I think they share the same as AI
- Plaza Premium Lounge.
The lounge is very spacious and the mood lighting is good and comfortable. The food selection IMO was pretty bad and typical of India's domestic lounges so I decided not to take any bite.
Alcohol is usually served from the bar and is not self-service at Indian airports. And for today, no alcohol due to general election. What? Looks like the government thinks that when people drink, they can't vote rationally?
While the lounge is a pleasant place to wait for a flight, the area around the boarding gates is still the same old BLR
and was very crammed with passengers. They should have designed the terminal deeper!
Onto the flight report ...
also has 788s plying BLR
but the timing doesn't suit me so I have to be satisfied with an A320 with recliner seats rather than flat beds. Not a big deal for a 2.5 hour flight. The inbound flight came in slightly behind schedule but I thought they should be able to board us on time.
Boarding was then called but in no order of priority. It was first come first serve. There was no attention to a premium experience with AI
for this flight and I didn't expect it either. But since I had an executive BP
and true to indian style, I squeezed through the crowd and pushed myself to the front. Not bad for a foreigner who is rather used to the indian way. I just didn't want to be stuck at the aerobridge.
Entering the plane, I was greeted by a rather elderly FA
and her junior company. They are not the hottest FAs around especially after my many trips with 9W
whose boys and girls are hot hot hot
Settled down on my mustard-coloured seat.
First impression was good. There is IFE - 9W
has none on most of its planes on domestic routes.
But it is old style non-AVOD. Only two buttons for channels and volume each.
Legroom is good.
But then I started noticing the wear and tear. Am usually not bothered by wear and tear but the seat (though could recline properly) always turned back to upright position after awhile. Something was wrong with the mechanism..... But I was resigned to my fate. I wanted a window seat and that was the only one.
Boarding was slow and Y pax streamed through the cabin endlessly.
J cabin was almost full too, which is not surprising considering that this is the only businessman-friendly available timing between the two metros.
There was no inflight magazine in the seat pocket. Money saving exercise?
There was only a safety card and I thought I better read it considering AI
's reputation :5eek:
Boarding process seemed like an eternity because there were too many carry-ons onboard and many of them had to be brought down to the haul. We then began taxiing almost 30 minutes behind schedule.
Take off was smooth and a few minutes later, the junior FA
went around offering drinks - juices, or bottle of water. I took a bottle of water. She was quite friendly although a bit shy. AI
has a reputation for surly FAs but this team of crew was not bad at all. They were not superb but they were not bad either. I was ok with them.
Dinner was served an hour into the flight. It was served on tray and the apps and desserts were covered with plastic. The tray was just so not-elegant. I wonder what is so difficult to take the wrappers off in the galley for a better presentation.
As you can see, the meal doesn't look appetizing. But it tasted better than its appearance :hello2: I have no complaints other than the presentation.
To round up the meal, tea was served. Pretty basic, but I didnt expect much out of this sector.
The flight went smoothly until a small medical attention was required by one of the passengers behind. One of the J class passenger was a doctor and she went behind to check. A few minutes later, she came back (with the passenger) and since I had the only empty seat near her, the passenger was seated next to me. I would have no issue of having someone in Y who is ill sitting next to me. But this passenger shouldn't deserve any sympathy. As I figure out soon after, he reeked a little of alcohol. Apparently he had been drinking on the ground and he felt awful. He probably threw up behind. Lucky not with me around. Anyway, unhappy as I was, I decided not to bother anyone. It was not that bad actually, just a little convenience and soon after I delved into my book until landing.
Conclusion is that BLR
has improved after the opening of the extension and the check-in and security halls as well as the lounge are better. But the gate area is still very crammed and chaotic so I probably wouldn't be planning to get there early.
is no 5-star airline. And I have low expectation. It was not my best flight experience but I wouldn't complain too much either. It was just an average experience. Timing being equal, I would still pick 9W
but in this case, timing was the more important factor.