bharathkv
Topic Author
Posts: 69
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2007 12:58 pm

Air India ORD-DEL-MAA

Mon Jul 07, 2014 12:26 am

Hi,
For sometime now I wanted to write my own trip report. My recent trip in Air India during June is a great way not only to write my first trip report but also to answer lots of questions and concerns my fellow travelers will have on Air India flying this route.

Trip details
Economy class
AI 126 ORD-DEL (dep: 13:30 hrs arr: 14:25 hrs) (VT-ALS)
AI 42 DEL-MAA (dep: 17:15 hrs arr: 20:00 hrs) (VT-PPF)
Flights were more or less on-time and the timings reflect local time.


I left for the airport early to avoid the check-in crowd and since it was a Sunday I thought it would be a great idea to check-in early and wait at the Priority Pass lounge in Chicago ORD. Check-in was a breeze and the Air India personnel was very helpful. Once I got my boarding pass I cleared security and went to the priority pass lounge.

AI 126 was served by VT-ALS, which was delivered in 2010. Here are a few images of the beast:




Also one thing to remember for future passengers by Air India is that near the boarding gate you need to give your details to an Air India personnel taking down your information. I think it was for security purpose. It was a quick procedure. One more great thing about Air India is that passengers flying beyond DEL need not clear immigration and customs at DEL. They can do that at their final destination. This was something that was awesome to hear. One of my co-passenger to BLR said that she was told to clear immigration and customs at DEL. I am not sure why, but it could be because she might have had the DEL-BLR sector on a different airline or ticket. Just make sure you have the complete journey on Air India itself to ensure seamless travel and transit experience.

Around an hour before the flight boarding announcement was made. Boarding was a bit chaotic in the beginning, but the staff made an awesome job making passengers form a line according to their seating arrangement. In some airlines boarding is not according to the passengers seat numbers and could lead to a big line forming outside the aircraft. Most of my co-passengers were of Indian origin. It was great to see many flying by Air India even though Air India is not among the cheapest on the route.

After a 15 minutes boarding process I finally got to my seat. The seat was good, but I found the plastics are a bit cheap. The plastic on the seat in front of me had some stains. Air India should make the ground staff clean these spots especially since the aircraft is there in ORD for almost 7 hours.

About the seat:
1. Great seat pitch. One of the best in the international sector I have experienced.
2. Water bottles at every seat. This is a great gesture by Air India. I think Air India is the only airline that gives a full water bottle for use to its passengers.
3. Cheap plastics. This could definitely be improved.
4. Good AVOD screen size. Good selection of movies, but had some flaws. For example, the air map in my seat did not work, whereas for others it was working. I was a bit annoyed by it because I usually follow the air map diligently through the journey.
5. Overhead lights for passengers next to me did not work. Air India must make its maintenance crew be more sincere about fixing these kinds of issues. Passengers definitely get annoyed if some basic things do not work.

Some internal aircraft & seats pics:





The aircraft left the gate on time. There are many passengers worried about delays in Air India flying this sector. I do not think you must worry a lot about it. If you are going to travel internally within India after DEL, Air India has some very good backup connections. If your flight is delayed they will accommodate you in the next domestic flight. Either ways rarely delay in this ORD-DEL flight has been around 5 hours, which is bearable. Rarely it went to 20 hours or so and I was really surprised by that. Anyway that is something that Air India must definitely address. From my personal experience timing was spot on and nothing to worry about.

Once the aircraft got on its way to DEL, food was served around 3:30PM - 4PM ORD time. All airlines do the same so I already had a good lunch before getting on to the flight and was not very hungry. Food was really good, but quantity was a bit less. I have flown in CX before and food especially from USA is really bad. Even on SQ the food when taking off from USA was bad. In other sectors CX and SQ had good food. AI had great food in all sectors.

Pic of the vegetarian meal:


After the meal I started watching some movies and reading my book. I had a good sleep while crossing Artic and Europe. In the middle I got up to go to the galley to get some water and sandwich. I did not find any air hostess or steward there. This is something that was not acceptable. The airline must always have someone at the galley. Also when I used the restroom I found that hand soap and hand napkins were missing. This really makes passengers frown a lot. Air India must address this issue also. The restroom was very clean.

When we were 3 - 4 hours from Delhi meal was served again. It was very tasty, but quantity was again less. Air India has one of the best airline meals I have had till now.

Picture of the air map:


Landing at DEL was on time and transit was seamless. Just walk into the terminal and clear security to walk to the gates for the next flight. Also the airline had many staffs waiting to guide the passengers. Delhi airport looked awesome. I was reminded of Singapore when I saw it. There was Starbucks, Coffee Day and other restaurants in the airport. I had a quick Starbucks coffee and went to my gate for the DEL-MAA flight. The wifi in the airport is slow. One thing that could be improved for sure.

DEL-MAA
AI 42 (dep 17:15 hrs - arr 20:00 hrs)


This flight was really good, but did not have very good inflight entertainment like the ORD-DEL flight. Seat was good and the seat pitch was also fairly good. The flight duration was only 2:30 hours and I was not very worried about the inflight entertainment. There was no AVOD, just a basic inflight entertainment.

We were again served full meal. The food was really good.

Pictures of DEL airport:



DEL-MAA pictures:


The DEL-MAA flight arrived on time. Also one good thing about arriving at 20:00 hrs is that the immigration was very quick and customs and baggage was also very quick. The return flight MAA-DEL of Air India goes back around 9:30 PM I think and it is a great time for people traveling to USA. Most of the flights out of India that connect to the USA bound flights leave at very untimely hours and Air India is a fresh breeze in terms of timing and duration.

I arrived at MAA in 20 hours. This is great and the shortest way to reach MAA from ORD. All other flight options take almost 22 to 26 hours at the least.

Overall impression:
1. Great experience. Inflight experience was also very good.
2. Seats are really good and inflight entertainment in ORD-DEL sector is really good.
3. Some issues such as cheap plastics, overhead lights not functional and no flight attendants at the galley need to be addressed.
4. Air India's timing was spot on and the flights were on time. The timing out of ORD and arrival time at MAA is very convenient. For passengers with children it will be great.
5. The flight also takes an exotic route over Artic, Europe and west Asia. It is really a treat for air fans such as me. The route over Pacific in my previous flights is mostly just water. This was a fresh experience for me.
6. I have done lots of international travel in the past few years and Air India had the best tasting food. I loved the food and professionalism by the flight attendants. The galley experience was a little let-down though.

Ultimately I would like to say that the experience was really good and I would definitely chose Air India again anytime.
 
spr773
Posts: 28
Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2008 5:23 am

RE: Air India ORD-DEL-MAA

Mon Jul 07, 2014 4:20 am

Nice report. All the things you have said are true. AI birds start looking worn and old pretty soon and the maintainence folk do a shoddy job many times. However I think now that they are in Star Alliance , they must get their act together. If they are in the league of SQ and TG and LH who have set a benchmark of sorts , AI must have a very competitive cabin product.
 
harim
Posts: 152
Joined: Tue May 20, 2008 1:57 am

RE: Air India ORD-DEL-MAA

Mon Jul 07, 2014 7:08 am

Thank you for your great report!

Quoting bharathkv (Thread starter):
. I have flown in CX before and food especially from USA is really bad. Even on SQ the food when taking off from USA was bad. In other sectors CX and SQ had good food.

Unfortunately the case - especially if departing from ATL, ORD, EWR.

LAX and SFO departing asian carrier flights seem to have better food (J).

I look forward to trying AI soon....now that it is on star alliance.
 
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hirofumi
Posts: 287
Joined: Tue May 03, 2011 4:21 am

RE: Air India ORD-DEL-MAA

Mon Jul 07, 2014 10:12 am

Hi bharathkv, thanks for sharing your experience. I flew AI's B777 few years back and I agree with you that seat-pitch is very generous. Also good they keep 3-3-3 arrangement when many 3-4-3 configuration is becoming popular these days. If there is one complain about the seat then it's the angle of recline - even with great seat-pitch, the recline is almost none.

I also agree with food quality - their hot Indian meal is usually a hit, even on domestic flights like DEL-BOM.

How was cabin crew? I tend to usually encounter many aged-chubby ladies who can yell at passengers if they don't stop switching off mobile phones, and could be a bit scary but once you talk to them they are polite. They act more like a "mother" than being CA!
 
karan69
Posts: 2728
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2004 7:57 pm

RE: Air India ORD-DEL-MAA

Mon Jul 07, 2014 11:42 am

Hi

A nice report , good to see a positive review about AI once in a while,

Was always curious about the transit experience and your report clears my doubts regarding it

Barring the expected dirty planes and lack of attention by the crew, seems to be a hassle free experience

If i might ask how was the price of the ticket in compared to your usua options of BA SQ CX LH and EY

Karan
 
bharathkv
Topic Author
Posts: 69
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2007 12:58 pm

RE: Air India ORD-DEL-MAA

Mon Jul 07, 2014 2:04 pm

Quoting spr773 (Reply 1):

Nice report. All the things you have said are true. AI birds start looking worn and old pretty soon and the maintainence folk do a shoddy job many times. However I think now that they are in Star Alliance , they must get their act together. If they are in the league of SQ and TG and LH who have set a benchmark of sorts , AI must have a very competitive cabin product.

Thanks a lot. Yes. If AI wants to provide a good cabin ambience on par with Star Alliance members it must definitely improve in those areas. Also I have been an Oneworld member for a long time now. So I have to try to get rid of my points asap.  
Quoting harim (Reply 2):
Unfortunately the case - especially if departing from ATL, ORD, EWR.

LAX and SFO departing asian carrier flights seem to have better food (J).

I look forward to trying AI soon....now that it is on star alliance.

Thanks. In fact I have flown CX in SFO-HKG-MAA and SQ in SFO-HKG-SIN-MAA sectors. I have found the meals in SFO-HKG sector in both airlines to be bad in Y class. Probably J class provides better food. Not sure though. But then I always order asian vegetarian and I do not think people in Business or First class requesting asian vegetarian might get any different food. I am yet to try out other airlines from the east coast.

Quoting hirofumi (Reply 3):

Hi bharathkv, thanks for sharing your experience. I flew AI's B777 few years back and I agree with you that seat-pitch is very generous. Also good they keep 3-3-3 arrangement when many 3-4-3 configuration is becoming popular these days. If there is one complain about the seat then it's the angle of recline - even with great seat-pitch, the recline is almost none.

I also agree with food quality - their hot Indian meal is usually a hit, even on domestic flights like DEL-BOM.

How was cabin crew? I tend to usually encounter many aged-chubby ladies who can yell at passengers if they don't stop switching off mobile phones, and could be a bit scary but once you talk to them they are polite. They act more like a "mother" than being CA!

Thanks a lot. The cabin crew was pretty good. I did not find any one who was rude, but then I think they could probably use the word "please" before anything they request from the passengers. It is a small goodwill gesture I feel. Not that other airlines do it, but if AI wants to show Indian values a "please" is a good way to start I think. The attendants were courteous and the passenger next to me had some medical issue and AI was great to have tackled it really quick. I thought we were going to divert or something but then there were onboard doctors who attended to the passenger and she was quickly fine.

Quoting Karan69 (Reply 4):
A nice report , good to see a positive review about AI once in a while,

Was always curious about the transit experience and your report clears my doubts regarding it

Barring the expected dirty planes and lack of attention by the crew, seems to be a hassle free experience

If i might ask how was the price of the ticket in compared to your usua options of BA SQ CX LH and EY

Karan

Thanks Karan. Actually I find most of the reviews about AI good (of course some are really so bad that they pull down the good ones along with them). Also some I feel complain about crying babies, but then usually to avoid crying infants I chose seats farther from those that have the bassinets. In fact I have had bad baby-crying experience in SQ and CX. Not that they are the ones that fly babies, but probably it was my bad day or something. Some complain about rude check-in agents. I think its just that the passenger had a bad day and I can only sympathize with them.

Most the passengers are worried about the delay I think. One good thing is that if you are going to connect to another destination in India say MAA, there is another night flight around 8:30PM DEL-MAA. So pretty much passengers are covered if the delay is around say 4 - 5 hours. Beyond that they will be stuck overnight in DEL.

Price of my AI ticket was almost the same as BA and less expensive than EY. Some of my friends who flew EY warned me that it is not as good as people think. Not sure about that though. SQ did not give me good fares since their connection is a bit round about. CX fares from ORD-HKG-MAA and return are usually very very expensive. Do not know why. Passengers flying MAA-HKG-ORD and return pay almost half of the price that is quoted on fares for CX flights originating from USA.
 
manny
Posts: 563
Joined: Sat Sep 09, 2006 8:59 am

RE: Air India ORD-DEL-MAA

Mon Jul 07, 2014 11:29 pm

Great TR. Looks like AI has an edge over the competition on US routes.

Now they are on Star Alliance i think will get to try them sometime soon.
 
bharathkv
Topic Author
Posts: 69
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2007 12:58 pm

RE: Air India ORD-DEL-MAA

Tue Jul 08, 2014 2:04 pm

Quoting manny (Reply 6):
Great TR. Looks like AI has an edge over the competition on US routes.

Now they are on Star Alliance i think will get to try them sometime soon.

Yes for sure, but then I saw this in CX website recently.

http://www.cathaypacific.com/cx/en_I...olicy-for-travelling-to-india.html

One of the most important advantages AI has on this sector is clearing customs and immigration at the final destination. AI 42 for example is flown from the DEL international terminal to MAA International terminal solely for International passengers. Without this advantage passengers would need to clear customs and immigration at DEL. It is a big bottleneck and would be touch-and-go for passengers who would like some freshen-up time during the layover in DEL. Does this apply to AI also in that case?
 
lychemsa
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RE: Air India ORD-DEL-MAA

Tue Jul 08, 2014 2:53 pm

My father flew Air India in 1950 from Rome to Cairo because TWA was full. I flew Air India from New York to London in 1964 and I still remember the flight.

However in 1966 I was booked on Air India from London to New York. The flight was delayed for 6 hours so I switched to El Al.

Do they still serve orange juice on the ground. Do they still play Indian music as you board?

I wonder whether JET is better.
 
bharathkv
Topic Author
Posts: 69
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2007 12:58 pm

RE: Air India ORD-DEL-MAA

Tue Jul 08, 2014 5:47 pm

Quoting lychemsa (Reply 8):
My father flew Air India in 1950 from Rome to Cairo because TWA was full. I flew Air India from New York to London in 1964 and I still remember the flight.

However in 1966 I was booked on Air India from London to New York. The flight was delayed for 6 hours so I switched to El Al.

Do they still serve orange juice on the ground. Do they still play Indian music as you board?

I wonder whether JET is better.

Hi lychemsa. They do not serve orange juice on ground anymore. I heard some music while boarding but it was not Indian music I think. Also the Air India from the 60s is completely different from the Air India in present. There are lots of places where AI needs to improve, but I feel they have a good product to compete with other airlines.
 
ab486
Posts: 179
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2014 12:26 pm

RE: Air India ORD-DEL-MAA

Tue Jul 08, 2014 6:14 pm

A very enjoyable read! AI look ok here. Some very nice pluses such as the full water bottle and the legroom, but the food on the long haul looked very mediocre and the minor technical faults could be looked at. How were the crews on your flights?
Thanks for sharing,
Adam
 
bharathkv
Topic Author
Posts: 69
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2007 12:58 pm

RE: Air India ORD-DEL-MAA

Tue Jul 08, 2014 7:04 pm

Quoting ab486 (Reply 10):

A very enjoyable read! AI look ok here. Some very nice pluses such as the full water bottle and the legroom, but the food on the long haul looked very mediocre and the minor technical faults could be looked at. How were the crews on your flights?
Thanks for sharing,
Adam

Hi Adam. Thanks. The crew was fine. The captain also was very communicative. He talked to us about the flightpath etc before takeoff. Also one more thing, the inflight entertainment had a landing camera. It was cool to see the aircraft landing. For some reason it was not functional in the beginning of the flight, but worked while landing. The flight attendants were courteous and friendly. I agree, some of the technical issues and no hand soap and napkins in restroom etc bring down the good experiences such as giving water bottle and more legroom.
 
airDFW
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Joined: Mon Aug 20, 2012 7:44 pm

RE: Air India ORD-DEL-MAA

Tue Jul 08, 2014 8:00 pm

So how do they manage the immigration at final destination? Does'nt AI 42 has domestic passengers mixing with international ones and how do they separate them at MAA?
 
airindia787
Posts: 94
Joined: Fri May 20, 2011 8:01 pm

RE: Air India ORD-DEL-MAA

Tue Jul 08, 2014 8:21 pm

Quoting AirDFW (Reply 12):
So how do they manage the immigration at final destination? Does'nt AI 42 has domestic passengers mixing with international ones and how do they separate them at MAA?

If my memory of flying AI serves me correctly, domestic passengers on "international converts" will have a giant "D" printed on the boarding pass. Upon arrival at the destination, domestic passengers will show their boarding pass and will be sent through a special immigration lane for domestic passengers. However, this is quite rare since these flights are designed for international passengers.
 
bharathkv
Topic Author
Posts: 69
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2007 12:58 pm

RE: Air India ORD-DEL-MAA

Wed Jul 09, 2014 3:48 am

Quoting airindia787 (Reply 13):

Yes I agree with airindia787. There are quite a few domestic passengers in this flight and they have D printed on their boarding pass. As in my previous post I don't know if the new baggage policy holds good for AI flights. If so then all international passengers must clear customs and immigration at DEL.
 
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newbief1yer
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RE: Air India ORD-DEL-MAA

Wed Jul 09, 2014 3:07 pm

Great TR bharatkv, and good to see a positive AI report. I am one of the few AI supporters. Have always had a seamless flight with them both domestic and international from London (since 2009)

Quoting bharathkv (Thread starter):
Just make sure you have the complete journey on Air India itself to ensure seamless travel and transit experience.

Dont think this is true. I have been on a LHR-BOM-COK sector where my immigration was done in COK. On the other hand i have also done a LHR-DEL-BOM (same ticket) sector and the immigration was done in DEL.
I think AI have some domestic flights designated as international connections that allow you to get your immigration done at your final destination (mostly midnight/late night flights) i am not sure of specifics though.
 
bharathkv
Topic Author
Posts: 69
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2007 12:58 pm

RE: Air India ORD-DEL-MAA

Wed Jul 09, 2014 5:19 pm

Quoting newbief1yer (Reply 15):
Great TR bharatkv, and good to see a positive AI report. I am one of the few AI supporters. Have always had a seamless flight with them both domestic and international from London (since 2009)

Thanks.

Quoting newbief1yer (Reply 15):
Dont think this is true. I have been on a LHR-BOM-COK sector where my immigration was done in COK. On the other hand i have also done a LHR-DEL-BOM (same ticket) sector and the immigration was done in DEL.
I think AI have some domestic flights designated as international connections that allow you to get your immigration done at your final destination (mostly midnight/late night flights) i am not sure of specifics though.

Interesting. Yes, AI must be having some DEL-BOM flights for which you need to clear immigration and customs at DEL. Btw do you remember how long it takes to clear immigration and customs at DEL and then go to the next flight DEL-BOM?
 
The777Man
Posts: 6091
Joined: Sun Jul 04, 1999 4:54 am

RE: Air India ORD-DEL-MAA

Wed Jul 09, 2014 7:30 pm

Hi !

Nice report with nice pictures! Air India still looks good but the cabin looks a lot more worn then when I flew with them in 2007.

AI 77L JFK-BOM With Pics (by The777Man Nov 14 2007 in Trip Reports)

Looking forward to your next report !

The777Man
Boeing 777s flown: UA, TG, KE, BA, CX, NH, JD, JL, CZ, SQ, EK, NG, CO, AF, SV, KU, DL, AA, MH, OZ, CA, MS, SU, LY, RG, PE, AZ, KL, VN, PK, EY, NZ, AM, BR, AC, DT, UU, OS, AI, 9W, KQ, QR, VA, JJ, ET, TK, PR, BG, T5, CI, MU and LX.. Further to fly.. LH 777
 
bharathkv
Topic Author
Posts: 69
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2007 12:58 pm

RE: Air India ORD-DEL-MAA

Wed Jul 09, 2014 11:16 pm

Quoting The777Man (Reply 17):

Hi !

Nice report with nice pictures! Air India still looks good but the cabin looks a lot more worn then when I flew with them in 2007.

AI 77L JFK-BOM With Pics (by The777Man Nov 14 2007 in Trip Reports)

Looking forward to your next report !

The777Man

Thanks. Yes, AI needs to take care of the interiors well. Some of the cabin issues are really annoying, but then other parts of the service that are good remove that bad experience.

[Edited 2014-07-09 16:17:56]

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