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.
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.
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:
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.
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.