Hey all! Welcome to my first trip report. I would like to share a few experiences from my flights back in early 2015. I have a video trip report accompanying this text trip report:
This trip features a round trip from Colombo (Sri Lanka) to New Delhi, on Jet Airways, through its home base in Mumbai. I was traveling with my father.
There was something different about the drive to the airport. No, it wasn’t a taxi driver taking us or were we taking a different route. I was driving to the airport! It was a proud moment as I already felt like a F1 racer. On the highway, I touched about 120kmph, which was 40kmph too much, and I only have a learner’s license. I did overtake 2 cars on the expressway, felt good! The slow driver (me) got us to the airport at exactly 0318 hours. Christmas decorations were still there on the approach road. A huge crowd was present, but that was just the crowd seeing off their family. Or was it? We got down, and just before entering the terminal, we were stopped by the guard who wanted to see our identification. He asked us something in Sinhala to which I politely said ‘Sinhala dan nay..’ (which is basically me telling him in Sinhala that I don’t know Sinhala), and the two of us burst out laughing, Dad not having a clue as to what was going on! We entered the main passenger terminal, and boy oh boy was there a crowd!
Seemingly full flights to Kuwait, Sharjah and Dubai, as there were a lot of passengers checking in. Lines were horrendously long and a bigger crowd was created thanks to the Malaysia Airlines and Emirates check in boards just kept, creating mass confusion. Plenty of passengers for the Mumbai Jet flight, I also saw some Nepali passports, so that meant they'd fly CMB-BOM-KTM! Counters 43-47 for us, 2 for Y, 1 for OLCI, 1 for J/platinum/gold etc.
Check in took a very long due to issues for others, but the lady was very nice, tagged our bags all the way to DEL, told us about the customs at Mumbai, and put Malaysia Airlines fragile tags. I found out that VT-JFQ would operate my flight from Colombo to Mumbai, one of Jet's newer planes with the Boeing Sky Interior.
Immigration and all were quick, was airside by 0352, I headed up to the palm strip for some spotting.
I look at the time: Oh My its 0520 hours! Boarding time! I head off through a rather crowded CMB Airport terminal. I begin the long walk towards gate 8, or according to the boarding pass, gate A8. Security is relatively empty because every passenger is in the holding area. I take my time, all’s well. Boarding starts as soon as I show my boarding pass, and it gets torn off.
Boarding starts. Its about 0538 hours. Boarding is announced for passengers seated in rows 25-36. I wait aside. I do not see Dad. I'm a bit worried. I see a Kuwait Airways A300 pushes back at 0546. A quick turnaround for her! Boarding is called for passengers seated in rows 15-36. I hear some beautiful GE CF6s as the Kuwait Airways heads off. Its an amazing experience! As the crowd fizzles out, I still see Dad isn’t around.
I board VT-JFQ, no mood lighting or anything on, but really welcomed me was the inviting sound of the A300’s GE CF6 and 2 flight attendants who were there, smiling at times, sometimes not… I’m also invited by a long queue of passengers putting their stuff up in the bins. One of the FAs offer drinks to J class passengers: pomegranate and watermelon are the options which I hear, amongst others.
Welcome announcements were being done, but it was just too loud - I couldn’t hear a thing, and presumably neither did any one of the passengers who were all chattering away. After a separate announcement, informing ground personnel to deplane, purser Payal does the whole welcome announcements, introducing the crew to us, and giving us more detail of the flight: we’d have a slightly lengthy flying time of 2hr20min; where did all the helpful tailwind disappear to?
At 0604 hours, 6 minutes before time, we pushed back and our engines are brought into life. The safety demo is done. As we slowly started taxiing, behind A6-ANS and passing three UL A340s, an amazing orange light was turned on as mood lighting, signifying the sunrise. This was soon turned to a darkish blue for take off.
Take off was strange. Not only the fact that it wasn’t a full length take off, a first for me at Colombo, we inched on to the runway with about 1/3rd power applied, and by inch, I’m not joking! We nearly came to a standstill half way while turning! And to make this a bit more worrying, we slowly inched forward for nearly 15 odd meters, I saw a technical snag propping up, and us turning back to the gate. But just then, JFQ’s engines were applied full thrust and we took off into the brightening skies of Katunayke, we were on our way to Mumbai.
If the Sky Interior lighting wasn’t enough (it changed back to orange as soon as the fasten seatbelt signs were turned off), there was a beautiful performance by nature itself, as an orange line fitted in between the seemingly blue and gray horizon: the sun was rapidly rising and this looked absolutely stunning. I mean come on - who wants entertainment when all this is happening? Also, this time, I didn’t make the critical error sitting on the starboard side, wherein the rising sun would’ve caused some intense glare, RUINING all the pictures. But this was just so beautiful!
0627 hours, just a few minutes after take off, a trolley is rolled towards the front. Strangely, I do not get any smell at all. Hmm, this didn’t bode well, I hoped the food was good! 5 minutes later, another trolley is pulled from behind, serving the rows from the back. At about 0632 hours, we level off at 38000 feet. I admire nature’s art as the trolley is being pulled back rather rapidly. Giving the food so fast? Either way, after the FAs asked what the passenger(s) wanted, they did so with a smile. And even while serving it, they gave a warm smile. This was very good! As the trolleys got closer, I figured that this was a pre-meal beverage service! Awesome! This is the first time I saw a separate service for drinks on Jet Airways! And all of this, with a warm smile. I ask for a tomato juice, which is again delivered with a smile. There are bottles of water, Pepsi, 7 Up, Miranda, a variety of juices such as apple, orange, mango, mixed fruit, tomato and grapefruit. Add to that, a few cans of beer. What a variety! In fact, if I may add, one of the crew members was called by a passenger to get her bag down from the overhead compartment. The only male FA attended to her, and he did this with a smile, despite being stopped for a bit from continuing service.
The Captain came over the PA system at 0648, giving us a very detailed announcements (38k feet, heading north, arrival time in Mumbai, turbulent flight, some headwind/tailwind stuff, 0835 arrival etc). True to his word, 0651 hours, we hit a rough patch of air, and the plane shook violently.
The crew come around (twice) to clear up the trash. 0702 hours, a gentle voice says ‘Please mind your arms legs!’, as the FA pulls up the meal trolley to the front, and this time I notice food containers. Seconds later, another trolley is pulled up to row 20. And this FA, I didn’t notice much until this point. She had a smile on her face which simply couldn’t be removed. In fact, while serving, she’d explain the contents of the main course. This set of meals were more of non veg than veg…pretty OK I guess, since everyone opted for that. She came over to my row and gave me a smile - but rather than giving me an option, she smiled and handed me a tray directly. ‘Sir, eggs with chicken cutlet..’
While this turning into a superb flight, the first major flaw came. The tray was tiny! I mean even the JetKonnect meal from 2014 had a slightly larger tray! And the main contents, that was just so tiny! I felt low….. …However, when I opened it, I was surprised. Some sautéed potatoes, masala omelette type scrambled egg and chicken cutlet. Catering was done from Mumbai, as was indicated on the creamer packet and water bottle. I dig in to the sautéed potato slices first - cooked to perfection, albeit on the slight oily side, but not overly oily. There was a perfect amount of salt, and this was pleasing to the tongue. As expected, the egg didn’t contain salt. So, I call the FA for one, she stops her service, and asks me what I want. I tell her my need, I asked for a salt and pepper. She gets me one, with another smile. The cutlet was nice and soft, so nearly the type that would melt in your mouth, but it was amazingly soft nonetheless. Taste was also pretty awesome, quite tangy and nice. Awesome meal, but just not enough in portion
The fruit salad was pretty general with watermelon, muskmelon and papaya. These were not that fresh though, slightly on the acidic side. So, other than the meal portion and fruit, Jet had clearly delivered.
Turbulence rocked the bird once again, seat belt signs came on. Because of this, the flight attendants apologized for not having a tea/coffee service. This was a first for me - very SQ-esque, and probably good for the pax, too. Duty free sale announcements were made, and lead FA Payal took the duty free cart and did a couple of rounds in the plane. I saw a scale model of the Jet Airways 777-300ER…and I moved my head as the cart was being drawn past. My eyes were firmly set on what I wanted…I just didn’t have the money.
Anyways, I don’t think Jet allows credit card purchases, or purchases in INR. Quite a few people bought stuff, which was really good. One passenger got quite pissed off at the fact that purchases weren’t allowed in INR, and he started ranting about how bad an airline Jet is and he had no choice but to fly Jet. (REALLY.) Purser Payal just shrugged it off by saying ‘I’m sorry sir, but its airline policy.’, smiled and continued on with sales.
Descent started at 0757 hours as the crew prepared the cabin for arrival, including that awesome smelling disinfectant spray. We lined up for the usual runway 27 approach. A smooth touchdown at 0831 hours as we rather rapidly taxied out on to the…rapid taxiway
Along the way, I saw a horror show, known as the Air India hangars in Mumbai. 1 fuselage of an A310, 2 B747s (ESP and ESO), 2 77Ls (ALH looking good, ALG gone), AI B787 (ANI) and a decently kept IX B73H. However though, it was sheer joy looking at those beautiful Air India Airbus tails in the sun… I knew I was well and truly home! Then followed the IndiGo and Jet Airways tails at Terminal 1B. A SpiceJet B737 was around, pushing back. The announcement - ‘To all international guests welcome to India, and to fellow Indians, a warm welcome home.’ So many times I’ve heard this announcement, but this time, it well and got to me. I was feeling a sense of belonging, a home in Mumbai which I miss oh so much. Enough with the jibber jabber, Mumbai’s new T2! An EK B77W and 6E A320 were around, so were VT-JBZ (B73J operating to DAC) and a beautiful Saudi Arabian 777-200ER. JFQ slowly taxied towards the terminal, yes an aerobridge international arrival at Mumbai, this was a first for me! We parked right beside the mighty VT-ALR, which had come in from JED early in the morning, and would head to RUH soon.
Aerobridge took a while to get connected, but an announcement was made that bags would arrive on belt 3. Very helpful info! We began to disembark, I thanked the crew for a wonderful flight, certainly the best I’ve ever had on BOM-CMB-BOM rotation!
As I disembarked, there was a mess going on at the T2. None of the electrical buggies were working so there were problems in accommodating passengers with special needs. Add to that, a shortage of wheelchairs. One FA was calling out passengers to board flights to CDG/HKG/BKK/LHR/KTM/DXB. Who knew, CMB-DXB via BOM is an option? There were clearly about 50-60 people here, a lot of connecting passengers! I started my long walk towards immigration, and this long walk was an absolute pain. Half the travelators weren’t working. I saw something new: VT-TTB OF VISTARA!!!! I had an aerobridge in the way, I quickly ran a bit forward and saw only the rear end
It was only now when I finally noticed the paintings and all. And this is when everything went more pear shaped than a pear - Dad got off earlier and had established a big lead. I followed the long path towards immigration. Along the way, there was an ebola scan, passengers had to fill a form. Which passengers? Apparently, only the passengers from certain countries, not from Sri Lanka though. And no one said a thing to us! Added to that, I was already searching for forms and all, there were none. Long after this I realized that we didn’t have to fill the form in, no one said a thing, no signs or anything. A horrific mess. Next up was immigration, while that was surprisingly quick given the number of passengers (all counters were open!), I forgot Indians didn’t have to fill the form. Oh dear.
Went through the duty free, collected the bags (which by the way, were from belt 5 as opposed to belt 3 as announced, belt 3 was at the domestic section of T2 Razz ). Clearing customs, for once, FOR ONCE, wasn’t even a pain! Just hand luggage had to be scanned, nice! And this done pretty quickly, we dropped off our bags for 9W307 to DEL, and waited in the transfer bus line for a good 20 odd minutes before finally boarding a bus.
I will post 9W307, the BOM-DEL flight pretty soon!
Colombo - CMB
Mumbai - BOM
Jet Airways had just been through some very significant changes in December 2014, and this was my first flight since the implementation of these. It set up for a pretty nice set of flights coming up and I sure was excited to see what Jet had to offer on the very busy BOM-DEL route next.
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