I was joined by Mum on this flight. It would be the only flight on this trip in which I wouldn't alone (without anyone in the family, that is..) Mum was initially booked on 9W610, departure from Kolkata around noon. However, Jet changed the times for this flight to a very late afternoon departure! Called up the call center to get this changed (without any fee being imposed, whew!), and booked my ticket on the same flight. This flight in question was 9W626. The plane comes in from Mumbai as 9W618 (departure Mumbai at 0605am, arrival at 0845am), before heading back to Mumbai as 9W626 (my flight) and then continuing on to Goa (a very short flight from Mumbai). The aircraft would then return to Mumbai, and head off to either Riyadh or Jeddah in Saudi Arabia overnight, before going through the entire cycle again. Linking the rotation to the long BOM-RUH/JED-BOM flights meant that a Boeing 737-900ER would operate this flight, a first for me!
I used the mobile check in for this flight, and this worked flawlessly for both Mum and I (separate tickets/PNRs). I took the seat just in front of the middle emergency exit row (not the overwing exits).
Mum decided to leave home at a rather early 0630 hours, for a 0925 flight, owing previous experiences of dreadful Kolkata traffic. However though, I convinced her that our flight would depart at a non-peak hour at Kolkata. However, she still stuck to her point - if we leave late, we get stuck in Kolkata traffic. Four hectic days came to an end, I was looking forward to my flight 'back' to Mumbai. We literally flew through the city of Kolkata, we reached the impressive new terminal at 0716 hours. Kolkata does not have inline baggage screening. To be honest, I am more comfortable with this because the zips are given another lock right in front of our eyes, if that’s broken on arrival, airline’s fault. Then again, the line could get horrendously long……
The terminal was empty, just as I had expected. Just a few IndiGo departures here and there (to Chennai, Guwahati I think and Bengaluru/Goa). Jet Airways counters were pretty empty. We went towards the check in counter….and the lady there yawned upon our arrival. Seriously, we aren't that boring! (or so I convinced myself). Anyway, she got our check in done, and was otherwise quite chirpy, communicating with us in Bengali. She informed us our luggage was 2kgs over the limit, so Mum had to pay for it sadly. Rs600 (less than $9, €8) went. She asked me to go back and have a seat and she’d call me once Mum was done paying. Nah, I just stood there haha. She wrote the number of hand luggages on the boarding passes and informed us that the flight would depart from Gate 19.
It was 0730. I was in an overly cheeky mood. I was put on probation twice over the four days because I made my cousin cry on small practical jokes. Not that it helped contain my cheeky head. At security, it was fairly quick. However, the security lady stamping the bag tags didn’t find the tag on one of Mum’s bags. I found it for her and said - here it is. She got angry and asked me why I didn’t put it higher so that she could see it easily. I told her - "the whole world doesn’t have this system, its only in India. Your job is to search for the tag and stamp it, correct? How does it make a difference if you can’t see it or not…you need to find it." She got even more angry and started raising her voice, and we walked away towards The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf…legend has it, she’s still yelling. I guess somethings never change! Anyway.
Went to Coffee Bean and ordered my usual Double Chocolate. While it took some time to come, didn’t matter to us since we had to kill a lot of time anyways. The huge glass panels were fogged up. I couldn’t see anything. Luckily we had time to kill at CB&TF. I went to the washroom, and the first thing I saw was an Emirates Boeing 777-200ER, arriving into Kolkata on time. The washroom wasn't picture worthy, it was okay, not spotlessly clean to be honest, but much better than what I’ve seen at the old terminal!
Around 0815, we headed for Gate 19, our departure gate. It looked quite full. The fog on the glass panel cleared up. Spotting time! Not much of interesting stuff, just the Drukair A319, VT-SCC (Air India A319 in the short lived Indian livery but with *A stickers), the ultra rare Regent Airways B737-700, some IndiGO A320s (including VT-INR, my first 6E flight on that plane..) 0840 hours, nicely before time, VT-JLH taxied in and parked at bay 56R. VT-SCC was at bay 56L, preparing for its flight to Agartala.
Here's a bit of info about Jet Airways and JetKonnect. When Jet Airways bought Air Sahara back in 2007, Jet named Air Sahara to Jetlite, a low cost airline. Jet Airways and Jetlite have two different operator permits, but are owned by Jet Airways alone. However, due to the economic downturn, Jet Airways came up with another 'brand' that happened to be Jet Airways Konnect, another LCC. Basically Jetlite, but on planes operating under the Jet Airways permit. The three Jet Airways, Jetlite and Jet Airways Konnect caused a lot of confusion. In 2012, Jet merged Jetlite and Jet Airways Konnect to JetKonnect, before finally doing away the name JetKonnect in late 2014, reverting to a full service model and calling themselves Jet Airways, even if the colours of JetKonnect still exists.
VT-JLJ has some pretty bland looking 'Jet Airways' titles to go with the interesting color scheme of yellow and light blue. However, my plane VT-JLH still holds the JetKonnect colors.
Also notice VT-ANQ operating flight AI401 from New Delhi, one of two daily Dream)liner services between New Delhi and Kolkata (the latter of which I took!)
Boarding started more or less on time, just about 5-6 minutes late. A long queue formed up. Mum and I waited. The beautiful Air India Boeing 787 came in from Delhi, as AI401. Yup, truth be told, I perhaps would've loved seeing a Boeing 777-200LR, since I had a Dream)liner overdose at Delhi. Once the majority of the queue had boarded, Mum and I headed towards the plane. Boarding was good fun! About 3 or 4 confusing twists and turns, I came up face to face with SCC, while also getting a glimpse of the Dream)liner at the International terminal.
Finally, I was getting closer and closer to the relevant plane, VT-JLH. My 737-900ER. I could truly appreciate the length of this bird - amazing! I stepped in. A pretty standard welcome by the steward up front. Mum was right in front, I gave her seat 23A, that is the reclining emergency exit seat. However, some other lady sat there, but Mum politely asked her to move away. It was my turn to face something similar: my seat 31F, the last row before emergency exit, start of the aft section. I made eye contact with the person nicely sitting down on my seat 31F. No passengers behind me, still in my very cheeky mood, I decided to play with him. I nearly sat down on 30F, saw that he was getting comfortable in 'his seat' 31F, I 'realized' that I was in the wrong seat and asked him to move over. He didn't make a fuss so it was OK. Newspapers were being distributed, which was an honest surprise to me.
Pushback happened at 0931. The length of this plane was amazing. Despite this, as usual, the sound of the CFM56s starting up brought a smile to my face. The safety demo happened, cabin secured, an FA came and sat behind me.
Brand new Bombardier Q400 of Biman Bangladesh!
Taxiing was very bumpy - I honestly didn't know if we were at the NSCBI Airport or just another road in Kolkata with the signs saying 'Today's pain is tomorrow's gain. And that sign too has been around for 11 years now! We were holding short of runway 19L, as we waited for a company ATR72-500 to land. We taxied on to the runway and blasted off to turn towards the west and set course for Mumbai, through the cloudy monsoon skies. The lightly loaded Boeing 737 took quite some time to reach its cruising altitude.
Using the front facing (or otherwise known as 'selfie') camera to take a picture of the cabin behind me - 46 more seats behind me!
I was taking some video footage for the VTR. The very enthusiastic captain came over the PA system quite loudly - my Camera nearly fell off my hands, which brought about a smile on the face of Vanessa, one of the flight attendants serving us humble Y folk. Well, embarrassment for me! ANYWAY, the nice Captain gave us a load of details: flying time of 2 hours and 10 minutes, cruising altitude of 36000 feet, traffic in Mumbai, arrival time, on time performance, etc.
Meal service started at 0953 hours, with the distribution of special meals to the passengers who ordered them. Two trolleys were pulled to the front. The non vegetarian meals were distributed, 1004 hours the flight attendant confirmed my non veg meal and handed it over to me. Lovely - online selection of non veg option never worked with Kingfisher, never worked with Vistara, (never tried it on Air India), but it works on Jet! A very empty looking tray…
I was disappointed with what I got - just the main course box, the SkyMart thing, green chutney and the cutlery. No cut fruits or bun, which clearly meant only one thing - no breakfast. The main container had a potato puff which was nothing much to write about, but the three pieces of chicken tikka will always be remembered as the best three pieces of chicken I've ever had on a plane, hands down. Finally - Jet has a meal to remember, albeit a small proportion.
Never heard of this drinking water brand!
Non vegetarian meals ran out fairly soon, the veggie option consisted of somethings that looked like Mumbai's pretty famous Batata vada and spring rolls. The lack of dessert meant only one thing - ice cream for dessert. It was some Amul Butterscotch ice cream, which was pretty tasteless. The usual tea and coffee service began, I went for some tea.
Except for the three pieces of chicken that were the only saving grace of what was a less than satisfactory meal, Jet clearly has a long long way to go when it comes to meals on domestic flights. I wasn't very impressed with what I had got, to be honest.
Flying over an airport I'm not too sure of:
About an hour to go, stuff got quite boring. To entertain myself, I headed for the washroom. The rear section of the plane was pretty empty, row 32 had four seats: no window seats, of course, they being the emergency exit seats. The washroom was clean. To kill time I sat on 32E, and my God was it cramped! A really narrow seat, I couldn't spend four minutes there, let alone four hours plus! Legroom though, was perhaps as good as Premiere class, so that helps.
Not too long before descent, the very enthusiastic Captain once again came over the PA system to give us the latest arrival information, including a notification on the arrival time - rather than coming in early, we'd arrive exactly on time due to the congestion at Mumbai during the time. And so, descent started at 1128 hours, one extra 'circle' over Mumbai's many suburbs, we started making quick progress towards Mumbai and Earth.
We lined up with Runway 27, through the thick yet relatively forgiving clouds of the Mumbai monsoon before a smooth landing was followed by some pretty hard Mumbai/Boeing 737 hard braking. Taxiing did not last very long which meant the announcements had to be rushed. We docked at an aerobridge. You rarely see two Jet Airways Boeing 737-900s together, but in the city of hopes and dreams, anything is possible: we parked beside a company B737-900, VT-JGC, which would of course, head to Delhi (the older non-winglet 737-900s usually fly between Delhi and Mumbai)
Bags were on Belt 1, as announced on board after arrival. Belt 1 had bags from metro flights (Jet flights from Delhi, Hyderabad and Kolkata to Mumbai), while Belt 2 had tier 2 flights like those from Vadodra, Rajkot, Nagpur, etc.
We booked an EasyCab which was a bit tricky to find, and then drove all the way through what perhaps is my favourite city ever. It felt awesome to be back in Mumbai. I was into my final stint of my India trip, but I still had three more Boeing flights to go!
In my next flight, I fly to Hyderabad - in pursuit of the Air India Boeing 747!
Kolkata - CCU
Mumbai - BOM
A pretty average flight with Jet Airways. Just like on the international leg (CMB-BOM), this flight had a very light load, a meal that I won't remember for very big reasons, and a so-so set of crew members. The meal gets a 6 because of the two succulent pieces of chicken, otherwise the meal deserved something less than 4. Same goes for entertainment - I was surprised to see newspapers being distributed, but my seat pocket had no magazine. Again, negative there.
Kolkata's new terminal is surely a step forward, but there are some things that would perhaps never change. The people, is the first one. Rude security staff. It also wasn't as clean as Mumbai or Delhi's new terminals (then again, BOM and DEL are owned by private firms, CCU by the government).
Mumbai's T1B does get very messy at times. That was shown when we were trying to find the taxi, where it was very inconvenient for all of us.
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