A short video flight report (there's not much that happens on a red eye flight anyway! :P )
July 29th 2015 saw two flights, but no new registrations. The clock struck 12. July 30th. Two flights during the day. The first one at an ungodly 0200 hours in the morning, but hey I did that to myself! It was time to head to Terminal 1B, the Jet Airways terminal. Perhaps the last time. I arrived at 0047 hours, and joined the check in. And to my surprise - the Jet Airways line was pretty long! There were flights to Kolkata, New Delhi, Goa, Ahmedabad, Chennai between 0200 and 0300 hours (and a Bengaluru departure at 0305). The number of people in the check in line was surely encouraging to see for Jet: these red eye flights are popular! And no, passengers transferring from international flights do not have to wait in the check in line, they head straight for security - us passengers in line simply opted for the oddly timed flights!
The very concept of redeye flights was introduced by Jet Airways in 2012, when they launched quite a few red eye flights out of Mumbai, basically a viable connection for international passengers flying in to Mumbai. Today, all low fare airlines operate red eye flights across India with cheaper fares. They are quite popular among the price sensitive Indian folk.
I learnt that some pilots from the Hong Kong - Mumbai flight were deadheading on another domestic flight. Delhi is what I thought, since that's the only other city from where Jet Airways wide bodies depart from. I waited a good fifteen minutes in the line. It was time to check my bags in. 16kgs is what both weighing scales showed, a 30kg limit on the international, and 40kg limit on the Premiere class flight. I only had a 15kg limit for this domestic economy class flight. 16kgs is what the scale showed, again. 'You have exceeded the baggage limit by one kilo. How many bags do you have sir..?' asked the lady at the check in counter 'Just these two..' I said 'Okay, I'll tag your bags through..' And there we go! 16kgs in Economy for a super discounted ticket - this was awesome!
Security was pretty quick because there wasn't anyone in line of course. I headed for the Cafe Coffee Day but it was closed - however, the nice people there let me take a seat staring at the tarmac, not that it made a difference because it was 0130 in the morning and the rains had its effect with the droplets on the glass. I wasn't there for very long, trying to keep my sleep away.
According to the aircraft type shown on expedia, a Boeing 737-800 WINGLETS would operate my flight. From my tested theory, this means a B73H, or a high gross weight 737, usually the ones with inflight entertainment, or the Boeing Sky Interior. VT-JBM/N/P (the no-IFE, no BSI birds) were off to their respective South India - Gulf runs, I wrote these registrations off the list. A bus to Kolkata???
Being a silent airport, I walked out for a bit and saw that boarding for 9W484 to Kolkata was already underway. I decided to head for boarding. The bus was cold. And so was the weather (well, in relative terms). The bus drive was a bit long. We stopped close to one plane, and I found it tricky to see the registration. I stepped out, and there it said on the nosewheel: BC! VT-JBC, a HGW Boeing 737-800, with IFE! This was awesome, finally a new registration! Swissair from Zurich and Lufthansa from Munich A330-300s made their arrivals..
I stepped on to the plane and I got a pretty warm welcome onboard! I walked into the cabin and noticed two things: first of all, the pilots were deadheading to Kolkata on my flight! And second, the business class seats were the ultimate shock of my life - they weren't the international leather seats! They no longer were - they're the old cloth seats! And that's when the second shock came, in economy class. The international economy class seats have a headrest and this wonderful thing called a personal TV screen. Nope. None of them. TVs were deadweight on the bulkhead divider, and a few seats here and there, but they mostly were the Konnect seats. I took my seat 14F. It then struck me that this plane was thrown into a domestic only rotation a few months ago (9W2363 Pune - Bengaluru - Kolkata - Guwahati - Imphal/Jorhat and 9W2364 on the return .And that's when I doubted things about JBC - why would they use a plane for international flights on a domestic rotation? The answer was clear. JBC has now been condemned to domestic only operations.
A painful to see cabin interior….
The plane filled up rather well actually! Not sure how many were actually BOM-CCU passengers since this flight was codeshared with Etihad, ANA, Alitalia, Air France and Virgin Atlantic. However, it wasn't full enough to ensure that I'd have an comfortable 2.5 hours - the middle seat was empty. One plane that saw nearly got me a tear in my eye…. UL141 from Colombo had arrived. Nope, not the bog standard A320, but instead, a beautiful A330-200 registered 4R-ALD!
We pushed back more or less on time, and a super quick taxi dash to Runway 27 followed, we took off into the dark skies over Mumbai and turned. The CFM56-7B24 engines sounded quieter than what I heard on VT-JGR: this plane was just less than a year younger than JGR and yet it sounded like such a huge leap in engine efficiency!
It was a pretty turbulent flight along the way. Food served was exactly the same as what I got on 9W626 less than two weeks ago. And there I was expecting something else, darn it!
Lights went off, my tray table was mysteriously closed as I fell asleep. I only woke up once to see an Ethiopian Airlines 767 fly back to Addis Ababa from Hong Kong - pretty epic sight for the time of day er night!
And then next time I woke up, the cabin was being prepared for arrival. It was about 0358 when we began what was a pretty roller coaster of a descent! Clouds caused a load of bumps, so much so that the engines were applied full throttle for about half a second before being pulled back - it sounded pretty scary! Rainwater splashed onto the windows and disappeared, before returning again. This was some treacherous weather we were dealing with!
It wasn't long before we touched down on Runway 01R, and a pretty hard one at that.
We were about four minutes late (9W484 has a block time of 2hr25min, as opposed to the other flights during the more sane hours, which have a block time between 2hr45min and 3hrs, so reaching before time is unlikely with this flight, while still reaching a few minutes late..) Kolkata airport was unsurprisingly dead at the hour. A shower had just passed by, judging by the lakes created on the tarmac. VT-JGT had arrived from New Delhi, she'd head to Port Blair. VT-JBC would now head to Delhi as 9W2315. Amazing isn't it? Rather than parking a plane in one airport, fly it as a red eye to another, before having an early morning service to a third airport…and these are all trunk routes! Kudos to Jet for utilizing the planes well.
A mystery Qatar Airways 777!
The last I'll be seeing this depressing interior….hopefully!
An announcement was made for all Silchar bound passengers to stay back on the plane. The sun started to rise as I headed down the stairs into the last bus waiting. Seeing the deadweight TVs once again made me sad. The ground agent seemed a bit flustered because only three of the four passengers to Silchar actually were on the bus, leading to a potential delay of the ATR's departure (VT-JCR). We stopped right by JCR, dropped the passengers off as I saw people get off VT-JGT, again, parked at a remote stand because mostly IndiGo planes occupied the jet bridges by parking their planes there overnight. There was VT-JFW parked at the aerobridge, which headed back to Mumbai as 9W618.
The sun started rising rapidly. Entering the terminal, it was quite a long walk to our luggage belt. And we had the passengers of 9W2263 from Delhi along with us at the same belt. That did lead to a bit of a crowd, but not too much because both flights were about 60-70% full. Bags took quite some time to arrive! I spent a good hour from landing to getting bags…says a lot, right? Come on Kolkata!
Dealt with a rude partially drunk cabbie driver to my uncle's place quite some distance away from Kolkata airport. Surprised the folk there because I showed up unannounced. Well, they weren't too happy about my antics….but that didn't kill the avgeek in me! :P
A day of chilling out in the house as I prepared to return onboard Emirates, and their (now history) A330 service from Kolkata to Dubai!
Mumbai - BOM
Kolkata - CCU
This was quite a strange flight with Jet Airways. As they say - you get what you paid for! I bought this ticket for dirt cheap very early on, and I got a neutered plane (being a bit dramatic here hehehe), and the exact same meal from a few weeks ago. I slept through most of the flight, but when I saw, the cabin crew were smiling and were attentive. Thanks to the check in lady at Mumbai for letting my luggage through despite being overweight! Jet said I'd get only 20% of the regular miles because of the very discounted fare, but I got the standard 100% miles, so I can't complain!
Mumbai Airport's T1B is quite dead in the wee hours of the morning, so there is not much to do any way. Its the international T2 that's bustling at 2am in the morning!
Kolkata airport made me quite unhappy. Bags took forever to arrive! And there's nothing to do...other than the prepaid taxi, and beware: drivers could be quite shady!
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