As always, I will start by sharing the link to the video flight report, which you can find here:
Once my internet was used up, I decided to head up to check in for my Air India flight to Kolkata. It was around 2.45am. I joined the reasonably long line, which for once worked in to my hands :) Everyone in the line were checking in for international flights while here I was checking in for a flight in four hours, and to Kolkata of all places. (Hey, at least, its a widebody!) Was a good twenty minutes in line, both bags checked in to an exact 25kgs, the nice lady at the check in handled everything efficiently and with a smile. Security was pretty quick, too.
Big Santa greets you airside during Christmas :)
Airside, most of the shops had their lights on, but for the most part, they were closed. I headed to the Indian joint just before the junction to the gates: I could come back at 3.30 for food. It was 3am. I headed back to the food court where once again, pretty much everything was closed barring the McDonalds. Bland stuff in the USA meant that I went for THE spiciest burger McDonalds had to serve. And my God did it have an impact in my tummy!
Not a good 3 in the morning snack…no to spice fests!
I felt a bit more hungry and I headed off to the Indian place for Kulcha and chhole.
Gate 29B was where flight AI035 to Kochi was boarding. This was being operated by a sharklet equipped bird. Gate 29B also had one of the long rest chairs - just what I needed! I spent an entire hour there, half asleep for about forty minutes. It felt relaxing.
I saw AI35 depart, and to my surprise, operated by VT-EXB, an A320 with sharklets. Gate 34 was not too far away. An Air India Dream)liner silently waited, with trucks around and some form of life. She was being prepared for departure to Kolkata. An Oberoi truck stuck around, catering would be from them this morning. There was not much to see at the tip of the terminal, I saw a Jet Airways B738 (VT-JFM) taxi by in the thick fog. Drifting in and about of sleep, boarding was called more or less on time (0623 hours), in the usual orderly fashion. Passengers with infants, followed by priority members, Executive Class, rows 30-37, 25-37 and then full boarding for all others.
I for once decided to rush for boarding, knowing I'd require space for my bag. I wasn't going to spend the next 2 hours with my bag lurking under the seat in front, aka, my legroom. Quick look at the nose wheel door, VT-ANQ, a Charleston built 1.6 year old 787 would take me home. She had come in from London as AI116. Two crew members waited at the main door to greet us passengers, I headed back all the way to row 27, and my seat 27A. A lovely blue mood lighting was in place with some very soothing music playing. Temperature was just right, the stage was set for a winter flight from Delhi to Kolkata. The sun wasn't out yet, but that rapidly rose.
This flight marked the beginning of very interesting co passengers on flights in my trip. Mr. I like My Left Armrest (Mr. ILMLA) took seat 27B and he instantly took possession of his left armrest (my right armrest). Mr. ILMLA elbowed me on the side and I made it clear that I wasn't appreciating his antics, but this unfazed him. Anyway, the relatively young crew distributed newspapers, but it gave me the impression that they weren't really motivated to serve the morning's flight.
Mr. ILMLA nudged me a couple times before it was time to pushback. The safety videos and Dream)liner feature videos were played. Captain Atul Singh was in command that morning as he and his crew would take us across the 1435km stretch in 1hr45min, while breakfast would be served enroute.
Pushback was largely on time at 0701 hours. The two GEnx engines were brought to life and boy was it loud! It helped that most passengers were asleep so it was really quiet onboard. The entire cabin shook as the engines were fired up. This soon turned some very whiny 787 sounds, electricky sounds.
We slowly began taxiing towards runway 29 in some moderately thick fog. Couple of Jet 737s, Vistara A320s and Air India Regional regional planes were parked. A lone Jet Airways 737 was kept aside. This was a new VT-JTC (well, new registration), waiting to to be commissioned into service.
Out there in the distance, in the fog, was a VT-JFM operating flight 9W807 to Bengaluru. Mr. ILMLA liked his left armrest so much that he used it for his headphone jack, when it actually was the other one. I decided to be evil and play the Minions movie so that he heard the audio for this rather than his movie. But he figured out on his own later on. :(
Lined up with runway 29 and a long take off roll followed, we were airborne at 0721 hours and an eastward course was set for Kolkata. The lovely sunrise popped up in the horizon for a bit, but soon the Dream)liner was flying straight into this. Window controls were let go, I could play around a bit with this for a while.
Fly, on your way, like an eagle, Fly as high as the sun, On your way, like an eagle, Fly and touch the sun.
An uneventful flight is what I needed, and suffice to say, that is exactly what happened. A very quiet cabin as most passengers were asleep, while no moodlighting was set up. Meal service started at 0740 hours, two trolleys were rolled up for each aisle. As I mentioned before, the crew didn't exactly smile, but they did crack a smile or two when passengers appreciated their work (basically those saying thank you…).
Omelette or vegetarian were the choices. I went for the omelette. Mr. ILMLA invaded some more of my personal space, I sought vengeance my dimming the windows so it was tricky for him to see out of the 787's massive windows.
Omelette had some lovely potato wedges and boiled veggies to go with it. The omelette was itself fluffy and flavorful. Fresh cut fruits included watermelon, a muskmelon and pineapple slice. They were fresh. A hot bread was provided with some molten (but not completely liquid) butter. I went for some tea afterwards and it was absolutely wonderful, some amazing tea compared to the bland stuff I got on KLM :(
The flight was going pretty quickly. We were cruising at 41000 feet. We hit some moderate turbulence, it was fun to see the wings jiggle about! (better representation in the video flight report..)
DESCENT AND ARRIVAL
However, descent began not too long after as we slowly went down to 39000 then 37000 feet. Finally I felt the nose dip a lot more when the crew members prepared the cabin for arrival.
We descended into a foggy Kolkata as we landed on Runway 19L at 0852 hours, and taxied to gate.
Docked at the usual gate 16, we disembarked a while later, was a long walk to the baggage carousel in the domestic terminal. That took a good half an to arrive. Fully loaded 787 and being one of the first to check in, the lateness was perhaps understood.
I was so tired after my long trip all the way from Chicago, I did not notice the crash (even in the picture below!!) until my father told me about it.
Wow, over 30 hours of traveling, I reunited with my parents after 4 months, the winter had break begun!
New Delhi - DEL
Kolkata - CCU
So, the primary reasons I chose this Air India flight were: 25kgs (55.1lbs) luggage allowance that is in line with the international limit of 1 bag being 23kgs (50lbs), same terminal departure for this flight, Star Alliance points, and Boeing 787-8 Dream)liner :) The extra monetary cost involved in this as compared to the low cost carrier (IndiGo, Go Air) earlier morning departures outweighed the pain of changing terminals and readjusting the weight of my luggage. Considering these factors, a pretty decent flight with Air India, and once again going against popular belief that Air India is one of the worst airlines in the world. So far, so good with them.
Not ideal to spend so many hours at Delhi's T3, but hey its better than nothing! Services were open early on, and I got an hour's nap down, all well and good.
Kolkata was a bit slow in getting the bags out, but the new and clean terminal is a sure step forward!
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Layover between 1 and 7 AM? Shit..
Great shots of the transition from night to day, I just love it!
Beautiful wing shots.
Meal looks great for a flight like this one.
Have a good one, see you later!
Yeah, this long layover was not ideal...however, this did go by quickly somehow....
Winters are fun because of the opportunity to take those transition shots...the B787 wing is simply awesome! :D
And trust Air India to have decent meals :)
More to come, do stay tuned!
Great meal for short flight
We all have had experiences with Mr. ILMA's :)
What "crash" was there at Kolkata airport?
Yeah, I love the catering on the Indian flights - a meal on the full service carriers, no matter what the duration of he flight.
Man, I think the issue was sitting on the port side, LOL :P
Basically, a sleep deprived Jet Airways coach driver was on the roster to drive the coach in the wee hours the morning (2/3am). He kinda dozed off, going straight across the tarmac and hitting the parked Air India ATR as a result. Luckily, there wasn't too many planes moving around like during the daytime/evening (Jet Airways' red eye bank was about to start). The driver was not injured, but the bus was totaled, and VT-ABO never flew....
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