Review of Mihin Lanka flight Colombo Kolkata in Economy

Airline Mihin Lanka
Flight MJ331
Class Economy
Seat 23A
Aircraft Airbus A320
Flight time 20:55
Take-off 28 Dec 15, 09:40
Arrival at 29 Dec 15, 06:35
MJ 2 reviews
jish.b
By SILVER 828
Published on 1st October 2016
Three days back home was never going to be enough. I missed quite a few people, but at the same time, I did meet a lot of people which was a happy thought, and a nice note to end the trip on.
The trip so far…this would be my final flight of 2015!
DL3849DL4695 FAR-MSP 19DEC15 1310hrs1319hrs 1421hrs1427hrs CRJ700CRJ200 N426SW
DL1717 MSP-ORD 19DEC15 1510hrs 1637hrs MD90 N912DN
KL612 ORD-AMS 20DEC15 1630hrs 0715+1hrs B74E PH-BFE
KL871 AMS-DEL 21DEC15 1245hrs 0100hrs+1 B744 PH-BFL
AI401 DEL-CCU 22DEC15 0700hrs 0905hrs B788 (VT-ANQ)
MJ331 CMB-CCU 28DEC15 0705hrs 1000hrs 0640hrs 0940hrs A320
MJ331 CMB-CCU 28DEC15 0705hrs 1000hrs 0635hrs 0930hrs A320 (this one!!)

AI676 CCU-BOM 07JAN16 0600hrs 0850hrs A319
9W7146495 08JAN16 2140hrs 2315hrs B73H
AF191 BLR-CDG 09JAN16 0245hrs 0845hrs B77E
AF3602 (DL123) CDG-ORD 09JAN16 1230hrs 1518hrs B76W
DL2223 ORD-MSP 10JAN16 1505hrs 1638hrs B752
DL1956 MSP-FAR 10JAN16 2027hrs 2133hrs A320

You can find the video version of this report here:


I did an online check in and I was automatically assigned seat 14C. My heart stopped a little. Automatically assigned an aisle seat? Oh no! I was going to settle for any window seat. And then there were many…..the rear half of the plane was virtually empty! I settled for seat 23A, and hoped for the seats next to me to be empty.
As you can see, I was awake pretty early!



The morning began quite early. 0300 hours. Groggy eyes. Big cockroach in the bathroom. A five minute war ended with me ending victorious (else this TR wouldn’t have been written :)) Took a trusted cab and flew through Colombo city. Seeing it in the dark was kinda strange..but a great feeling. I remembered all the all-nighters I pulled (which was basically the first half of 2015…). The drive on the highway was fun…if only I was able to drive it, that would’ve been fun!

This was my last flight of 2015. It has been a very impressive year for me in terms of flying, that started way back in January with 9W255 from Colombo to Mumbai... 2015 started with a departure out of Colombo, and it ended the same way…what a coincidence!!


Exchanged some cash, and headed for the Mihin Lanka counters. This is in the threshold between SriLankan Airlines counters on the right and other airline counters at the left. Kuwait Airways, Air Arabia, FlyDubai and Jet Airways counters had long lines…


Immigration took quite some time too, there were long lines. And there were many Indian passports! A full flight to Mumbai, my flight to Kolkata and the early risers for the flights to Chennai, Trivandrum and Cochin were present (the former being an A330). My flight would depart from Gate B2. Just like my previous departure out of Colombo, a remote parking bay. Oh yes! However, what got me excited was 9W255 to Mumbai departing from Gate B11. Right in front of the Palm Strips restaurant. Guess who was headed for morning spotting! :D


As always, the high flyer sandwich!!
photo img_7055

First, the not SriLankan Airlines planes: Jet Airways VT-JGT to Mumbai as 9W255, Etihad Airways A320 to Abu Dhabi and Air Arabia A320 to Sharjah
photo dsc_8136photo dsc_8140

4R-ALL, SriLankan Airlines' first A330-300, resting after flight UL554 from Frankfurt, Germany before flying to Riyadh as UL265 later in the day


4R-ALD coming in from Dubai as UL226 and will later fly to Bangkok and Hong Kong as UL890
photo dsc_8153

4R-ABO to Cochin, India as UL165
photo dsc_8155

4R-ABQ, Airbus A321 that came in from Abu Dhabi and would fly to New Delhi later in the day


4R-MRD, one of Mihin’’s two Airbus A321s was parked in a remote bay. She was being prepared for a flight. I hoped, and kept hoping for she taking me back to Kolkata. 0602 hours, pushback commenced for VT-JGT to Mumbai operating to Mumbai. The sun was starting to rise as the dark blue skies went well with the VT-JGT’s vertical stabilizer. It was a wonderful sight. I realized my flight was departing in just about half an hour. The boarding pass said boarding closes twenty five before departure. I knew that for once, I was cutting it way too close.

I rushed back down to gate B2. I was shown the way to enter the security check, but I got caught up with many pilgrims who were on the flight to Jakarta. I was in a fix. At least, I was in security and I knew that if required, the SriLankan Airlines staff would call out all Kolkata bound passengers to ensure the flight left on time, but I also knew that I was late. And so that's exactly what happened. A gentleman called out all Kolkata bound passengers (which turned out to be me only :P ), and expedited my security procedures. The A4 sheet pinned up to the board read: UL331 Kolkata B2 with an arrow pointing straight. MJ331 or UL331? Come on guys, decide :P
photo img_7056

As I got to the gate, the lady said to me - 'sir, too late no?' in a very Sri Lankan way…and that was lovely to hear to be honest! I smiled and apologized. She still let me wait in the boarding area as there were two more passengers missing. I was now named 'Twenty Three Alpha' because of my seat number. Two more passengers showed up.


A bus was waiting for the three of us passengers. We were taken towards the bus…and for a while it looked like we’d actually be on 4R-MRD, one of the A321s! But that was not to last… We soon took a sharp u-turn and headed for the other side of the tarmac. It started raining. The rest of the Mihin fleet were there, 4R-MRC (A321 to Jakarta), 4R-MRE (A320) and 4R-MRF (A319 to Lahore). Unsurprisingly, we stopped by a 4R-MRE. Again. Well damn it! :(


It started pouring. I received a warm welcome as I boarded. Making my way towards the rear of the cabin, an announcement was made: passenger boarding complete. How about that! I was the last one to board the plane! I took my seat 23A. I noticed that the plane wasn’t very full… The couple beside me found a seat towards the end of the plane, so yay, finally all three seats empty for me! The pursor leading the team was Chatura Fernando. He along with five other crew members were in charge of the cabin. Captain Rakhita Wijeratne came over the PA to give us some information of the flight. 'Ayubowan, Vanakkam, Asalamalikum', was the greeting. Nice! Our 2hr35min flight to Kolkata would be through largely clear weather at an altitude of 35000 feet. The safety demonstration was done as pushback commended. 0637 hours. More or less on time!


Taxiing to Runway 22 was a bit long because it was a full length departure. The sun broke through the clouds of the passing shower as we lined up and took off from Runway 22, setting a North East bound course for Kolkata. Some minor turbulence occurred as we flew out of the cloud layer into the bright morning skies over Sri Lanka. Sadly, I couldn't see much of the lovely island during climb out, but it was a great end to the trip.



Announcements were made. First the usual keep your seat belts fastened while asleep etc etc etc.. And also that food and snacks could be purchased… Um what? No food on the flight? Turns out, these were any extra snacks that could be purchased in addition to the regular breakfast service. This started out with two beer cans (Heineken I think..) that passengers ordered, and the regular meal service soon after. Two trolleys were involved, one that went straight up the aisle to the first rows of Economy, followed by another trolley starting off from the rear itself. Since it was a lightly loaded flight, this was pretty easy for the crew, not much of a hassle. I was handed a tray with a hot main course. I asked the flight attendant - is this non vegetarian? She replied in the affirmative. The tray had fresh fruit, but strangely without any cover.. Bread with pretty hard butter, mixed fruit juice (Smak - a personal favorite!) and the main course. There was a small chicken sausage, scrambled eggs and potatoes. While small, the main course was lovely to taste. Another great meal from Mihin, and yet another positive surprise!


After the meal service, I took advantage of the three empty seats and walked down the aisle to the washroom. Christmas decorations were still around which was a nice touch! The washroom um well…there was stuff of a specific color stains on the seat. Before grossing you out more, I will talk about the hand wash soap which was of SriLankan Airlines. Reasons why they should merge, another one right there.


As I came back, duty free sales were on. A flight attendant came and asked me if I had change for $100, which I did. Nope, not everyone was asked, so it made me wonder why I was asked :) Anyway. Service trackers were being handed out to some passengers only… Finished watching Iron Maiden’s Flight 666 movie/documentary while I kept peeping out. One could see the coast lining up just under us, or moving back. It was a great sight. Once the coast disappeared completely and the sea disappearing, it only meant one thing: it was close to arrival time!


Mihin Lanka's network (in blue), served by the A320 family
photo img_7103

Ahasa - Mihin Lanka's magazine
photo img_7104

4R-MRE's safety card…again!
photo img_7105

And spot on! Capt. Wijeratne’s First Officer advised us arrival information into Kolkata. He said it would be a cold 15C out. 15C. Cold. Heh. :) Soon, 4R-MRE’s nose dipped and we descended into a very hazy Kolkata. Just the one turn, which surprised me, and we were on our final approach. Nope, I couldn’t see my residential complex this time around. I just about saw the E.M. Bypass and the flyover to Rajarhat. We were closing in on to a runway 01R arrival.


Prior to the very smooth touchdown, I noticed the damaged ATR42, Air India’s Star Alliance 787 VT-ANU, and to my surprise (but not for the first time in CCU), a Volga Dnepr Antonov 124 in the cargo (I think?) bay! 0914 hours and I was in Kolkata, an on time flight. We docked at Gate 14.

photo dsc_8224photo dsc_8226

Legroom was pretty okay
photo img_7121photo img_7122

Goodbye, 4R-MRE!
photo img_7125

The *A Boeing 787
photo img_7126

Immigration was quite confusing. Some said we needed to have our boarding passes out and some wanted the ticket. Unfortunately for me, I got one of the people who wanted to see the ticket of all things….how does that matter to them? The boarding pass made more sense hmm. Anyway.


The calm before the storm… A whole load of passengers would follow us from the Emirates flight, we avoided the crowds!!
photo img_7136

Baggage…took a while. It took exactly 43 minutes from docking to the first bag arriving. So, it gave me enough time to head to the restroom, see A6-EMI arrive (again!), go to the FOREX to find out how screwed I was (because I only had Rs. 300 in my wallet, while it was Rs. 350 for a taxi. Dang it), until bags arrived. And when they did arrive, mine took quite some time. And heartbreak, as I found out my Mihin Lanka fragile stickers were wonderfully torn off.


At the pre-paid taxi line, knowing how screwed I was, I tried reaching a settlement of paying the taxi driver later, but the computer wouldn’t allow it :( The nice man, however, told me to go to the departures level and see if I could get a taxi from there. Made sense, since many people would require a taxi to get to the airport. Found one, and took me 1.5 hours to go home. 1.5 hours of loud and dusty traffic. Honk honk honk. By the time I reached home, 4R-MRE was nearly half way there on its return flight to Colombo. THAT’s how long it took. Taxi man didn’t agree with the fare on the meter, when it clearly said pay what the meter says.

I didn’t bother, I just paid him whatever (Rs. 450 was the fare…he asked for 500..yep, I got ripped off majorly). As I found out Dobby would not be home for another couple of days, I got even sadder. Right from the start at the baggage security line in Kolkata to the end of the trip when I found out Dobby wasn’t home, it was an uneasy feel. What didn’t feel uneasy and quite relaxing was in fact, the flights itself. A great job by Mihin Lanka, an airline truly full of surprises, mostly great ones in my case!

What a remarkable year 2015 was. Starting off with a fantastic flight on the 'new' Jet out of Colombo, to the Mihin one here, also out of Colombo. In between, there were 5 different new airlines, the longest flight at nearly 16 hours, my first (and second) chopper rides, and probably some of the best memories created, on the KLM 747s. With that, its the end of my 2015 trip reports, all of it coming in quite late, the fourth quarter of 2016! :P
photo untitled folder 22
Stay tuned for more!

I'm sharing some pictures from my quick Colombo trip, in the bonus section here:

See more

Verdict

Mihin Lanka

7.0/10
Cabin6.0
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment5.0
Buy on board9.0

Colombo - CMB

9.3/10
Efficiency8.5
Access9.5
Services10.0
Cleanliness9.0

Kolkata - CCU

5.6/10
Efficiency3.0
Access8.0
Services4.0
Cleanliness7.5

Conclusion

Once again a fairly decent flight with Mihin Lanka. Unlike the first one however, it was an uneventful sleepy flight - most passengers were asleep because of the ungodly hours, while also being a fairly empty flight. The food was pretty good again, a standard western breakfast. However, I wonder what the alternate option of the breakfast provided would be. Crew were pretty nice and relaxed, too.
What I cannot forgive is the terrible state of the restroom. But that then could be down to the passengers as well..

Colombo Airport was a joy to go through. Be it back in January 2015 or December 2015 (as I said, my last and first flight in 2015 were out of CMB), while Kolkata's baggage claim continued to disappoint me, sadly.

Related

6 Comments

  • Comment 368886 by
    Thurya 61 Comments

    Hi Jish!

    First of all, nice spotting at dawn... Love those pics with tail fin logos illuminated by tail lights.

    "we lined up and took off from Runway 22"
    - If my calculations are correct, that would be runway 4 when entering the runway from the coast side.

    "The A4 sheet pinned up to the board read: UL331 Kolkata B2 with an arrow pointing straight. MJ331 or UL331? Come on guys, decide :P"
    - Neither!!! From 30th Oct. onward it will be UL187 :P (It's official). You may probably get the honour of publishing the only trips reports of MJ here ;)

    Mihin had an identity crisis since its inception, branding it as a low cost carrier but offering services par with regional full service airlines, even par with UL. IFE is the only missing thing I guess. So it is a wise decision taken to merge it with UL. At least some overheads will decrease to improve the financial situation of the group. They can differentiate the products offered by destination like many other airlines do.

    By the way, your beloved MRE will be retained along with MRD while other 2 aircraft will be returned to the lessor.

    Thanks for the wonderful trip report!
    Cheers!!!

  • Comment 369000 by
    jish.b SILVER AUTHOR 198 Comments

    Thanks for your very detailed reply, Thurya! I truly appreciate it :)

    I do believe you are right, and it is in fact my mistake. We did take off from Runway 04, I always make this mistake!

    Yes, about time UL and MJ merged! This was supposed to happen many years ago, but I guess the previous rulers did not allow this to happen... UL187/UL188! The first step was taken when UL started flights to LHE, taking over from MJ.

    The routes MJ fly on are quite similar to what UL flies to with their A320s. I do believe the older A320s (of UL) have no IFE, which is why at times I have noticed UL A320s operating MJ flights and vice versa! I hope the MJ planes are painted in to UL colors, but that's unlikely given the small fleet size...

    Strange that its MRE and MRD staying. UL187/UL188 is scheduled to be an A319 (MRF) once the changes are effective. It will be interesting to see how it pans out....

    Again, thank you very much for your reply!

    Cheers!
    Jish

  • Comment 369439 by
    Rl 777 809 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this FR with us! Nice with these FRs since they'll be gone pretty soon!

    Interesting with that available space for advertising at CMB.

    I am glad you were able to have three seats for yourself, must have made the journey so much more comfortable.

    Meal looks good for a flight like this one.

    Beautiful pictures throughout the FR, also watched the video which was really nice :).

    Sorry to hear about the experience after arrival, I'm glad you even got your bag though. At DAC you're lucky if your bag even arrives in the first place ;).

    Beautiful bonus pictures, thanks for sharing!

    Have a good one, see you.

    • Comment 369888 by
      jish.b SILVER AUTHOR 198 Comments

      Thanks for your reply, RI 777 buddy! :)

      Three seats is always appreciated...makes up for the lack of premium classes flights that I have had! :P

      Same goes for the meal - always appreciate when its a full meal, and not peanuts and pretzels...

      Come on, I'm sure Dhaka is better than that!!!! Although, I have heard stuff similarly...no bags at Dhaka...

      Thanks for your comment and encouragement!

  • Comment 372507 by
    Succubus21 15 Comments

    Heard that mj will be with drawing flights from ccu and ul will be operating on this route.....do you know if its true....

    But back to this report...awesomely reported , and i think ccu has improved a lot....took a short flight during pujas and tge service was awesome...ai luggage screen was fast, luggage drop was a bit tiresome........ But the washrooms were perfect and cleaned after a few times

    • Comment 372509 by
      jish.b SILVER AUTHOR 198 Comments

      Hey there, thank you for your comment!

      Yes, Mihin Lanka is no more (and this is probably the last flight report of it!) and SriLankan has indeed taken over all Mihin Lanka routes.

      Great to know the airport was efficient during the Puja period! I hope to read a report about this from you :D

Login to post a comment.