A simple toss up between an A/C First Class train ticket for four or a low cost airline flight. That’s what the Mumbai trip was based on. As it happened, none of the trains had enough First Class tickets for four, so it was down to flights. A combination of SpiceJet and IndiGo worked out best for us. As you might’ve read already, the SpiceJet flight was quite eventful. After 16 days in Mumbai, it times to head back to Kolkata real quick.
6E325 Mumbai to Kolkata dep: 2010 hours, arr: 2240 hours 06th June 2016, Airbus A320 (this one!)
VIDEO TRIP REPORT
Here it is! :)
But before that, I have some images to share from Mumbai. I spent a good part of four years in this megacity. Trains, vada pav, malls, you name it: it was a great 16 days I spent!
Bonus : Click here displayhide
Clearly the dogs are king around here!
Did I mention how much I missed Indian food?
Our apartment complex
All hail the dog king!
High Street Phoenix - spent a good chunk of my time here
This helicopter was doing the rounds around the race course
The local train system is pretty impressive in and around Mumbai
There was a Chemical Plant Explosion very close to where we were. Read more about it here.
The Monaco GP on the big screen!
WAG-9, India's most powerful locomotive
Went planespotting with TG!
A gift from 2007 :)
Dobby Jr. :)
Old first class on the trains!
Traffic was a recurring theme
Double Decker train
One last breakfast :)
Like SpiceJet, IndiGo allows online check in for flights 48 hours prior to the flight itself. However, there were costs for everything. While on SpiceJet there was free selection of seats after the front half of the plane, on IndiGo it was only the last two rows. I convinced my Dad for us to sit in the front, and so, I bought two window seats in the front, and two middle seats which were for free. Seats 5A/5B and 6A/6B I didn’t get the much loved SEQ1 but I couldn’t be bothered lol. This was going to be my first IndiGo flight in just under four years, and about eighty flights have happened in between! I also found it pretty cool that the PNR had ‘F15’ in it :D
IndiGo plane rotations are decided fairly on during the day, and an aircraft is assigned. The aircraft flying my flight would be VT-IDM, a 12.2 year old ex-Tiger Air bird. In fact, it had a stint in the Americas by flying for Volaris. The aircraft follows a New Delhi - Mumbai - New Delhi - Patna - New Delhi - Mumbai - Kolkata - Lucknow rotation for the day. Everything was looking pretty well as 6E993, the first flight of the day departed New Delhi on time.
I have always associate Mumbai's Terminal 1C/1B with the activity of Jet Airways. However, it was pretty strange not to see any Jet Airways aircraft in the vicinity when I arrived on SpiceJet. It was equally strange to see only IndiGo, Go Air and SpiceJet flight departures only out of Terminal 1B. Terminal 1A, the terminal that was the busiest of the two when Kingfisher Airlines and Air India used it (also being the arrivals terminal when 1B was being renovated), has no use today, and hence is closed. Shutters down, doors closed, it was quite strange to see (again, yeah :P ) My family and I reached Terminal 1B at 1728 hours, well in time for the 2010 departure time.
CHECK IN - KIOSK AND AIRPORT
Since we did do a web check in, there only were the many bags to be dropped off. However, since we did not have print outs of the boarding pass, we were directed to get a them from one of many kiosks. All I wanted was a proper boarding pass, but I guess IndiGo won't give them to those who paid the penalty of an online check in, and those who actually bought seats. Anyway. My first kiosk check in was no where close to auspicious because the kiosks were running on Windows XP…and the check in process happened on Microsoft's Lovely Internet Explorer. Took me a while to get the kiosk working and printing the boarding passes.
Baggage drop took a while because of the number of bags we had. That said, the person handling it was quite courteous and helpful. While he did his thing, I saw the Jet Airways advertisements right behind the check in counters, which has kinda hilarious :P The agent guided us to our gate (A1, terminal 1C!) and wished us a great flight. Well, web check in, kiosk check in and a regular check in. Interesting.
Security was next, and this was pretty unique. For a change in Mumbai, it was empty!! This made security surprisingly relaxing, as we took our time. The body scanning itself was nice, as the security person was someone in a good mood and greeted me. Something that rarely happens in Indian security check points. The nice chap also asked me what my shirt meant (really was an abstract of a skeleton going surfing). Converting it to Hindi was really tricky as I said some kind of bullsh*t. Thanks, Quiksilver. He wished me a great flight as I headed to pick my carry on up. Oh, did I say this was a ladies security check booth, with the curtains and all? That’s probably never going to happen ever again…and that just shows how empty security was! My bag was pulled out because of a suspected coin pouch. True enough, there was a coin pouch full of Indian rupees, Sri Lankan rupees, Euros, American Dollars, Canadian Dollars….not sure what he gathered from looking at that, but either way, I was let go.
We found a cozy spot to…spot. This was the Ultra Bar. We ordered a few drinks, my brother and I managed to down two beers over the course of our wait. The joy of miracles - my father met an ex-collogue after many many years!!! He was on the IndiGo flight to Kochi. Some of the highlights of spotting included VT-INR (Airbus A320 of IndiGo, my first IndiGo plane),
VT-SZL (the B73J that brought us into Mumbai….the one that was delayed by a good 7.5 hours!!), and last but not least, the mighty Airbus A380-800 operated by Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi! Some other bits of spotting first:
I would be flying EY's A380-800 from JFK to Mumbai in a few days. Stay tuned for the flight report on that in a …. year from now
A check on VT-IDM: she landed in Delhi from Patna as 6E191 on time, however the New Delhi - Mumbai segment of the flight got delayed by a good 47 minutes, and would land about 25 minutes late from New Delhi.
Following the A380’s arrival, we headed towards the gate. It was 1855 hours, about half an hour to go for boarding. However, I knew boarding would not start at 1925 hours because the plane itself would be delayed by a bit. Despite being a small delay, the word ‘delay’ has a new definition amongst us in the family, and rightfully so! SpiceJet has ruined it for us LOL. Gate area
It wasn’t until 1927 hours, two minutes after our boarding time, did the old A320 show up. With announcements being a thing of the past in Mumbai Airport (its a ‘silent’ airport now), boarding began at 1938 hours, about thirteen minutes late. This was for passengers seated in the rear half of the plane. Judging by the number of passengers around, I was expecting a pretty empty flight. We joined the line at 1945 hours.
Boarding was going on at a pretty decent pace, the efficient ladies at the desk were doing a fine job. They’d take the boarding pass, do their scan thing, tear off the stub and say ‘Thank you Mr. XYZ’ or ‘Have a nice flight Ms. ABC’, etc.
It was my turn to board. As she took my boarding pass, I enquired ‘How full is the flight tonight?’ ‘Please give me a moment, sir.’ After a bit of typing she said ‘There are 106 passengers on this flight tonight.’ Surprised at the very low loads of this peak hour metro to metro flight, I thanked her for the information to which she said ‘You are most welcome Mr. CollegeAviator, have an enjoyable flight.’
A few seconds later, she calls me again. ‘Sir, please excuse me sir! Your carry on seems to be very big and heavy. We do understand your inconvenience in not having your carry on with you, but we have to check it in the aircraft’s baggage hold’. With a smile on my face, I said ‘Sure!! Go right ahead, take this bag from me!’ Both the agents were surprised by my relative easiness to be convinced! To be fair, it was a pretty heavy bag, and I was glad to be getting rid of it. The plan was to send it as checked luggage anyway, but hey this is basically a free bit of luggage! They requested me to stand around for a bit behind the computer screen. That’s where I saw, 106 passengers had been booked on the flight, 105 had checked in and just the one no-show. With a seating capacity of 180 on the Airbus A320, I was surprised by barely 58% loads on a peak hour metro to metro flight! But hey, I was looking forward to an empty, chilled out flight.
With the bag given away, and comprehensive instructions to pick it up at the baggage claim belts, I joined the line of many passengers to board the aircraft. It was 1950 hours. I waited a good four or five minutes before finally boarding the aircraft.
I saw the cabin crew members were doing whatever they had to do quite frantically! They were restless. Just when I boarded did a rather hurried ‘Hello, welcome to IndiGo!’ pop up. It was 1955 hours.
I took my seat 06A which had an awesome view of the IAEV2527-A5 engine on this 12.2 year old bird. My family interviewed me as to what happened to the bag, I explained the USA like situation that happened (where gate agents usually take the bigger sized luggage for free). Just two minutes later, at 1958 hours, boarding was complete, an announcement was made.
Our Captain in this flight (unfortunately, I did not get her name) gave a pretty hurried announcement about the flight. We’d fly to Kolkata in under 2hr20min at an altitude of 36000 feet, but there would be some delay departing out of Mumbai due to congestion. Things fell silent all of a sudden and nothing much was going on.
The pursuer (or as IndiGo call them - the Leading Lady) Esther also gave a very hurried announcement, introducing the rest of the crew. Esther and Nisha were serving the front half of the plane, they both were from Darjeeling. The other two flight attendants were from Mumbai and New Delhi. Six different languages were spoken amongst them, including English, Hindi, Marathi, Punjabi and Nepali. This announcement however, was interrupted by the malfunctioning passenger announcement phone…. Owing to the delay, many passengers were asked for water, so a quick water run was done by Nisha, and she had a smile on her face. Being the empty flight it was, most passengers were seated in the front, but most of them headed for the rows behind as they were completely empty, my father being one of them.
DEPARTURE - PUSHBACK, TAXIING AND TAKE OFF At 2018 hours, 8 minutes after departure time we pushed back and one of the two IAE V2527-A5 engines were fired up. We slowly started taxiing past the very empty Terminal 1B bays - with Jet and Air India moving to terminal 2, and most of the LCCs using the jetbridges at T1C, the only aircraft you see are the odd turboprops (Air India Regional ATR 72-600, SpiceJet Bombardier Q400), and the IndiGo A320s that could not get a contact gate. The second IAE V2527-A5 engines was fired as taxiing sped up. Past the lovely Terminal 2: ANA B787-8 preparing for its flight to Tokyo-Narita, El Al B767-200ER, Saudia B777-200ER, the Etihad A380 and the usual Jet Airways and Air India Boeing 777s and 787s respectively.
Taxiing all of a sudden became much quicker for the simple reason being that we were number 1 for departure and there was no aircraft landing! Given that this was during the peak hours, the lack of traffic surprised me. We taxied on to runway 27 and thundered down to take off towards a westerly direction at 2028 hours. The IAE V2527-A5 engines made some fantastic sounds as we reached our cruising altitude.
Epic take off, and Busy highways!
Seatbelt signs were switched off as soon as we reached 10000 feet, but it came back on because of turbulence in the vicinity.
The crew quickly sprung in to action, first filling up the water containers, getting the food on to the carts, etc. IndiGo do not have ovens onboard their aircraft. There is a pretty strange looking 'hole in wall' in the place the ovens are supposed to be. IndiGo do not serve hot food (unless of course, they use water to warm it up), since most of their foods are kept at the cabin's temperature only. The lack of ovens save weight, therefore saving fuel and so profits are made. Cabin, and new slimline seats - no IFE, obviously :)
Service started at 2041 hours. They were initially a bit slow in commencing service, but once they got going, they got going very quickly. Nisha dragged the cart all the way to where Dad was seated - yep, she remembered Dad changing his seat, after looking at the manifest.
My brother and I were served at 2047 hours. 'Hello Mr CollegeAviator, welcome to IndiGo. My name is Nisha and I will be serving you tonight. You have a non vegetarian meal and you have a choice of beverage with that.' With so much information being thrown at me, I asked her 'what are the choices you have tonight?' She said 'we have a chicken sandwich and chicken noodles, and a hot beverage or Aamras (mango juice).' With the limited options I had, I went for the chicken sandwich, and the mango juice. My brother went for the chicken noodles, and mum went for the vegetarian wrap. The sandwich was nothing close to remarkable. My meal - chicken sandwich, mango juice
Brother's meal - instant chicken noodles and mango juice
Cool packaging to an otherwise boring sandwich…
Mum's cottage cheese (paneer) wrap
All in all, for the price one pays for a SpiceJet hot meal, this IndiGo combo is certainly quite a rip off.
Lights were dimmed for the remainder of the flight. The seatbelt signs kept going on and off due to the turbulence in the vicinity. However, for a good 10-15 minutes of the flight there was some pretty insane thunderstorm activity going around which was pretty fun to see at night! Large cumulonimbus clouds had some large lighting bolts go through them - what an epic sight! Nothing much was going on in the flight itself, everyone was mostly asleep, I was drifting in and out of sleep.
The real reason front cameras were invented. Selfie what?
Seat pocket content
IndiGo's magazine show the robust growth, buy-on-board items, and a cool speed comparison chart -
Some images I tried getting during the thunderstorm, better represented in the video trip report :)
The first officer and captain visited the lavatory one after the other, a flight attendant was inside the cockpit to make sure everything was okay. 2214 hours the crew members went through the cabin with merchandise sales, but not many people bought anything from there.
DESCENT AND ARRIVAL
Seven minutes later (2221 hours), Nisha and Esther conducted another drinks service before arrival - just water this time. The Captain briefed us about our arrival into Kolkata and descent started not too long after.
This flight like one of the longer BOM-CCU (or CCU-BOM) flights, but it was coming to and end. We slowly descended towards Kolkata. A smooth touch down was made at 2242 hours on runway 19L, 8 minutes before time.
It was scary enough for my brother as it woke him from his siesta :P We taxied towards gate 20 for parking. There were two other planes that had already reached Kolkata before us from Mumbai: the infamous VT-SZL that had operated SpiceJet flight SG487, and VT-SCA the first Airbus A319 in Air India's fleet (although in the interim Indian livery) that came is AI773.
We docked, everyone stood up, but the crew made sure they were made to sit back down until the engines were cut out.
The lightly loaded plane got empty very quickly and we headed for belt number 1, as was announced. A true testament to IndiGo's efficiency - we got all of our luggage within 17 minutes of touching down!
Kolkata airport arrivals were pretty empty at that point, too. However, this was the quickest I had left Kolkata Airport - the previous 5 times took me over 45 minutes! Reached home and couldn't quite fall asleep - it was only at 2am when I finally hit the sack!
Mumbai - BOM
Kolkata - CCU
2012 was the last time I flew onboard IndiGo prior to this flight. About eighty flights happened in between. A lot has changed onboard IndiGo. One of them being the implementation of slimline seats which to be honest, weren't too bad! Add to that, a drastically downscaled buy on board menu, flights any way do not have much of the listed items. The kiosk check in was quite an adventure, but the baggage drop was handled well. The same can be said about the friendly gate staff, and the crew who went about their job. We reached the destination a few minutes before time which was nice, and checked luggage was delivered fairly quickly!
Mumbai Airport's T1B is dominated by low cost carriers today. Despite my flight time being during a peak hour, it wasn't too bad or crowded.
Kolkata Airport was surprisingly empty and for once waiting for luggage did not feel like an eternity (mind you - the previous times I arrived here I was all alone. This time I was with my family, so more checked baggage to wait for.. Of course, low loads do play a part!)
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