My internship was scheduled to end on the 28th of July. Therefore, I decided to take an evening flight on the 30th of July (Saturday). I was sure of my internship start date (which is why I booked the Vistara inaugural :) ), the return date wasn’t confirmed, until I got my letter. My time in Mumbai involved searching for the cheapest flight. It swung between Go Air (a new airline if it happened), IndiGo (they have way too many flights) and Jet Airways, the trusted Jet Airways.
However, by the time I got my internship end date, it was Vistara who offered the cheapest price, comparable to that of the train. This was the evening departure, leaving Delhi at 1755 hours and arriving in Kolkata at 2010 hours. However, due to a Mac user using Windows mix up, the ticket was booked under my father’s name. The yelling I got afterwards was quite unjustified considering he was going to be in Delhi anyway :(
With the correct ticket booked, I set off to New Delhi the very next day. Initially booked seat 14A, however the reconfiguration of Vistara’s fleet meant that I could select a seat close to the engine, 8A. At the end of a fruitful internship, I decided to fly back a day earlier because family time is pretty priceless :) Rebooked to 29th July, on the same flight. The process involves calling up the call center, asking them to request a rebook, then a link is sent to confirm the payment, and then a call back just to confirm the booking.
A drive on the Yamuna Expressway, on the way to the Buddh International Circuit. Too bad F1 isn't there anymore…
Elsa the Beagle - good thing she distracted me from the Formula E Race ;)
Delhi Public Transport - most of which is the Delhi Metro Railway Corporation…
(And if you’re wondering what my internship was about, let some of these be a clue :P )
And of course - food! My father was with me for the last few days of the internship, which meant I could try out some amazing Indian food. Starting off with Bengali cuisine - boneless Hilsa (Ilish maach) in a typical Bengali mustard preparation.
And some more typical Indian food that most of the world is aware of:
The mall quite a few aviation related things going on, from Lufthansa's office to huge ads of Air Asia India
Mobile check in was neat and straightforward through Vistara's app. Well done!
WHICH A320 WOULD IT BE?
VT-TTI was flying a set rotation the week building up to my flight: UK709 Delhi - Bhubaneswar, UK983 Bhubaneswar - Delhi - Mumbai, UK944 Mumbai - Delhi, UK723/UK712 Delhi - Kolkata - Delhi). The same happened on the day I was flying, too. However, the Delhi - Mumbai - Delhi flights were delayed by 30 and 40 minutes respectively due to bad weather both in Delhi and Mumbai. I was not too worried, since there was about 2 hours of ground time between UK944 BOM-DEL and my DEL-CCU flight.
THE DAY OF TRAVEL…
Cab, metro, cab, metro, cab metro, cab… This was the dilemma on the morning of the 29th: I had to make an unplanned visit to the head office to collect something, on a day that observed some of the season’s worst rains. Delhi was flooded, especially the suburb of Gurgaon. Long traffic jams lasting 6/7 hours were part of a work day. One last time, IndiGo terminal!
Thankfully, I scraped out of all of this. Barely. The answer came down to a cab, a journey lasting much longer than I would have liked, however I made it to the airport much earlier than the flight.
I reached IGIA’s impressive T3 at 1454 hours.
Entered straight away.
A Vistara agent greeted me, and guided me to the last counter - I nearly headed for the AirAsia India counters :P Not all that wrong, since they both are TATA airlines ;)
That's the wrong TATA airline! :D
However, I was called back to the correct counter to drop my stuff off. It was interesting to note that staff at New Delhi were still contracted staff, and not Vistara staff as I saw in Kolkata. All lines were not too long, just one or two passengers in line. However, the folks in front of me had to do some rejigging due to textbooks being really heavy (Why do you do this, college :( ) Once it was my turn to check in, I found out my bag was 2.4kgs within the limit. I asked if I could do a quick reshuffle to get rid of the load that I’d carry onboard…this was allowed, however the staff member did not look very happy when I asked…okay.
Security was up next, I was done with check in by 1507 hours. It was quick, to say the least. Domestic security was quite empty as well, however it was very thorough in the light of the attacks that happened at airports during the time. I was airside at 1520 hours.
The strange weather was still around in Delhi, as a layer of fog covered the Airbus A320 family planes, and the lone Air India B777-300ER that arrived from Chicago.
I was quite hungry, which made me make very instantaneous decisions. And so, I opted for the food joint that was the closest to me. A very basic McDonalds lunch it was in the end.
SPOTTING - THE SKYCRANE!
Heading out of the central plaza towards departure gates: to the right are gates 27 to 36 where all Air India flights depart from, while to the left were gates 37 to 62 where Vistara, AirAsia India, Jet Airways and JetKonnect flights departed from. It was going to be gate 39B for me, but I had other plan(e)s on my agenda: spotting!
Heading over to the very end of the domestic concourse, one can find Vistara’s own lounge. They are the first airline in India to have their own lounge. The gates close to this lounge cater to Vistara’s flights, while the Jet Airways flights depart from a bit of a distance away.
Highlights of spotting included the lovely Jet Airways A330-200 VT-JWP from Hong Kong, docking at the domestic pier, before heading to Mumbai as 9W362, a peak hour flight. There was also a very RARE Sikorsky S-64 SkyCrane parked, one of two that had arrived in to Delhi in the days prior to the flight. Let the pictures (and captions :) ) do the talking.
Air One Aviation VT-AOP, VIP configuration ERJ-190.
The private full service carriers
VT-ATB, AirAsia Airbus A320-200SL. Operated flight I5784 from Guwahati, and will head to Goa as I5796.
Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane, operated by Erickson Sky-crane!
Enjoy it while it lasts - the Jet Airways ATR 72-500's days are numbered.
Back in the end of July '16, there was a mysterious Boeing 737-800 that joined Jet's fleet, VT-JTD…
Emirates B777-300ER to Dubai lining up for departure.
Beautiful Jet Airways A330-200 arrives in to New Delhi from Hong Kong, and would head out to Mumbai.
ATR from Chandigarh
The A330 parked at Gate 39A, just by the gate of my flight!
My plane, a 0.9 years old Airbus A320-200/SL
Settled down at my gate, 39 at around 1710 hours. The flight would depart in 45 minutes from then. The crew members boarded the plane at 1714 hours. Boarding was called at 1721 hours through the pre-recorded announcements, eleven minutes late. This was a zone wise boarding process, and for the most part, this was quite well respected by the passengers. The crew members boarded the aircraft a few minutes before.
I made my way to the aircraft at 1727 hours, however, I was so easily distracted by the Jet Airways A330-200 parked beside my A320. I took quite a few pictures of the A330 :P I did notice some paint chipping off of the cockpit of VT-TTI, which was kinda strange to look at…
Boarding gate area
The beautiful A330-200!
…oh, and my plane I guess :P Notice the paint chipping off?
Getting ever so close…
Stepped onboard at 1733 hours, however there was no crew member to welcome us onboard, all of them were busy on their Business Class folk tasks. Ah well. Five of the eight business class seats were full, barely a quarter of the Premium Economy seats were full, while Economy was packed.
I took my seat 8A, the second row of economy class. I had a great view of the A330 from my seat - I also saw this big birdie being pushed back, while the GE CF6 engines firing up, making their characteristic ‘hum’ brought me back memories of my 2010 trip to Hong Kong (again, on the Jet A330!) My window however, was no where close to clean.
Last few images of the A330-200…
The Captain made his very hurried announcement at 1750 hours, sadly I did not understand much of what he said, because it was so hurried. From what I gathered however, our flying time on the day was 1hr55min. He also warned of some turbulence on the way. 1752 hours, the cabin crew was introduced, just the four member team on the flight. However, this was a very unclear and confused announcement, giving indications of a pretty disinterested cabin crew on the flight, sadly.
DEPARTURE - PUSHBACK
We pushed back at 1753 hours, two minutes before departure time. Pulled in front for quite a while before the two IAE V2500 engines were fired up. The cabin felt really warm, however after a while this was all sorted when the air conditioners were turned on.
We taxied to the usual runway 29, and held short for a while: it was the fellow TATA Airline, an AirAsia India A320 that we were waiting for. Lined up on to Runway 29, and started our take off roll at 1812 hours. Good bye Delhi, for another nineteen days!
The cabin crew members came and closed off the premium economy section. Announcements were made that the snack service would begin shortly - well, carts had been rolled up the aisles anyway! The smells of the meals had filled through the cabin as I kept looking out of the window. It was 1823 hours, just eighteen minutes after take off! I went for my usual non vegetarian meal. Curtains dividing up the economy and premium economy sections
As has been with Vistara, the meal was awesome. A dahi vada for appetizers (wheat fritter loaded with spices and curd as topping), keema pav (warmed up bread with minced mutton curry), and a lovely dessert souffle to finish it off. The tea service followed, a warm cup of tea for me to finish off the meal.
A word on the crew - if Vistara is proud of their service, a positive crew attitude counts. I did not see this on this flight (and neither did I see that on my first flight with them). They barely had a smile on their faces, they were increasingly robotic during service, and whenever they interacted with the passengers, it never felt like they were happy to serve us. One instance I remember when after service the cabin crew member straight up asked ’Sir, please box..’ when clearing up service items. That wasn’t very nice I felt. Just an observation.
Anyway, I was just relieved to be heading home to Kolkata. Bulk of my summer was in New Delhi interning with IndiGo, while also meeting friends, catching up with family members, and sadly dealing with some real jackasses (animals?) at the apartment rental. I was looking forward to three weeks of calming down. This began with the thunderstorm that was developing just outside as the sun set. I did not have the correct camera (or patience) to take one of those epic thunderstorm pictures, but hey the burst mode kind of helped…
Lights were turned off for about 5 or 7 minutes before the crew made an announcement - special bookmarks would be handed out to celebrate J.R.D Tata’s 112th birthday. Widely regarded as the Pioneer of Indian Aviation, he founded Air India and the major Tata company (who also happen to be the founder of Vistara, along with Singapore Airlines). What an apt day to fly with Vistara. I requested for two bookmarks, however the lovely crew member finally had a smile on her face and handed out three to me.
DESCENT AND ARRIVAL
And there it was.. The sun disappeared as I saw a plane blast by….it was Jet Airways flight 9W903 to New Delhi (New Delhi - Kolkata is the 4th busiest route in India!). Descent began at 1935 hours. The cabin crew made their preparations. Captain’s announcement? Very quick. What did I gather from it? Not much.
We lined up with Runway 19L and touched down for a slightly hard landing at 2006 hours, four minutes before time. Some of the usual international activity around: Etihad Airways A320, Biman Bangladesh B737-800, and the daddy of them all: Emirates B777-300ER.
We docked at Gate 21, I waited for the doors to open. I was home! (For the third time in the summer :P) A last hurried announcement was made: our bags would show up at belt number 5. I found my app based taxi, and I was on my way home! Thank you, TTI - until next time, Vistara!
Kolkata airport arrivals
The dog that matters most to me - Dobby! Good boy was found :)
Shrikhand vs cheese spread… An unfortunate nightmare that came true. Shrikhand is a Maharashtrian milk based dessert, made out of strained yogurt. Cheese spread on the other hand, is pretty self explanatory. That night, I was up till quite late, and my parents had gone to bed. I raided the fridge, and I found these - Amul is known for their rather colorful packaging. Guess who got confused and spat out a mouth load of cheese spread at 1am in the morning…..
New Delhi - DEL
Kolkata - CCU
This was going to be a crucial flight for me to decide where Vistara would line up in terms of the other full service carriers in Indian skies. The first flight was a one off terrible one, the second one was amazingly awesome - because it was the inaugural. This flight fitted in between the two of them really well, and gives the impression that Vistara is most certainly up there with the top airlines in India. The crew were quite lacking, which happened for the second time onboard Vistara.
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On board the cabin looks nice and clean , the meal seems to be excellent and is awesome for the duration of the flight. Too bad that Flight attendants do not want to be there or lack experience in customer service. It makes the difference between a good and a bad airline.
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