Let me start off this thread by discussing Jet Airways' widebody usage on domestic flights. Ever since they got back their B777-300ERs from Etihad, they used these to upguage the regular Europe/ Hong Kong/ Singapore A330s to the B777s. This obviously freed up some of these A330s which meant Jet had the perfect tool to cope with external pressures such as better service (Vistara) and a competitive hard product (Air India's widebodies). Jet then scheduled some A330 flights between India's metros (Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Kolkata) from their home base in Mumbai. This was in addition to some gulf flights being upguaged as well (Jet's answer to Saudia's B777s and Air India's B777/B747 was a B737-900ER!)
I haven't been on a Jet widebody in years - June 2010 when I flew to and from Hong Kong on VT-JWJ (A330-200 now with Air Serbia) remains the only Jet widebody I've been on. The deployment of A330s domestic routes gave me by far the best opportunity to have another flight on these beautiful birdies.
So then, with the Etihad itinerary based around in Mumbai and home being Kolkata, the logical thing to do was to search for flights from Mumbai to Kolkata. And by flights, I meant it literally: BOM-CCU was simply not going to cut it, so I thought bigger. BOM-DEL-CCU. This lined up perfectly! 9W346 BOM DEL 0730 0930 A332 AI20 DEL CCU 1420 1630 B788 For the return, I decided to keep it simple - get on an IndiGo flight that would be an A320neo, my first time on the troubled narrowbody: 6E596 CCU BOM 1700 2000 A20N Good thing none of these were booked because…..
…..a trip to Bengaluru was suggested by my mother over our WhatsApp group. She also suggested taking the train, the Udyan Express from Mumbai CST to Bengaluru City Central. This would take 24 hours, or roughly 3.33% of my trip home over the summer. I decided to give this a miss, and the wait for my Indian Railways long distance train ride was pushed back even further.
Along with the time factor, there was also the fact that flight tickets were on par with the train - in fact, Jet Airways was one of the cheapest! The hunt for the A330 was alive, albeit a much lower chance now. With all those Jet Airways flights during the day, it really was up to my Mum to find a suitable flight departure.
UNLUCKY 10: NO A330 THIS TIME….
0850, 1015. These were the two flights that we narrowed down to. The 0850 being 9W397, the daily A330 service. The 1015 being 9W7178, a continuation of the Indore-Bangalore via Mumbai service. This would be on a JetKonnect B737-700. The latter (unfortunately) worked out better for us - gave us time to head to the airport from Dombivali, and had some award redemption seats. This was booked: 9W7178/S24056 BOM BLR 24MAY17 B73G
DOMESTIC WIDEBODIES….ANY MORE?!
But hang on! That’s not where the fun and games end. I was still planning on big things out of Mumbai, and boy was this going to be exciting. Some of you may remember that I flew on Air India’s Boeing 747-400 from Hyderabad to Mumbai (although it hasn’t been published here, yet). I really wanted to log in another B747 flight for 2017. Seeing as I flew on a B747 every year since 2014 (BR B74E, 2015 was AI/KL B744 and 2016 was the LH B748).
With that, I also figured that Air India flew the B747 to Hyderabad (and onwards to Jeddah) on Sunday, Tuesday and Friday. May 24 being a Wednesday, I tried looking for a same day trip. However, another idea struck me - how about flying to New Delhi from Hyderabad on Air India’s B777-300ER?! AI127 is the daily Hyderabad - New Delhi - Chicago service, helping me try out the B77W, the first Indian B777 I’d be on.
And finally - the stars aligned perfectly. How do I get to Mumbai, I hear you ask? Another non-daily flight happened to be operating on Wednesday, and that would be AI348 - this being a Dream)liner service from Shanghai to Mumbai via New Delhi. Air India’s lovely manage my booking would allow me to do this! And that an amazing fare: $102 for three flights on wide bodies, with 25kgs (53lbs) of luggage, meals and miles. How about that?!
I roped in TG in to this - he booked on the same B747 flight and would return the same day on a JetKonnect flight. But then….
UNLUCKY 11: WHY DID I BOTHER WITH THE WIDEBODIES…
…work happened for TG. He would not be able to make it. IN addition to AI348’s constant delays out of Shanghai, this would lead to a delayed flight in to Mumbai and cutting it close to the departure time on S24056 to Bengaluru. Oh well. I suppose I was happy to take it easy before heading in to Bengaluru the next morning.
Mumbai itself was fun, as always. While I am not from there, I was born there, and spent some of my significant parts of life at the vibrant city. Familiar sights, everywhere. It was great to soak up the heat and humidity at this time of year. Not something the average Mumbaikar would say, but take it from someone who lives in the tundra…
UNLUCKY 12: THE 737-700 IS RARE IN INDIA? WELL, NOT FOR YOU THEN!
Online check in for this flight showed that it would in fact be a bog-standard B737-800 of JetKonnect. A flight that usually is operated on one of just 7 B737-700s in India, just happened to be operated by the larger B73H on this day. Another unlucky situation for yours truly!
Anyway, S24056 has a pretty set rotation: BOM IDR S24395 0625 0745 IDR BOM S24056 0820 0935 BOM BLR S24056 1025 1205 BLR BOM S24165 1245 1430 BOM NAG S24165 1530 1650 NAG BOM S24166 1725 1850 And, seeing as VT-JGJ was doing the rounds in and around BOM the days leading to the flight, there wasn’t a big surprise coming my way - except for the joys of a new registration.
Being in the more suburban areas of Mumbai (Dombivali), we were a little apprehensive of getting an app-based ride share cab. PreBooking one worked out to be just fine, a 45 minute drive to the airport. One of the planes that did land happened to be…. VT-ANH. AI348 from Shanghai/New Delhi. The plane I was supposed to be on, but I thought better of it. Hindsight, what a wonderful thing - it would’ve worked out just fine. #HakunaMatata, I guess.
TERMINAL 2: BUSTLING BOM
We reached a bustling Terminal 2 of Mumbai just a few minutes before 7am - more than 3.5 hours prior to a domestic flight. You read that right, hindsight shows we would’ve made the A330-200 to Bengaluru easily. Oh dear. Anyway, ID check and stuff took some time since it was pretty crowded - business people in business clothes on their way to business…transactions. (BoJack Horseman, anyone?)
Incidentally, entry gate 5 for Jet Airways leads straight to check in islands K, L and M. Air France and (you guessed it!) KLM use these islands as well, while equity partner Etihad was all the way over at A. Says a little bit, doesn't it?
In line at 0703 hours, we were meddling with the tail end of morning bank departures. While check in took its own time, a quick search rendered VT-JGJ’s status - so far so good, all on time and well.
HECTIC CHECK IN
At the check in itself, it was hectic. No other way around it. The staff however did more than what they were asked by keeping it professional with a positive attitude. Unfortunately, our baggage was overweight by 5.2kgs. Not a dime…er…paisa charged. In fact the person even encouraged us to check in some of our intended cabin baggage. While we politely declined, it got me wondering how this would affect weight & balance of the aircraft, especially since if each passenger had 2.5 kilos of excess uncharged baggage, it counts up to nearly 400 kilos of extra!
Self service check in counter was set up, but it wasn’t being used (yet, ever?)
A quick stop at the restroom before we were bottlenecked in to the security hold, which was downstairs on Level 3. The international concourse would be on Level 4, and arrivals at Level, the very bottom.
Security was a mess in itself, unfortunately. People jumping the line(s), stealing other’s laptop-container things, etc. It took a while to get out of it.
0740 hours we are at the lovely hold area of T2 - food, shops, spas, you name it! Mumbai had it all going on. This also included some of DC’s cars, swanky designs!
Walked around a bit more before we finally settled on Costa Coffee for breakfast.
This also included a decent view of the tarmac! Quite a few Air India wide bodies were around, in addition to the many IndiGo A320s heading from T1B to the runway - I did not bother photographing these planes. Other highlights included an Emirates B777, Etihad A321, Qatar Cargo A330-200F, Lufthansa Cargo MD-11F, three Jet Airways A330s (to Delhi, Chennai and Bengaluru, a flight we could’ve been on, easily…) and a lovely lovely Singapore Airlines Cargo B747-400F. A nice hour of spotting, my Mum didn’t mind! I would recommend checking out the video trip report here.
Boarding pass for the flight - JetKonnect…
Heading back to the southwest pier, there were some Jet Airways B737-800s preparing for international missions. Spot the Air India Express B737 to Doha?
Boarding gates in the NW pier
The main atrium
Heading towards the gate just an hour before departure. This was my first time in the northeast pier, the domestic pier of T2. Trust TG to explain the piers at Mumbai very well: There are three domestic piers at T2 -NE, NW and SE. At the time of this flight, the piers were segregated - the Jet flight would be from the SE pier. NE is the one that had AI departures. NW is on the other side which handled UK. As of now, 9W occasionally uses bays on the NE pier if the truncated SE pier gets congested. NE pier is also an all narrow body pier so AIs domestic WBs park at the SE pier.
While it was all well lit and nicely designed, and quite airy even, the sheer number of passengers around in the gate area almost reminded me of T1B, unfortunately. The good - no longer a long bus ride to get to the plane! There were quite a few Jet Airways B737s around, going in and out. The other half of the pier had Air India Airbuses - A320s, A321s, A319s, A320neo…
On the other side was a lovely Jet Airways B777-300ER all set to head to Singapore as 9W10. Of course, everyone looked as the monstrous GE90s were fired up.
For every narrow body airplane going out was another narrow body coming in - Mumbai was bustling! In the meantime, VT-JGJ pulled in to Gate 49 from Indore as VT-SIZ prepared for its mission to Coimbatore - usually its the B73G (SIZ) heading to Bengaluru and the B73H (JGJ) heading to Coimbatore.
Boarding was called 25 minutes before departure time at 1000 hours. They tried really hard to enforce group wise boarding. Given the crowds and time constrains, this simply didn’t work out.
Imagine the envy when I heard the passenger in front of me got bumped up to Premiere! Ten minutes from getting the boarding pass scanned to actually boarding the plane - that says a lot about how long and unfortunately disorganized boarding was.
VT-JFR beside us was boarding for a flight all the way to Bagdogra.
A nosy JGJ
Crew were around welcoming passengers on board, and just above their heads almost looked like a halo - a halo of JetStream! This plane was equipped with Jet Airways’ innovative WiFi streaming system, and I was excited to try this out. The view from 24F is that of the wing and a yellow winglet. Oh, how I miss seeing Jet’s old livery on the winglets…
Cabin crew welcomed us and also introduced JetScreen to us. I was looking forward to this flight. The Captain also came around to squeeze in a quick announcement - nice! A smooth 1hr30min flight was on the cards, and doors were to be armed. Right on cue, 1025 hours! Captain Dogra was in command, and first officer Nayak.
DEPARTURE - PUSHBACK
Pushed back at 1028 hours - a pretty quick turnaround, and fired up the CFM56-7B24 engines at 1031 hours, all well and pretty much on time.
Slightly long taxi, lot of stop and gos due to the large number of planes ahead of us. Vistara A320 and Alliance Air ATR 72-600 among the LCCs:
Lined up with runway 27 at 1050 hours and took off towards the west just 25 minutes late, and based south/southeast not too much later.
IN FLIGHT - JETSCREEN!
Just three minutes in to the flight, I fired up the WiFi on my phone, and got JetScreen to work. As always, being an avgeek one is obligated to check out the map of the flight.
If they weren’t making me feel bad enough with the A330 taking off in front of my eyes, the system thought we were on an A330. :(
Other than one small glitch, it was a very responsive system, easy to use and plenty of content to view, be it a 1.5 hour hop to BLR, or a 4.5 hop to Saudi Arabia. This included musical hits such as those released by Iron Maiden and Metallica, because Nothing Else Matters. :)
Music selection - Metallica!
Movies included good ones such as The Martian, The Dark Knight, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Point Blank, Maze Runner, X Men First Class.
Winglet shot & the CFM56s whirring away
Thankfully these are no longer the God awful third party ad…
MEAL TIME - A MIDDAY SNACK
Meal service started nice and early, just 9 minutes in to the flight at 1059 hours. Everything seemed to be going pretty quick on this one. As always, a choice of vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals. I did book a non-vegetarian meal but keeping up with Jet’s inconsistencies, this wasn’t taken in to account unfortunately. I was hoping for good, but expecting the worst, as Jet seemed to be on a downward trajectory again with the meal.
A very blank tray contained a bottle of water, the main course snack, tamarind candy and a '5 Star' chocolate bar (which is a horrible excuse for a dessert). Cutlery was plastic, which is not great since Jet had proper silverware just under a year ago. So much had changed, and I was left quite disappointed.
The snack consisted of warm bread rolls (pav) and minced chicken curry (keema). This was actually pretty decent, but quite low in quantity overall.
A quick tea and coffee service followed as I saw more and more heads pop downwards - Jet’s entertainment system seemed to be very popular on this flight.
I spent the rest of this uneventful flight looking out the window and checking out the IFE. The crew seemed to be quite nice and courteous, which is something I have found to be very common on Jet Airways flights. Good on them!
43 minutes in to the flight the first officer came around and informed us of some more details of the flight - cruising at 37000 feet (11.2km), ground speed of 827km/h, a cold -45C (!!) out, and expected arrival time of 1205 hours, right on schedule. Clear skies, 20C and decent visibility awaited us.
DESCENT & ARRIVAL
An untimely nap meant that I missed the start of descent, and that we were well in to the descent phase of the flight. Slowly but surely we came in close to Bengaluru.
Lined up with Runway 27 and a smooth-ish touchdown was executed at 1203 hours, two minutes before time and 1hr12min in flight.
Another flight on Jet Airways down. We taxied to the remote bays where, of course, there was a Jet Airways A330 parked, ugh! This plane would pretty much waste the entire day on the ground - good thing Jet no longer sends the A330 to BLR and makes much better use of it.
Amongst the many IndiGo A320s were just a few Jet Airways planes, and we docked at Gate 2.
Engines out at 1210 hours, the request to pull down window shades by the crew went over the head of most/ all passengers as they clearly had other things to do rather give it 5 seconds and help others, wow.
Anyway, Mum and I headed out. JGJ would head back to Mumbai and onwards to Nagpur as S24165.
Waiting around a little bit -
Baggage took some time to come out, but what took longer was getting an app-based taxi to head to our accommodation.
Ironic it took forever since this was Ola’s home base, hmmm. In fact it took so long that I even saw JGJ take off head back to Mumbai!
Mumbai - BOM
Bangalore - BLR
Not that it matters much, but this was my third JetKonnect flight in four Jet Airways group flights, and while it wasn’t the best, it certainly wasn’t bad. Food while small in quantity did well for quality. I hope to see a proper dessert back some day. Moreover, the crew were proactive and helpful, while I absolutely loved JetScreen. And what better than being at your destination on time, right?! A missed opportunity with the A330 and B73G, but it is what it is. I was looking forward to my stay in Bengaluru!
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