INTRODUCTIONSpiceJet? Again? One would totally think my Mum and I would be insane venturing out with them again since our debacle with them the last time out. Well, once again it was down to me to search for the cheapest fare on the route. Air India's timing worked well - and a double bogey soon to be retired A320-200 aircraft. Vistara, Jet Airways and IndiGo's fares seemed to be a little on the high side, which left us with SpiceJet.
BOOKING ISSUES….A slight confusion meant that my Dad booked us on to the hand-baggage only fare, but this had to be changed at some point. I figured it would be best to do this at the airport itself. As far as the aircraft goes, this would be on a Boeing 737-900ER. The largest 737, and the largest type in SpiceJet's fleet. They have 4 of these 212 seater planes. And all 4 of them touch Kolkata at some point during the day. In fact, 2 of them are based in Kolkata - one would to Bangkok, return and then head to Mumbai/Goa. The other would actually be in Kolkata during the night before doing the following rotation:
BENGALURU!Bengaluru itself was lovely. Great meeting with some old friends and family, and relive some memories of when I was 8 (or what I could remember!). In another amazing things, Ferrari scored a lovely 1-2 in the streets of Monaco, Sebastian Vettel leading a dominant win from Kimi Raikkonen, but the latter’s pole position was a celebration in itself! Some pictures -
UNLUCKY #13: SPICEJET DELAYS! (BUT AT LEAST WE KNOW NOW…)And then, the penny dropped. A text from SpiceJet which was forwarded to me by Dad - a 2hr35min delay due to operational reasons. Hmm, a cracked windshield again, perhaps? With this delay, things actually worked out a little bit. We would be able to meet some other friends who were in Yelahanka, on the way to Bengaluru Airport. Perfect! At least SpiceJet let us know…
SO WHY DID THEY DELAY?The next morning as I packed and got ready for the day, my good friend AbV spotted a good catch: while VT-SLC was all well and on its way to BOM/GOI as SG488, VT-SPU was in fact on its way to Port Blair operating a charter. Ah, no wonder it was an operational reason, and once again highlights SpiceJet’s issues with a (relatively) small fleet. However, I was quite pessimistic. There was no way the 2hr35min delay would sustain. And so it happened: it all started with a delayed departure from IXZ back to CCU due to the weather. The entire rotation was about to be thrown in to limbo. (screenshot by FR24)
UNLUCKY #14: MORE DELAYS, AND WHAT WAS THAT CHECK IN?!Just as we were pulling in to the airport at around 1925 hours, SpiceJet sent us another text telling us that the flight was rescheduled to 2245 hours. Absolutely not ideal given that we specifically took the flight for its timing. Boo SpiceJet!
OFF TO SECURITY -Here are some of the other check in counters, good to see UL bustling! :)
AND NOW TO WAIT….There was not much to see out since it was dark out. We decided to head to the gate anyway. Gate 11 for us. reminiscent our last flight on SG, this too was on a B73J, this too was significantly delayed, this too was a remote bay boarding. The only difference? Well I guess there was perfectly functioning plane this time around. In the remote bay area boarding of the terminal - there was not much of eating or shopping areas, they were all a level above.
BOARDING!A gate change was called from Gate 11 to Gate 12 - signifying more delays. All passengers pretty much run to the other gate…for whatever reason.
ONBOARD -Anyway, we took our seats and voila! Boarding was complete. Just like SZL a year ago, this plane’s interior was battered with worn seats and they smelt bad. My seat pocket was broken, too. Flight attendants made their announcements, while sincerely apologizing for the delay. Captain Kevin was in command, second officer Kushal. Gina was the lead flight attendant, and with her were Monica, Shubhra, Adina and some other’s name I did not catch. A flying time of 2hr20min enroute to Kolkata.
DEPARTUREAs some classy Western songs played (a common theme on SpiceJet that I have noticed), one of the two CFM56-7B27 engines were fired up while we were on stand. This was a first for me. It was 2212 hours, just fifteen minutes after I boarded, and a whole 4hr02min late. Pushback was at 2215 hours. Suffice to say, whatever clearance ATC had given kept delaying the flight more and more. Good thing they had The Beatles playing as we taxied to Runway 27.
WAS THAT A LIE?!Now it is up to debate how you’d want to interpret this, but as I mentioned above the flight was delayed due to it operating a charter to Port Blair prior to its rotation. Right? So, the Captain let us know that the delay was due to a delayed arrival of the inbound aircraft, which was also due to the cascading effects of the cyclone back in Kolkata. I find it painful to know that despite SpiceJet’s own website saying ‘operational reasons’ for the delayed flight (which makes sense since there was a charter flight..), the Captain straight up told us it was a weather delay when in reality despite the weather, most flights took off from Kolkata with a delay of only 45 minutes at maximum. Here we were on a 4hr delayed flight… Maybe the new crew were told they’d have to mention a weather delay, rather than what actually happened. Once again, miscommunication at SpiceJet. I recommend you checking out the video trip report for this one, the video clearly stating this.
TAKE OFF!Lined up with Runway 27 at 2229 hours and took off a minute later, 4hr20min. A quick climb in to the cloudy skies, for a moment it felt like the nose was pitched down a little bit, but that was just me. We were actually climbing, perhaps at a reduced vertical speed.
INFLIGHTOnce airborne, as curios as I am, I decided to check out the WiFi - and for sure there was something on there! It didn’t work, just an open connection with various random words and letters. Most passengers fell asleep as we climbed towards 35000 feet, despite the lights being kept on. There were a few bumps here and there.
DESCENTCabin lights were turned back on for arrival preparations, a whole 45 minutes before arrival. The clock had struck midnight as we slowly started descending somewhere over Odisha.
ARRIVALWe docked at an aerobridge gate this time, Gate 22 - right beside VT-JBY a Jet Airways B737-900ER - this was being prepared for its red eye service back to Mumbai. I realized that Jet Airways was the only Jet I’d be flying within India. SPU would overnight at Kolkata before operating the same SG516/517 rotation, and this time without a single delay. Rotten luck!
Well, that brings me to the end of this! What an absolute crap of a flight. Two SpiceJet flights, both on B737-900ERs, both significantly delayed, both with terrible communication across different departments. Like I said, I would really have to be convinced to fly with them once again. Starting off with the initial delay itself (which was acceptable given their small fleet and they informed us well in time) which later transpired in to something much larger, the fumble at check in, boarding was absolutely messy (one coach, and no organization at the plane whatsoever), I hate to say a lie from the flight deck, absolutely uncomfortable and horrible seats, and eventually, a broken suitcase. I have had worse flights, but this will definitely go down as one of them. Positives - the meal was great! The music was fabulous, and shout out to the crew for keeping their composure.