SpiceJet? 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.
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: CCU BLR 0655 0930 BLR PNQ 1020 1145 PNQ GOI 1220 1330 GOI PNQ 1400 1510 PNQ BLR 1545 1715 BLR CCU 1810 2040 As you can see, a packed day. A packed with no room for delay. Absolutely none. But time’ll tell what really happened on this one. The details for our flight: SpiceJet SG517 BLR CCU dep @ 1810 arr @ 2040 B737-900ER
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 -
Completed a web check in online for SpiceJet, once again pretty straightforward, and confirmed a B737-900ER flight. I selected seats for my Mum and I just behind the wing, but just in front of the third set of emergency exit doors.
No, no need for any more add ons, thanks!
Good thing we confirmed the contact details….
SEQ 1 & 2 for Mum and I:
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)
While VT-SPU did its thing, we met some more friends, always nice! Going by the rescheduled times for SG516/517, I was quite concerned to see that the plane was still in Goa when it really should’ve been reaching Pune on the way back. A longer delay was expected. I heard the plane take off to Pune while trying to nap that afternoon… (screenshot by FR24)
With this in mind, we headed out to Kempegowda International Airport. The 2008-opened airport didn’t seem to be very busy.
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!
Most passengers at SpiceJet were in fact heading to Kolkata and most of them were pissed off and frustrated. Understandably so. There was an agent guiding hand baggage only folk towards the kiosks, perhaps to keep the line(s) clear. Check in for each and every passenger was very slow and this was no different for us.
So, remember when I mentioned that we had to pay for baggage because we were wrongly booked on to the hand baggage only fare? Alrighty, the agent who checked us misinformed us big time. She mentioned there was no way we would be able to check our baggage in since we were on hand baggage only tickets. What she meant was that this wouldn’t be done for free. We were okay with this, however the way it was portrayed was not ideal. A quick conversation with her later, this was squared away, with a few hundred rupees charged.
Boarding passes received - that showed the first rescheduled time.
Hmm, most/all SpiceJet flights delayed, all for pretty much different reasons….
OFF TO SECURITY -
Here are some of the other check in counters, good to see UL bustling! :)
Security was next. Now, this was unfortunately a little frustrating because given how empty it was there was no reason for this to take 15 minutes. Why? Because the CISF were up to talking to each other, no regard given to things being screened. No, they did not look at the X-ray screen as much which highlights a huge concern.
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.
It wasn’t until when we sat down did SG517 take off from Pune to get to Bengaluru. There were more delays on the line. It was a good thing there were some things to spot - namely an Etihad A321 to Abu Dhabi and an Air India A320neo to Mumbai.
Gate 11 -
It was quite the long wait before the aircraft showed up - everyone around us were quite frustrated, but my mother and I had FR24 on us. I spotted SPU land in the distance.
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.
Boarding was (finally!!) called at 2141 hours - a sound of hallelujah played in my head. However, that didn’t promise anything. Given that BLR is India’s technology hub I was actually quite disappointed to see that the self-boarding scanners were turned off and just laying around. And BLR made a big deal out of this news, I guess so much for keeping up to this….
Everyone was sardined in to the coach. We made it outside the terminal just in time for one bus to head towards the plane. What followed next was a wait just outside the terminal for a good 10 minutes. Customer service going a long way at SpiceJet, seeing as they made us wait so long out in the heat. They had just the one coach between the terminal and the plane itself. Amazing. Well, good thing there was a Singapore Airlines Airlines B777-200ER go by!
The bus finally shows up -
And of course SPU was parked all the way by the cargo bay! Well, I didn’t mind (for one), since it meant walking right under the wing Fun stuff! There was no one behind me, save for 2 others.
Boarded from the back at 2157 hours. And this is always always ALWAYS a bad idea. No one will be willing to give you way to the seats if you board from the back, and neither will any form of zone boarding be enforced by ground staff leading to absolute mayhem. Another thing SpiceJet could learn, I suppose.
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.
As 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.
Thankfully, it was a no-nonsense taxi, it was pretty quick. While we waited, the Captain came around and give us some more information regarding the flight.
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.
Anyway, cruising altitude of 35000 feet, 2hr20min flying feet, and a slightly bumpy flight was expected, and so we’d have to have our seatbelts on for most of it.
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.
Once 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.
The crew sprung in to action with the distribution of hot meals and other pre-reserved meals before finally starting off with service. Dad had booked a hot meal for mum and I - got the chicken tikka biriyani w/mirch ka salan. It came as a box in a box - just like on Vistara. This was accompanied by a bread roll and brownie. The pre-pakached stuff looked a little dry - I decided to take this home to feed puppy back home - despite the long delays and what not, I was so excited to see Dobby again!
Quite easily the best of the flight was the meal itself. The biriyani was nice and flavorful - spicy, even! Few pieces of chicken in there made it taste real good. On occasion, I feel SpiceJet does have one of the best meals in Indian skies - and it only matters when the flight isn’t marred by delays ( I suppose…). Regular service followed, but Mum and I were pretty tired - the crew cleared up our tray tables. Cabin lights were turned off as we encountered a little bit of turbulence.
I took a very uneasy nap - given the tiny amount of legroom (typical of a LCC, cannot complain about that), the broken seat back pocket which eat in to the legroom, and a very uncomfortable seat that has probably been around since SPU was delivered. In addition, the cabin was kept at an unbelievably warm temperature so I starting sweating quite easily.
Cabin 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.
Nothing too major as we approached, lined up and landed on Runway 01L at 0039 hours, 2hr09min since take off and 4hr04min late. I was so ready to get off this plane and hit the bed. This definitely wasn’t the worst flight I have been on but it was definitely up (or rather - down) there.
We 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!
Disembarked at 0049 hours and heading down to the baggage claim - I was absolutely shocked that the SpiceJet ground crew managed to knock off a wheel off of my trustee suitcase. Kinda summed up how this flight went anyway. Did not bother arguing with the ground staff about it, a wheel could be easily replaced, but suffice to say I was tired, frustrated and quite frankly angered by SpiceJet antics. Disembarking
Heading down to baggage claim
Waiting for baggage
Damn it, SpiceJet!
The end of a crappy flight….
Got home at around 0145 hours - Dad was fast asleep but my good old boy Dobby tried and huffed to get up to me - he couldn’t, a sign he is aging. I dropped to my knees and hugged him, almost not letting go off him till I slept!
SpiceJet's website directly contradicting what the Captain informed us…
Bangalore - BLR
Kolkata - CCU
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.
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