Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to my summer 2017 series of flight reports. I apologize for the long time that it took between the last report and this one - while college is closed for the summer the workload remains as I try and find a balance between…everything. Without further ado - I move in to the second half of this series and I will try and get this done as quickly as I can!
The video trip report to go with this -
UNLUCKY #15: ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY BLOWN….
If there was anything else that could’ve gone even more south than I planned, it was this. Be me looking at flights to Mumbai from Kolkata but still interested in getting in on a Jet Airways Airbus A330. Timings worked out perfectly to log in (another) Air India B787 flight on there as well: AI21 CCU DEL 1000 1220 B788 9W362 DEL BOM 1730 1950 A332 I booked these, in fact with paying extra for Jet because of baggage allowance. Imagine how furious I was as soon as I found out that my mother would also be flying to Mumbai on June 14th for a conference. If only I was told when I was planning this trip, ugh.
So once again, it was on to cancelling the above two flights, and I rebooked on to the 0925 Jet Airways flight. This B737-900ER flight usually goes empty as it the first non-peak hour flight between the metros. Bummer. I was hoping for it be any B73J barring VT-JLH, since I have been on that airframe on the exact same flight (back then it was 9W626). This would also be my second B73J flight in a row, after the horrendous one on SpiceJet.
And in came TG, once again! Since this ticket was booked in a slightly higher booking class bracket, I was able to upgrade this ticket to Premiere! TG did have a few vouchers those were about to be expired. Without a second thought he gratefully sent the voucher over all the way from Mumbai. Pretty quick - it reached within 24 hours. A quick call to the Jet Airways call center confirmed seat 1A on the B737-900ER. Exciting!! I however decided it’d be awesome if my Mum got this one. Plan was to check in as normal, and we’d make the change as we boarded.
UNLUCKY #16: WHAT JUST HAPPENED TO QATAR?!
If politics did not make enough of an appearance during the electronics and travel ban, things took a turn for the worse. Much worse. I woke up on the morning of 5 June to find out most middle eastern states had pretty much isolated Qatar. It was shocking news to me, but I suppose for many others not quite. As far as aviation went, the blockade meant that a lot of Qatar Airways flights had to divert big time en route. Doha - Khartoum, for example. With such volatility in the region, I was very apprehensive about returning back on Etihad. In fact, I even started looking at possible itineraries on Virgin Atlantic, among others. Given that half the world is brink at war thanks to clowns leading countries, there was really not much to do but have what was a very stressful trip on the cards. As I write this report it doesn’t seem like a resolution has been reached, but neither has anything gone too badly wrong.
To keep me distracted, I was glad there were winds out of the north - which meant Runway 01R and 01L were being used for take offs and landings. I present to you some mediocre spotting pictures from my apartment in Kolkata:
Bonus : Click here displayhide
Would you look at that - an A320neo that works! LOL.
AirAsia India A320
VT-IFI 6E4004 IndiGo A320 from Dibrugarh
VT-SCS AI715 Air India A319 from Imphal
VT-WAK G8537 GoAir A320 from Bagdogra (G8 is an airline I am yet to fly on…)
Well well, we meet again, VT-SPU. And this time - very much on schedule. SG626 from Bagdogra
Dassault Falcon 2000
VT-ITV IndiGo A320neo 6E206 from Dibrugarh
VT-CID Air India A320neo AI780 from Bhubaneswar
VT-TTH Vistara A320 UK897 from Guwahati - Vistara discontinued this route days after this.
VT-JFP Jet Airways B737-800 from Mumbai as 9W623
VT-SCW Air India A319 from Port Blair as AI788 (no, not a B787-8….yet).
We're going intl! A5-JSW DrukAir A319 from Paro as KB120
VT-SCC Air India A319 from Bagdogra as AI722
VT-ANP from New Delhi as AI20 - one of two Air India Dream)liners in to Kolkata - the final light of the day.
VT-SJI Boeing 737-800 of JetKonnect operating S24364 from Guwahati
VT-JGP Boeing 737-800 of Jet Airways operating 9W2264 from Port Blair - this route no longer exists.
And some final few…
ONLINE CHECK IN -
Annoyingly for Jet Airways, web check in opens T-12 hours which is way below the industry standard of 24 hours, most/all airlines around the would operate by this. Pretty bad for a full-service airline, to be honest. But anyway, I got a front-of-engine seat this time around. The long B737-900ER allows for this, thankfully. This is checking in with Mum's PNR since my rebooked itinerary with the J class seat would have to be checked in @ the airport:
Strangely, T-24 hours I received an email mentioning that the flight would have JetScreen. I mean, yay for that but it is one of those things Jet should prioritize!
MIRROR MIRROR ON THE WALL, WHICH -900ER SHALL IT BE?
The night before, I tried to work out which B737-900ER would take me to Mumbai. VT-JBY and VT-JBZ the two Jet Airways livery B73Js were based at New Delhi around the time, leaving VT-JLH and VT-JLJ. I was hoping for the latter. My friend AbV told me about the fantastic CSIA Mumbai Airport app. It would mention both the arrival and departure gates. Cross checking between Flight Radar24 and this app showed that the JAI-BOM flight operated by VT-JLJ would be parked overnight at gate 50 before heading to Kolkata as 9W619. Score, another new registration!
AWAY WE GO!
Departure day, it was the same old same old of me being unhappy on leaving home, but such is life. My mother and I headed for the airport, with me being the only one with checked baggage. We reached Kolkata’s Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International’s Terminal 2 at 0723 hours, just over 2 hours prior to departure time. Entered through gate 2A and in towards baggage screening - something that is still around in Kolkata despite constant news reports of it being removed. The international flights do not have the baggage screening, though. A step forward.
CHECK IN & SECURITY
Went over to the check in baggage drop at 0728 hours. Voucher exchanged for the lounge pass, seat 1A was confirmed for me and suitcase priority tagged. The plan was still to swap as soon as we boarded the aircraft. In total, check in took just under 10 minutes before heading to security. Priority tags for Mum and I - score!
Heading to security -
This was straight forward, and this also took just under 10 minutes. Since the lounge pass was under my name, it had to be me heading for breakfast up there. My mother agreed, as she waited around the gate.
Idli, upma and chicken sausages for breakfast. There was an omelet bar, and other cold stuff like fruit, yogurt, juices, etc. Not a bad lounge, but not the best either. The Travel Food Services lounge did its job, just fine.
Headed back down to the gate at 0815 hours, 1hr10min before departure time. Finding an empty restroom for morning business was very very tricky. It was pretty busy everywhere. The ramp itself was filled with low-cost carriers (SpiceJet, Go Air and IndiGo). Some A320neos were around courtesy of IndiGo (probably is grounded right now anyway), and Air India (flying high, just fine!).
Inside the terminal
VT-JLJ showed up while I was in my pursuit of finding the restroom. It was about 10 minutes late, which meant boarding and departure would be delayed a little bit. A quick bit of spotting yielded an Air India A320neo that had come in from Bengaluru. I did not risk making the long walk all the way to the international/domestic fork to spot the Air India Dream)liner (as I normally would).
Boarding was called from Gate 24 at 0914 hours, 11 minutes before time. An inevitable delay. We lined up just outside JLJ at 0925 hours, departure time.
ONBOARD - MUM IS UP FRONT!
The crew welcomed us onboard, and I mentioned that my mum would be taking 1A and I would be on 12F. This was done with a little bit of confusion, but not much of a hitch.
At seat 12F, I had a solid view of the CFM56-7B24 engine, and of Air India A320-200 VT-EXE. This A320 was part of the Mumbai race, AI676. This flight is almost always delayed (by about 20minutes-ish), so it made sense to stick to Jet Airways.
Meanwhile, the cabin supervisor Salim came up to me and checked my boarding pass to confirm the seat switch. He also told me not worry since my mother would in good hands. Already a great start with Jet Airways! This flight would be 2hr20min, pretty normal for this time of year. Seat 12E remained empty. Score! Captain Akash Bansal was in command, with first officer Amit Baharia.
Pushed back at 0945 hours, 20 minutes late. Some pretty cool Indian/Western classical music was played. And by that - I mean a proper fusion! Indian instruments playing western classical music. I loved it! The two CFM56-7B27 engines were fired up.
A slightly long taxi to 19L - we raced a SpiceJet Q400 heading to Gorakhpur to the runway. It was a bit of a busy time at Kolkata as there were quite a few departures and arrivals. We lined up at 1000 hours, 35 minutes behind schedule.
Do you see the QR B787??
Right behind us the Emirates B777-300ER to Dubai, and in the distance was a Qatar Airways Cargo B777-200LR(F) pushing back, and a Qatar Airways B787-8 parked. QR571/QR572 DOH-CCU-DOH operated as per schedule so clearly there was something up with the extra B787!
Anyway, we departed at 1001 hours as the CFM56-7B27 spooled up and thundered down the runway. A smooth climb over in to the overcast skies over Kolkata, we sound settled in to our cruising altitude of 38000 feet. An awesome take off!
IN FLIGHT -
Usual announcements - and this time (once again) with the emphasis on JetScreen, I settled in to the calming whirrs of the CFM56 engines. The crew wasted no time in serving the passengers on this lightly loaded flight. I received my non vegetarian breakfast at 1022 hours, just 21 minutes after take off. Quite unlike 9W626 from 2 years prior to this flight, this was obviously very early.
And once again, quite unlike 9W626 from 2 years ago, we were served a proper breakfast. The usual suspects were present - bottle of water, plastic cutlery, and a sorry excuse for dessert, Kit Kat. A bun was given as well. The main course consisted of a sorry looking omelet with salsa, potato wedge and chicken sausage. Honestly though, the food tasted just fine given how terrible it looked. To finish it off, I had tea with a slice of lime.
Just under an hour in to the flight the first officer came around on the PA system with information about the flight. He apologized for the delay in departing from Kolkata, but promised a near-on time arrival in to Mumbai. More details of our departure procedure, altitude, temperature (-45C) and how much longer to go.
I took this opportunity to have a look at JetScreen. It was fantastic, just like on S24056…however it felt like this was almost better! There was an animated B737 flying across India - my favorite kind of view.
The person sitting in 12D decided to bolt for the restroom - and so I followed suit. The restroom itself was kept pretty clean which is nice. I find it quite bizarre that Jet does not keep hand wash soap in the restroom whatsoever.
Since the flight was pretty empty, smooth and the cabin crew did not have much going on, I took my time to sit at 43F for a little bit. The back of the plane barely had 10 passengers when there was space for about 50. None of the 3-3s had 3 passengers, most got a middle seat empty (or better - an entire row!) Annoyingly however there was one passenger who kept playing games on their phone real loud. Ugh.
Cabin up front -
For the rest of the flight I just kept to myself, keeping to the IFE on my phone, and dozing in and out of sleep. It had been a pretty solid flight on Jet Airways once again, confirming my loyalty with them.
1149 hours, 1hr48min in flight - the first officer came around with more information of our arrival in to Mumbai - we were looking rock solid for an on time arrival in to Mumbai, despite the delays. Weather was a nice and warm 30C and visibility was decent as well.
Arrival preparations were made at 1155, the crew secured the cabin for arrival in to Mumbai. Some more Indian classical music played over the PA system which was quite nice.
As always has been the case in Mumbai (barring 2 times..), it was a Runway 27 arrival. A lovely SQ B777-200ER greeted us (a flight that is now on an A350!!) as a smooth touchdown was executed at 1213 hours, just 3 minutes late after a 2hr12min flight over from the East.
Slightly long taxi in to Terminal 2 was not helped by a detour due to closed taxi ways. It was sad taxiing by the Air India B747-400s that were awaiting their fate…as soda cans.
Funny enough, the sistership VT-JLH was taxiing out to the runway as we pulled in - and that was also heading to Goa, albeit very late!
A grounded Bangkok Airways was around as well.
Docked at the gate at 1219 hours and the ground staff went straight in to action to prepare the aircraft for 9W472 onwards to Goa.
Disembarked at 1227 hours and made the long walk towards baggage claim.
Got mine at 1240 hours, and we headed for the exit where we booked a taxi and headed to my cousins’ place at Bandra! It was a matter of time before I had the long and stressful journey back to the USA on Etihad Airways.
Some perfume samples were handed out to all passengers -
TG found me after I landed at BOM!
Kolkata - CCU
Mumbai - BOM
Well, if my plan had gone though, I would’ve been in New Delhi airport after logging in (yet another) Boeing 787 flight on Air India, and waiting to board a Jet Airways A330-200 (VT-JWV). However, I was left quite happy with this flight. Mum had a great flight up front thanks to a great crew team, delicious food and the opportunity to interact with a celebrity! Huge thanks to TG for the upgrade voucher. Back in Y, food was OK, IFE great, and crew were nice as well. The delay was made up which is always helpful. I cannot wait to see what Jet has to offer on the B737-MAXs that come in later this year!
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