As mentioned in an earlier part - there were plans to head to North India for a vacation parts of the country that I haven’t visited much, barring an internship with IndiGo which resulted in a 1.5 month stay in New Delhi. A trip with the cousins - they’d head out to see Agra, Jaipur, Delhi - the golden triangle.
Uttarakhand. A state up in the north with plenty of views of the great Himalayas. If one gets a clear day there are some unparalleled views. With the places sorted I was of course most interested in travel between Kolkata and New Delhi: ex-capital to the capital. My father decided we take the train from New Delhi to Kolkata (Howrah Station, rather). Rajdhani Express. My first train ride in over 6 years. Airfares on the same day suggested that Air India had the exact same numbers as on the train. Usually AI21 is on a 787-8, however the day I looked at was in fact on a 777-300ER, a change that happens often but not that frequently. Oh no!
GO AIR - FINALLY!
For Kolkata to New Delhi it was up to my uncle and his trusted travel agency. I was in for a quite little surprise when I found out that I would finally be flying with Go Air! An airline that I have often given up for flying on Air India’s 787 Dream)liner especially on DEL-CCU. Well, not bad I guess! :)
We would fly Go Air’s first flight of the day from Kolkata: the 0615 departure to Srinagar via New Delhi (G8128) and the other being to Ahmedabad via Jaipur at 0605 hours. Unfortunately however this was not going to be on a NEO: GoAir and IndiGo use the troubled PW GTF engines which meant a lot of these were grounded.
Go Air has been an interesting one in India. They’ve been around through India’s ups and downs in aviation, being in existence since late 2005. They did their own thing really - expand cautiously. 9 flights a day between Mumbai & Delhi is pretty respectable, however. They started off with various colors to their standard livery: orange, pink, light green, sky blue, yellow….this was all standardized to a dark blue livery. They have a presence in all over India’s metros with Kolkata making an entry on their schedules in 2011-ish. With a fleet of 24 A320s (neo & ceo) it is a bit of a surprise they haven’t started international services yet. However, they recently added international destinations to Male & Phuket. A brave step, and congratulations to them! And like I said - a low cost airline that’s been around, doing their own thing.
ONLINE CHECK IN
Go Air allows online check in T-48 hours before departure. This meant that the moment I got home from AI401 this was what I checked in for. I knew the weather was good up there given the views of the Himalayas. Seats in front of the engine for us: 6D/E/F, 7D/E/F, 8F. Seats were confirmed for free if I remember correctly.
With a round of repacking done over the next few days and spending time with Dobby (the bestest) I made the critical mistake of heading down to the pub with my brother the night before the flight. This would be the first time I head up with my brother drinks. Two very large drinks. More like 6 because of big they were. We got back home at around 0145 am. About 3 hours before departure I was in a very bad state. A quick lay down later my alarm went off at 0330. Barely a nap, but it was time to look human, feel human. Oh boy, this was going to be a fun one.
Dressed up, protected for the winter?
The drink. Times two. Just seeing this picture makes me sick….
DEPARTURE DAY: A WOBBLY START
By some miracle I got in to the car and I have no idea how we made it to the airport. Perhaps normally, I’d imagine. It felt like a rocket ship, however. No, I wasn’t driving! :P If there was anything that was most significantly wobbly about this trip it was certainly my state walking around in Kolkata’s new T2.
We were at a very busy gate for entrance to the terminal, while it was quite foggy, a typical morning in Kolkata. Given my family & my rather conservative personal margins - a 0445 hours arrival at Kolkata airport was just 1.5 hours before scheduled departure time. Pretty late, but I was thankful given the wobbly state I was in.
BAGGAGE SCREENING, CHECK IN BAGGAGE DROP
Baggage screening was next - I somehow got a picture or two and chilled out by check in. And by that I mean sit on one of the chairs so that I didn’t cause any trouble. Oh dear. Stopped from proceeding - the snaking baggage trolleys every where - hey at least there isn't a need to shell out $5 on this!
Staying away from the trouble - check in looks empty?
However check in was relatively empty, thankfully. Unlike the IndiGos and Jets and Air Indias of the day, GoAir just had the flight(s) to Jaipur and Srinagar/New Delhi. Of course, like I said we were relatively late which wasn’t ideal. 7 passengers checked in quickly. Walking up to check in for an ID check - how inconvineit!
Baggage tags printed and handed the stubs were printed to the most responsible person’s: aka me (sarcasm…). With too much responsibilities in my hands, it was on to security.
There were some lines, not too bad - however it took a while 14 minutes. Not that I could remember much anyway, so…. It was 0528 hours, 7 minutes to boarding. After security.
It was 5 minutes of dawdling around before boarding started at 0533 hours, 2 minutes before schedule, and with not much spotting to do due to the heavy fog, I decided to take it easy and sit around till the line shortened. After all, there was 42 minutes till departure.
VT-GOM, a 4.8 years old Airbus A320-200 with sharklets and CFM56 engines was at the jet bridge gate. She did not have much of a break: G8511 from Mumbai landed at 0145 hours. The wait for a NEO just got extended, but I was happy to finally a log a G8 flight, and most importantly happy (& surprised) to be as functioning as I was…
With the lines shortened in less than 10 minutes the 7 of us joined the line, with your truly being extra cautious and following a straight line down the jet bridge….
Onboard at 0534 hours to two crew members welcoming us: one at main galley, another in the aisle handing out some leaflets with onboard sales merchandise.
The airplane has 180 seats, however 176 with the ability to sit passengers thanks to the first 2 rows being GoBusiness, middle seats empty like European J class. Took our seats as the cabin filled up quickly. GoBusiness leather seats
Typical of any LCC the announcements were pre-recorded. To start with it was reminding passengers to share the overhead bin space with others. Nice idea - but it doesn’t quite work out, unfortunately. The crew tried to help other passengers in this regard & get the flight going early.
Ads everywhere, again typical of a LCC:
As the sun slowly peeked through the fog there was still no view from the window due to the dense & thick fog. Departure time drew closer as more announcements were played: the usual shut off electronic devices, put tray tables away, the rules in general, etc. The plane was pretty full: most economy class seats were filled up, but GoBusiness went unsold. Window view
Cabin crew finally came around to make their announcements: it would be a quick 2hr hop to New Delhi. Captain Darshan Guraya (?) was in command, First Officer Aditya Sharma would be assisting them, Sakshi was the cabin manager in charge working alongside Monica, Puja and Manisha.
Pushed back at 0602 hours - 13 minutes early! It is always great to be on the first ever flight for the day, one’s almost guaranteed an on time departure especially at the non-base airport. The two CFM56-5B4/3 fired up before we taxied to through the dense fog to Runway 01R. This was during the time CAT IIIB ILS systems were about to be launched in Kolkata - visibility was quite slow (I regret not looking at the METAR…ugh!) and was perhaps being tested for the planes landing. Proper IFR conditions!
Lined up with Runway 01R at 0613 hours and the CFM56 engines roared in to life as we made a swift departures out of the fog & in to the clear skies.
A beautiful sunrise was right behind us as we flew West/Northwest towards New Delhi. There’s something magical about flying during the golden hour:
Robot voice came back on as we crossed 10000 feet: seatbelt signs were turned off, but you know the rest…. They thanked us for flying with GoAir, and quite frankly so far so good really. Pretty neat & efficient so far.
Most passengers were asleep thanks to the early morning. I have VT-GOM’s CFM56s whirring to help me get out of the zone of intoxication, slowly gaining my senses back and being more aware of my surroundings. The robot vice came back 12min in to the flight, commencing Buy-on-Board sales.
Knowing the hearty bengalis that we are my uncle’s travel agent ensured that we had a pre-booked breakfast going for us. This was an add on to the ticket fare that was paid while booking, just like any other LCC. I maintain that SpiceJet do have the best catering amongst the low-cost carriers in India thanks to the variety of hot meals available. Heck, they’re sometimes even better than full-service carriers!
Go Air has gone the IndiGo way of saving costs by not having ovens. The meals on offer are either cold or can be warmed up instantly by pouring water (ramen noodles, upma, etc). Unfortunately catering only loaded a few chicken sandwiches. They ran out of these by the time they served my cousin in 8F. Oh well.
The combo included a juice (has to be Mango!) and a chicken tikka sandwich. While the family had what was a quick snack in the morning before actual breakfast that morning, this soaked up a lot of the remaining booze in my system. This meal made me feel so much better even if it wasn’t anything outstanding, pretty standard fare. Service continued towards the back of the cabin as we climbed up to 36000 feet, cruising altitude.
Took the opportunity during the slight lull to head to the restroom up front. A slight line there: well, perfect time to check out GoBusiness! Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t much really. The empty middle seat always helps I guess. Window view was unparalleled:
Front of cabin:
Legroom is pretty rudimentary
The restroom was standard, and clean, seeing as I was only the third person to use it….
Back in 6F I knew it we were approaching the snow-capped Himalayas. And boy was that a view!!! I got my camera out, Dad got his camera out as we photographed the lovely mountain range. This would get better over the course of the vacation. But for now, these are the views:
Overhead panels, typical Airbus stuff
While flying by these gorgeous mountains the robot voice came back around requesting us to get rid of trash to ensure a quick & easy turnaround.
This was followed by an announcement pertaining to the sale of merchandise onboard, these getting a little excessive and unnecessary.
Seat pocket contents:
1hr16min in to the flight the first officer came around with a quick announcement: we were now at 38000 feet where the temperature was a chilly -20C, but inside the cabin a nice 25C. We were about 40-45 minutes out of New Delhi, and descent would start fairly shortly. Delhi was reporting a chilly 10C with visibility of a whopping 0.5km. Lovely - thank the almighty for CAT IIIB eh?!
DESCENT IN TO NEW DELHI
Descent started at 0745 hours - 01hr29min in flight. We slowly came down as more announcements were made by the robots of the reminders before landing. We lined up with Runway 28. It was pretty cool to hear the auto-pilot be disengaged (and I caught this in the video TR: 12:15 in!) a few hundred feet from the ground.
Nice layover of fog over New Delhi
A lovely Indian Airforce Ilyushin IL-76 greeted us in addition to the several IndiGo A320s (just like 3 days ago on British Airways’ B747!), some of which were also leased from Small Planet Airlines. You will hear my cousin point this out and she asks me what airline they belonged…to which I wrongly said a lease to GoAir. We touched down at 0816 hours: exactly 2 hours in flight! We were in 15 minutes before time, but a taxi to Terminal 2 was still on the cards.
To decongest the crowds due to the LCC boom, Terminal 2 was brought back to life after being left (although Airports Authority of India offices in the building were more than functional) to bite dust during the year, except for the Hajj season. GoAir exclusively had Terminal 2 to themselves for a little bit. Before the amazing T3 opened T2 was the international terminal.
Taxied by some business jets, and other G8 planes along the way. It was 10C outside in New Delhi. 2x Zoom Air CRJ-200s - return of the -200 since Jetlite got rid of them a few years ago
Following the human’s announcement the robot came back, reminding passengers that it was OK to use mobile phones. However as we pulled in to the gate there was yet another announcement! This time for a reminder to keep seatbelts fastened. Engines cut, we parked beside a company A320 (unsurprisingly…), the 11th robot announcement requested for placing extension seatbelts on the seats…. wow. And the 12th? Disembarkation through the aerobridge. There was no stopping the announcements, but it looked like it had finally ended.
This was done, thankfully. G8128 would continue on to Srinagar on a different plane however (turned out to be VT-WGC, a NEO. Great!), while VT-GOM would head to Ahmedabad.
TIME TRAVEL TO THE 90s - THE ESCAPE FROM THE ROBOTS, THE INTOXICATION….
The interior of Delhi’s T2 is one of a typical back-in-the-day AAI airport with the feels of being in the 90s. But new signs were put up making for navigation around the terminal quite nice & easy. Ceilings were pretty low at baggage claim…now not the clouds, the actual roof! Bags took time to show up but hey we had nothing to worry about!
Just outside the jet bridge
Down to arrivals
You bet I will, DIAL!
So. Many. Trolleys!
Took our stuff, and headed out. We would split ways with my cousins. We’d see them at the very end of the week, on the train back to Kolkata. But it was vacation time, and I was sure looking forward to a new adventure in Northern India!
This floor would've been interesting to negotiate while still intoxicated…
Time to take a taxi!
Kolkata - CCU
New Delhi - DEL
My first flight on GoAir was quite an interesting one. And I have myself to blame for having a little too much before the flight. I am quite surprised that I did not end up puking in & around this flight. The recovery went well after I got home - a much needed nap. [b]However, back to GoAir: very efficient, I can say.[/b] Check in & boarding was pretty quick, leading to a 12 minute before time pushback. Pretty fun going through the fog and popping over the clouds for an amazing sunrise & Himalayan views. Food was pretty basic - LCC stuff, and the crew were courteous as well. It was a nice surprise to be on GoAir: [b]would I fly with them again? If the fare & other factors work in favor, sure![/b]
Kolkata was pretty busy at the time - while I wasn't the most functional at the time I do not imagine the services and stuff being awfully different. I did appreciate the efficiency, however. Delhi's T2 I'm not sure if its a temporary fix or whatever but it does serve it's purpose. T1D hopefully is a little less congested now, however baggage delivery took a little long, but no harm done.
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