As has been the trend with my trip reports which are always a couple of months if not a year after when the trip was taken, some observations & comments on here may seem out of line given Jet's current suspension of operations. With that in mind, please enjoy this trip report from a time when things seemed alright, before it all spiraled out of control….
Ah, Jet Airways. The airline that I have loved flying with for so long, but also loved to bang their heads against the wall a couple of times. Ask them ‘what the heck were you thinking?!’ when a few decisions were made. Starting off taking over Air Sahara, and what they did to them after, perhaps even ironically, the reason for the grounding. Then the Konnect fiasco. Then the overly heavy First Class on the Boeing 777s. The configuring and reconfiguring the 737s. Ordering 787s but not taking them. Then opening up to Etihad leading to several flights TO Abu Dhabi, but later pulled back on that. Closing down several destinations in India, and outside of India. Cut down on food, introduce a Buy-On-Board menu, remove that, talk up food that happened to be terrible sandwiches, the whole circle.
And this was even before Jet’s apparent financial struggle that was reported not too long after this trip.
Jet has had a special place in my heart. I flew alone for the first time, as an unaccompanied minor in 2002. I had turned 6 years old, flying Bangalore to Kolkata via Hyderabad, a busy metro route on which Jet no longer operated, succumbing to the low cost carriers. These were on Boeing 737-700 aircraft. Jet also gave me my first wide body flight that I can remember, VT-JWJ an Airbus A330-202 now with Air Serbia taking me from Mumbai to Hong Kong and back. I did fly on a Indian Airlines A300B2 back in 1997, but toddler me doesn’t remember this at all.
And that brings me to this trip report. Despite their flaws I have always had a special place for them in my heart, and I always will. In order to get around the slot constraints at airports in India, Jet Airways thought well to bring some of the A330s to operate domestically. Flights between Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore & Kolkata were operated by the A330 from summer 2016 to fall 2018. My previous 2 attempts of getting on a Jet Airways A330 were thwarted for various reasons: the Mumbai-Bangalore flight being too early, and from the same trip I backed out of a layover in New Delhi.
This time however, I was adamant in making this work. Like I said before it is a sentiment thing: 2010 was quite a big year for me due to various reasons, and it kinda all started with a Jet Airways A330, in it's own weird way. And who knows where Jet will end up: lots of noise being made, calling for the retirement of Jet’s A330s! I had to get this done, somehow. With Turkish arriving at 0435 hours, I knew it would be too late to get on my favorite flight from Delhi to Kolkata, the Air India Dream)liner AI401 departing at 0650. Jet Airways had 3 of the 16 (!!) flights on the A330, showing the importance of wide bodies on this route. 9W336 at 0800, 9W352 at 1300, 9W362 at 1730. Well, 9W336 it would be, giving me 3hr25min connection. Taking in to account of personal buffers, I knew I would make it. We know how that went! :footinmouth:
I did a booking over Jet’s mobile website: I have had issues with this in the past, but this worked out just fine. I also purchased a seat right over the wing, because why not!! Some screenshots:
THE DOWNGUAGE, THE DILEMMA!
Not too long after I booked this however Jet Airways decided to be Jet Airways and shuffle up some of their schedules: the A330s would be put on flights to the Middle East, and Singapore, while the domestic widbodies will be back on the B737s. Well crap. Whilst this made perfect sense for Jet, I was downbeat. A 737NG, when all but 5 flights I've had with Jet have been on the 737. The next flight, 9W358 departing at 0900 was in fact on a B737-8 MAX. Hmm….what if I changed my original booking to this? That was more expensive than buying a new ticket on 9W358 altogether. Realizing I couldn’t afford either, I accepted my fate and stuck to the 737.
No, no, no, no, nooooO! :grumpy:
But remember, this is Jet Airways that we are talking about. Known to make last minute decisions only to revert back, I was overjoyed to find out that 9W336 was back to being an A330! Well, not the newer A330-300, but I’ll take the familiar A330-200!
DEDICATED DOHA DELHI ROTATION
There were 2 A330s dedicated to this rotation. Let’s call this the Dedicated Doha Delhi Rotation. An A330 would depart New Delhi for Doha (9W554 2025 2220), return back at (9W553 2335 0550+1), operate 9W336 (0800 to 1020) to Mumbai, then 9W351 (1300 to 1520) back to Mumbai as 9W362 (1730 to 1900) and then onwards to Doha. A rotation that would be mirrored by another A330-200, therefore ensuring all-A330 operations to Doha (until Jet added further flights on the 737), while 3 peak time flights on the world’s 8th busiest route would be on a wide body. The stage was set for my Jet Airways A330 flight!
But I wasn’t up at check in just yet. I was still on the arrivals level. I should’ve known better, but I decided to try my luck checking in at the baggage drop area (for Air India & Jet Airways), because I had already checked in but it was just a matter of dropping by bag off. Be in India, where there is a security check for every possible move, there was a line to get in here, an onward boarding pass being the only way in. I made this just fine. Unsurprisingly however, in the midst of the mess of several lines, I was turned away, and I had to head up stairs. I couldn’t go out of here because security wouldn’t let me. I had to resort to joining a long disorganized line to get to the elevator. People had to fight their way in - oh boy was I truly home! Wasted 10 precious minutes in this mess.
CHECK IN & SECURITY
Once I did get up to check in level, the situation wasn’t as bad: it was at the tail end of the rush hour out of New Delhi. The queues at check in were not horrible, but I wasn’t comfortable. I tried my luck in requesting myself forward because of a departure time coming up soon: expecting a full on rejection, I was quite pleased to find out the people in front me understood I was running late from an international arrival. Check in itself was quite quick and painless, despite my baggage being a hair over the 15kgs weight limit. In and out of check in within 10 minutes, I was happy to know the people who let me past asked if I was okay and wished me well. It’s the little things that matter.
Security was quite nice and efficient too - the CISF folk being quite patient and helping out people with the TSA type bins & automation. This took another 10 minutes, I was airside at 0654 hours, 1hr06min till departure.
Among the many Air India Airbuses was the one Jet Airways Airbus: an A330, at that. This was VT-JWP that had come in from Doha about 45 minutes late, but would operate 9W336 to Mumbai. A 9.9 years old birdie that was delivered brand new to Jet Airways in 2008. There wasn’t a whole lot going on anyway, given most of the morning departures had departed at this point.
Why hello there! :bouncy: Fun fact about VT-JWP, she along with VT-JWQ are the only two Jet Airways A330s that have remained with the airline since they were delivered. The others went over to Etihad, Alitalia, Air Serbia, Turkish Airlines, etc…
I remember seeing some renovation being completed in December 2017 - this had been completed at this point, and a W H Smith had taken the place of a multi-Indian cuisine food court, which was moved away. Did some spotting on the way to Gate 30, but not a whole lot was around.
The new kid in town, Vistara, has grown well
Contrast this to what it is today….. not a single Jet flight :(
With that being said Delhi does not allow for the best of spotting opportunities anyway. This is the best I could get of JWP, but showing a new coat of paint wouldn’t be too bad…
I also found a recliner to lay my back on, and oh boy was I comfortable…! for a good 5 minutes at least, because I caught some Turkish 777 heading back home, an hour late….
THE DELAY, THE BIGGER DELAY, THE UN-DELAY?!
I headed to gate 30 as it was close to boarding time. The next couple of minutes is quite the metaphor of what Jet is like as whole… A 20 minute delay was announced, the same being sent via text. This was due to a technical snag that had to be fixed. No big deal, but with the re-scheduled time it looked like my buffer had been extended just that little bit longer.
A few minutes later, another delay announcement, this time for a 50 minute delay, due to late arrival of aircraft. This made sense, given 9W553 was 45 minutes late. But why the change in reason?! Boarding would start at 0800 hours, departure time. An SMS text was sent about this, as well. This is also when people started moaning and groaning, but nothing life threatening for the ground staff.
As the gate area filled up, the crew made their way down the jet bridge - fantastic to see two women being the pilots! CISF opened up the gate and boarding was called at 0738 hours, 22 minutes to departure, as if no delay was announced in the first place. And the reason for the 50 minute delay was changed to technical reasons. Huh, what was going on here?! JetConfusion, that’s what….
And so, I decided to waste no time in getting onboard this plane. Another domestic wide body flight, woohoo! Although Economy boarding wasn’t called yet, I wasn’t stopped. Most passengers were in business attire which goes to show the importance of having the A330 on such a short route.
Yes, yes, yes, yes!
A wave of tiredness hit as I stepped onboard JWP at 0745 hours, to wooden floors and a warm welcome: just like 8 years ago when I was heading to Hong Kong. Such a nostalgic feel! I made my way back to seat 28K, the second-to-last-row of the first section in Economy.
Maybe, just maybe the seats were a metaphor for how Jet were doing then (before shit hit the fan) - the brown seats were a welcome change to what one finds on the 737s, but they looked worn. The seatback instructions stickers looked like it had all gone, and definitely had seen better days. The tray table was nice & locked away: the reason I say this is because the 9W76 BOM-HKG back in 2010, seat 14K the tray table would not lock away. The clip was broken, and the plane was barely 3 years old. The seat back had stains that wasn’t cleaned up for long times on end, which was heartbreaking to see.
Aging, wear & tear
It was nice to find a very comfortable pillow on the seats - but no blankets although these were available on request.
In the meantime I tested out the in-flight entertainment, JetScreen. The touchscreen seemed to work just fine, not so much a hammer-screen but it responded. As expected and reported in the past there wasn’t a whole of options to see in the movies, but it passed the metal test thanks to Metallica’s Hardwired….To Self Destruct!
Jet never installed WiFi entertainment on the 22 wide body airplanes given their heavy utilization, but it also meant the planes flying passengers for longer periods of time did not have the strongest of entertainment selections…
The cabin filled up rather well, again justifying an A330 on this route. The flight attendants were cheerful as well. In fact I spoke to one of them while boarding was still happening: she was not aware of what had gone wrong with the plane, but was confident that despite the delay we were still planning on making it on time to Mumbai. Perfect, that worked me. A business-person took seat 28H.
The Jet A330 have a very helpful footrest hammock which was advertised greatly when these and the B777s were delivered. I remember taking full advantage of these during the ‘very long 6hr flights’ to and from Hong Kong in 2010. I do not however remember seeing a nifty reading light on the seatback. Probably was there back then, I just do not remember noticing it. Hammock
Nifty reading light
A quick announcement from the Captain stated that we'd be on our way shortly now that the technical snag was fixed (huh, so it was an issue then!) and that all clearances had been received. There would be a bumpy flight there thanks to the weather systems, and some rain was awaiting us at Mumbai, too.
IFE was turned off as the systems were reset for the domestic flight - we pushed back at 0829 hours, a delay of 29 minutes.
Some of the planes putting India on the map…
Another sound that I was quite fond of when it came to the time of starting up: the GE CF6s on this A330 made me think about how they are the less beastly sibling of the GE90s - especially after the two 777-300ER flights with Turkish.
Everything went very quickly at this point, right from taxiing to the runway to the announcements. I guess it did turn in to a bit of a rush while the last passengers boarded.
Taxiing was a touch long, but nothing exciting happened until we lined up with Runway 11 at 0838 hours and started the take off roll. The Jet Airways A330 experience was back on! It was a pretty smooth climb up to 40000 feet, banking South/Southwest. Condensation over the wing was the name of the game, because monsoon.
Settling in flight I started to realize the windows were in a much worse condition than I anticipated than on the ground. But anyway. Most passengers were asleep, or doing their own thing really. The announcements happened, as normal. As far as IFE goes, they just had the information & map screens running: perfectly fine for me, and for this length of flight. I tracked our progress along the busy route. This was in Hindi & English.
Seat pocket contents
Jet's primary hub - BOM
Fleet - look at the MAX up there, how times have changed…
Barely 20 minutes in to the flight the crew sprung in to action: 200+ passengers need to be fed within the hour. Now Jet has known to be very inconsistent with the meals on flights. Just in 2017 a decent snack would be served on a 1hr10min flying time BOM-BLR route, but now (July 2018) it was just a sandwich. A cold one, at that. This was mostly due to the flight timing. Figuring that this was a prime-time breakfast flight, I was curios. From the options offered I was very impressed to find out there were 3 options for breakfast: North Indian, South Indian, and a non-vegetarian option. I had the latter, as always: I was served at 0910 hours, 29 minutes in flight.
There was a fruit bowl with the usual musk-melon, watermelon and papaya. Packaged bread and butter, wasn’t the freshest but that’s okay. Usual Jet Airways candy - the tamarind candy, made it’s appearance too. There was mango flavored yogurt too - and be me, one who loves everything about mango - I was happy to see this! And of course, a bottle of water.
For the main course there was masala omelet, a nice potato side, and a chicken cutlet. Suffice to say this was way better than the mess I had gotten on 9W76 to Hong Kong 8 years ago…And this was one of the best meals I have had onboard Jet Airways. I was very impressed. Nicely done, Jet! And finally, there was actual silverware used, not the plastic stuff that is seen on domestic flights. Inconsistencies galore, but here I was on the positive side of things. I had some tea to finish things off.
Nice & solid breakfast!
Tea wasn't enough to keep me awake..
And this is where another wave of tiredness hit. Hard. I fell asleep for a little bit as the trays were collected.
Nothing exciting happened until 1hr10min in to the flight when the captain made her announcement: cloudy skies were awaiting us as the rain showers had moved past, and that descent would be a little bumpy as a result. 28C, and visibility of 2.2km were reported. IFR, all the way!! She also did apologize for the 20 minute delay.
DESCENT & ARRIVAL
Seatbelt signs came on rather quick - we chopped through the clouds and came down gracefully, just like an A330 would. The crew did their checks to prepare the cabin for arrival. We had to hold for about one round before continuing on with our approach.
It became apparent that somehow ATC had let us in before others as the wing had disappeared in amongst the clouds, flaps set and gear down - maybe there won’t be any delay after all?
We lined up with Runway 27 as I saw the rain move & dissipate towards the east. Two lovely 777s greeted us as we began the flare and round out - one of Jet to Heathrow, the other Emirates to Dubai.
A very smooth touchdown at 1022 hours after a planned flying time of 1hr41min, we taxied off the active and made our way towards Terminal 2, a long taxi..
Oh hey, more 777s!
Terminal 1B now filled with IndiGo planes, yes, that is a 787 in the distance taken in for maintenance…
Winds firmly out of the west, Air India wide bodies firmly in 'maintenance', Jet Airways off to London…
The crew happily announced an on-time arrival, given the 40 minute delay in taking to the skies, but we hadn’t reached the gate yet. They were also happy to announce a flight to Manchester, something of a shot-in-the-arm for Jet given their current situation. Of course, as I mentioned before it all unfolded a little after this flight anyway.
Taxiing was not too quick, but we docked at the gate just fine at 1029 hours, a delay of 9 minutes which actually reads as an on time arrival. A wonderful end to something of a nostalgic blast-from-the-past.
JetKonnect 737-800 VT-JGJ, and another 737 in the background, the difference today being most all gates have no 9W planes, and the background filled to the brim with grounded 737s :(
Cabin upon disembarkation - of course I waited :D
I thanked the crew and disembarked, to chill out in Mumbai for a little bit. Given that the Northeast (Air India) & Southeast (Jet Airways) piers are for domestic use exclusively, it is difficult to fit an A330 there, so predictably JWP was parked at the central pier. This also meant a very long walk to baggage claim as this is a swing gate used for international and domestic flights. No issues for me, I had all the time to kill. Collected my suitcase and headed out - I was officially back home…!
Goodbye VT-JWP, and thank you for a memorable flight! She'd head back to New Delhi as 9W351, come back to Mumbai as 9W362, and then head to Doha as 9W560 (I think..)
T2 is on another level, I love it
A bruised it, a bruised side…
VT-JGC is one of two 737-900s (no winglets, no extra exits) with 28 seats in Preimere class, that was primarily used on key metro routes between Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai & Bangalore, same routes where the A330 was deployed.
AI in the Northeast Pier
One of 22 Airbus A319
Big plane, same old baggage - the 15kgs meant that most all baggage came by quickly
New Delhi - DEL
Mumbai - BOM
If it wasn’t obvious enough, I cannot hide how much I like Jet Airways, and despite their best of attempts, it has been difficult for them to keep this loyalist away. I have been longing to get on Jet’s A330, and I am glad to have finally done it, especially on the -200 that is rumored to quit the fleet. What did go right: well, I made it, that’s for sure! Check in was nice, the cabin crew were excellent, and the meal was just amazing. The IFE worked for what I honestly thought was just fine on this short flight. Honestly, this flight was up there with what I have experienced back in the pre-2010 Jet-mess days. Confusion with the delay(s) and eventually leading to leading to nothing and a very worn down interior were about the only negatives I can think of.
It wasn’t until just 2 weeks after this flight did rumors surface that Jet didn’t have cash to see out the month of August 2018. And yet, here we are in June, a year after and everything is over. April 17th 2019, it all came to naught. Planes started to be grounded starting middle of February which is when it all started going bad to worse, to where it is now. Most if not all planes have been repossessed by lessors and sub-leased to SpiceJet and/or Vistara. Debt gone unpaid, no resolution in sight. With every day passing of no news, or potential deals falling and the owner Naresh Goyal being pressed with charges, I think I have finally come to accept that this is the end of Jet Airways. Was this my final flight on Jet Airways.....?
And on that bombshell, it is time to end. Thank you so much for sticking through what was quite the trip through memory lane for me, and do stay tuned for the next part!
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