Hello and Welcome to Trip Report 31!
Flying back to India once again, this time being my first time visiting North India which was predicted to be a very different experience overall.
My aim for this Trip was to complete my trip to "Aulia -e-Hind" thereby visiting the globally known Ajmer Dargah, Abode of The Great Scholar and Sufi Shaykh: Hz. Moinudeen Chisty more famously known as Khwaja Gharib Nawaz (RA) The Patron Saint of Hind. His Shrine has been patronized for Centuries by Traditional Sufi Muslims, Hindus and the faithful that give their highest respects and visit the Saint to receive his Blessings.
Planning was incredibly straightforward since I had gone through these plans a couple of months ago as well.
We managed to benefit from SriLankan Airlines 40th Anniversary promotional fares and booked ourselves on UL's one of three daily services from Colombo to New Delhi.
Ajmer had its own Airport as well, however it operated just a handful of flights per day from destinations that included Delhi, Ahmadabad and Hyderabad.
We decided to fly to the next closest and biggest Airport in the State of Rajasthan which would take us on a red-eye flight after a short layover at the Indian Capital to the "Pink City": Jaipur and we would then arrange for a Cab to take us on the 140Km or rather 3 hour ride to Ajmer
Online Check-in showed us that we'd be definitely on-board my old friend 4R-ABL! One of the Oldest (and the most outdated) Airbus A320-200 in service with the National Carrier and I was not at all keen on flying on it once again
Trying to make the best out of a horrible situation, I managed to secure myself a bulkhead seat at the very first row of Economy Class which had as I recall a decent engine view from my previous experience.
With rains raging havoc to most parts of Lanka, we left Colombo to the Bandaranaike - International Airport (CMB/VCBI) 5hours prior to Departure as there was news going around that roads leading to the airport was inundated by the severe weather, also with FR24 having shown a couple of flights being cancelled for no given reason.
Taking a chance was not in my books since we had an onward connection awaiting us at Delhi to Jaipur International Airport (JAI/VIJP) and a tight schedule as we were booked on the following days flight from Kishangarh (Ajmer) Airport (KQH/VIKG) back to Delhi which meant that a delayed/cancelled flight or a missed connection would be simply chaos!
Reached the Airport well in time, Security was extremely fast and we proceeded to the Dedicated FlySmiles counter for Baggage Drop.
4R-ABL was on ground as per Flight-Radar24 which meant that we were more than certain to be flying on it.
However luck was on my side this time around! A delayed arrival of UL120 from Gan Island (GAN) in the Maldives resulted in a LMC which meant that an aircraft change to suit operational requirements had to be done resulting in the incoming aircraft from Gan would not have a long on ground layover but would be deployed on a quick turnaround flight to Delhi and back.
4R-ABL would now be sent to another destination and we were to fly 4R-ANA: The First Airbus A320neo of SriLankan Airlines as well as this being my first rotation on this aircraft type!
Thank God for LMC's!
Watch the entire FR here!
4R-ANA inbound from GAN as UL120
A Summary of today's routing:
SriLankan Airlines (UL/ALK)
Flight Number: UL195
Equipment: Airbus A320neo
From : Colombo-Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB/VCBI)
To: Delhi- Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL/VIDP)
Spotting the SriLankan Airlines fleet at Colombo Bandaranaike Intentional Airport
4R-ANA (Airbus A320neo
4R-ALH & 4R-ALS (Airbus A330-200)
4R-ALM & 4R- ALR
This was a special click ! Air Cargo and Logistics Management + Airport Ground Operations all in one
4R-ANA meant that we would have a Gate Change as well and not a bus gate which was sad since a bus gate in my opinion is still and always will be the best way to board an aircraft.
Boarding was prompt and well organized. Credit to the Ground Crew that were on duty who pulled off a very professional/efficient job
Today's Pax. load was somewhere between 60-65% with a few SriLankan's flying out to Delhi
Settled into 6A for the rotation to DEL
The A320neo was configured in the Standard narrow-body 3-3 configuration in Y (Economy) Class. However the seats were a bit too cramped up for my liking and I was indeed thankful to have a bulkhead seat as the additional legroom was a blessing!
Cabin interior was new and modern, definitely better than UL's older Y Class product on its A320CEO
Maintenance was the usual let down with the arm-rest;s having big open cracks on both sides as well as the IFE system not being as responsive as they should've been with a few passengers complaining about it in this regard. My IFE worked fine though, however the in-flight map wasn't working either
Take-off was on time and we were up at cruising altitude in a few minutes
SriLankan Airlines being SriLankan Airlines!
Does anyone know why UL's has IFE at the back of this J Class Seat?
Menu's were available on the IFE system but were also handed out in printed form which was a nice gesture from UL unlike some airlines that handed out hand-written menu's on Business Class
The selection was good for a medium-haul flight and I had high expectation for SriLankan Catering on this flight as they had revamped over the last few months and I was looking forward to having a good meal
However, Sri Lankan Airlines didn't fail to make a blunder! This time by racially profiling me as a Hindu
Special Meals were as always distributed before the normal meal service commenced and I was asked if I had pre-ordered a Hindu Meal (HNML) where as my OneWorld Frequent Flyer program automatically allocates a Halal/Muslim Meal (MOML) along with my booking.
I declined having ordered such as was asked if I had changed my seat as I had "Definitely Ordered a Hindu Meal if I was sitting at 6A"
Another crew member too decided to join in and I made sure that they understood their mistake and accepted the tray of food as our national carrier's catering was Certified and met my dietary requirement.
SriLankan Airlines systems were honestly messed up! Imagine a Hindu meal being served to a Vegan
The HNML consisted of Saffron Basmati rice along with Carrots and peas with Chicken being my protein, accompanied with the same starters and desserts that were on the menu.
Taste-wise it was definitely above average and met my expectations
The meal confusion was probably the only negative point of this flight along with the under-performing IFE system.
I then took some time off to watch a movie to kill a few hours as I was lost in terms of location
Somewhere over India
Sri Lankan Airlines New Economy Class Cabin
Most seats at the aft cabin were empty with many having their very own little "business class" seat and stretching out for a nap
Landing was on schedule and baggage claim was one of the smoothest I've experienced in India to date
Wouldn't hesitate on choosing UL to Delhi in the future!
Stay connected for my next review where I'd take you through the Arrival and transit at Delhi - Indira Gandhi International Airport.
It'd definitely be a much needed heads up especially if you're planing on flying to/from Delhi and having to transfer between terminals
All-in-all it was a above average flight and one of my longer flights on Sri Lankan Airlines (as I visit South India very frequently) The service and the catering were very good and I'd certainly recommend UL over Air India on the Colombo- Delhi Sector.
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Comments are welcome!
That'd be all for now,See you in the next takeoff!