Review of Air India flight Kolkata Mumbai in Economy

Airline Air India
Flight AI676
Class Economy
Seat 22F
Aircraft Airbus A320neo
Flight time 02:55
Take-off 13 Aug 18, 09:25
Arrival at 13 Aug 18, 12:20
AI   #105 out of 115 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 83 reviews
jish.b
By SILVER 1342
Published on 8th February 2020


Here we are then, in the final part(s) of the summer 2018 trip back home. So far, it involved an E175 from Fargo to Dallas, followed by a memorable flight on American's 777-200. Turkish Airlines' two 777-300ERs were next, with their own 77W from MIA to IST being a hit, while the KQ leased 77W was alright too. Then came the first A330 flight, the 9W A330 from DEL to BOM, followed by my first flight in the Airbus A320neo, a missed connection which led to a long layover at DEL on to CCU.

I got to try out Thai Airways, Thai Smile, Cambodia Bayon & Bassaka Air in quick succession. This was followed by two more A330 flights (PNH-BKK and BKK-CCU), bringing up the A330 tally on this trip up 4 so far.

INTRODUCTION


Now then, would you be surprised if I told you that I originally planned on taking AI21/AI102 the wide bodies on CCU-DEL (787) and DEL-BOM (777-300ER, that continues on from JFK), and then cancelled it? Because that’s exactly what happened. The third time on an AI 787 CCU-DEL that I booked on, and I cancelled it because I make bad decisions. Little did I know that this would turn out to be an outstanding decision. Had it not been for TG's equipment swap or this last minute chickening out, this trip would have had 6 777 flights, instead of just the 3 that happened.

FLIGHT DETAILS


Instead, I decided to take the direct flight: Air India was the cheapest among the FSCs (seeing as UK was via DEL, and I’ve taken 9W on this route way too many times) - AI676 being the morning flight, a flight I have taken in the past. This time however, it wasn’t on an A319, but instead on an A320neo. Score, should’ve just booked this one in the first place and not did the entire Vistara thing. Hindsight!
AI676 CCU BOM 13AUG18 0925 1220 A20N

AIR INDIA OPS ON CCU-BOM


Air India operate two flights between Kolkata and Mumbai, the one in the morning in a plane based in Mumbai (as evident with the AI6** flight number), and one in the evening with a Kolkata based flight number (AI7**). There used to be a flight via Hyderabad, AI618/619, the BOM based airplane would do BOM-HYD-CCU-HYD-BOM, but the HYD-CCU-HYD part no longer exists. More on this later.

ONLINE BOOKING


I did a mobile booking for this one: suffice to say, it was quite bizarre. I got it to work, but it seemed rather inefficient. I settled on a free seat, 22F. More towards the back, but I did not want to pay for it. A ticket was emailed to me just fine, in addition to it being on the phone itself. Thankfully, I was able to get a refund for the cancelled AI21/AI102 ticket too.

AUGUST 13TH 2018 - ADIOS, HOME!


The plane would depart Mumbai at 0645 as AI675: I eagerly waited to see this pop up on FlightRadar24 before heading out to the airport. VT-EXH, a 0.7 years old A320-251N would take me to Mumbai: the youngest Air India plane I would fly on! Anticipating a comprehensive check in security, I took no chances and headed out pretty early.

Perhaps some of the more impressive fleet transitions I could think of: remember when Indian Airlines (and then Air India) predominantly had the double-bogey Airbus A320s? That's all been phased out, to the A320neos. There's 27 of them.
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CCU NSCBI looking empty -
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CHECK IN & SECURITY


I was at the counter for 0748 hours, check in was pretty quick. With just over 1.5 hours before departure I headed for security, and the lines were unsurprisingly long. Took a solid 30 minutes.
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Boarding pass
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I was airside for 0824 hours, 1hr06min to departure.
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SPOTTING


They had some doors open that help ‘expand’ the domestic section: swing gates opening in to the international part. I got as close as I could get to the Emirates 777:
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In the international part, looking east/domestic
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Domestic was bustling though - with all major airlines have at least 2 flights at this time.
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India's 3 biggest low cost carriers
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GoAir now have A320neos than A320ceos
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AirAsia India is struggling to find it's place in the ultra-competitive Indian skies. Siliguri bound I5 582.
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AI776: a Kolkata based flight number, but does a Bengaluru - Kolkata - Bhubaneswar - Hyderabad routing. A320neo, of course.
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Northeast bound A319
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Guwahati bound G8 532, Imphal bound 6E 707
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Curious, I noticed that the gate AI401/21 usually uses was occupied by an IndiGo A320. Even more interesting, the Air India Dream)liner went and parked all the way at the Hajj Terminal. Something suspicious, perhaps? Well, looked like a delay for the flight to New Delhi.

VT-ANT has arrived from DEL as AI401
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I haven't mentioned Jet in a while have I - we'd race the 737-800 to Mumbai, that one operating 9W472. I have this flight twice before, once on VT-JLH and then VT-JLJ.
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BBI/HYD bound
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So, here's what happened then! As I mentioned, cancelling the AI21/AI102 ticket was vindicated by a news report the same evening.The headline: Dreamliner windshield cracks on Delhi-Kolkata flight, plane lands safely & grounded
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A DELAY LOOMS…


Speaking of delays, I kept a close track of AI675: VT-EXH wasn’t meant to touchdown until 15 or 20 minutes after it’s scheduled arrival time, then another 10 minutes of taxiing, so I was looking at a bit of a delay. The good looking A320neo docked at the gate at 0918 hours, about 25 minutes late: we only had 12 minutes to departure. Someone else realized this, and instantly assumed it would be a 1hr delay for this flight. Hah, lack of trust in the ground staff’s efficiency then, hmmm…
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A minute before departure time, the inevitable delay announcement came: a 30 minute delay. Nothing major, in my opinion: I did not have any connections to make myself, but I hoped a lot of this would be made up on the turnaround and the flight itself (despite being a West bound flight…). This however did not stop people from lining up at the gate itself.

Midst of an efficient turnaround
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BOARDING


Boarding was called about 15 minutes later, and I was in line 19 minutes past departure time, and onboard 22 minutes past departure time: 0952 hours. They crew were as welcoming as they could be - everything seemed to be quite rushed on their part unfortunately due to the delay.
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12 business class seats looked uninspiring, to be frank. These planes are destined to do reasonably long international flights (hovering around 5 hours), I would not be happy for the price paid. Satisfactory for a domestic flight, I guess. Back of the (Air)bus, it was fairly standard. Full flight though - this was not the case the last time I flew on an Air India narrow body, it was pretty empty. As I mentioned before, even that was on AI676.
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DEPARTURE


I took my seat 22F. Everything went quick from here. SUPER quick. Just 7 minutes of being onboard and doors were closed, we were ready to go.
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1001 hours, a 31 minute delay. No time was gained on the ground, but kudos to the folk working tirelessly to get the plane going - it felt fairly quick. The other full service flight at this time, Jet Airways flight 9W472, was already gone, on time.

Anyway, we pushed back and the engines, like the first NEO flight, took quite some time to start up. I also noticed the Air India 787 in the distance…. suspicious! Anyway, a manual safety demo was done, and the crew started to secure the cabin. This is when one of the flight attendants noticed a wary & nervous first time flier: she reassured her that everything will be just fine, and that she need not worry about the flight, enjoy it. It is these little things that go a long way :)



Delhi bound Vistara & Jet Airways
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Not sure where VT-JLJ was off to...
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It was a fairly short taxi to Runway 01R - behind the Emirates 777! Had to hold short for an IndiGo A320 to arrive, and we were all lined up, ready to go at 1014 hours, 49 minutes behind schedule.
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TAKE OFF


Once again, the sounds that I’d usually associate with on a 777 showed up on the tiny A320neo and it really threw me off haha! We were up in the air for 1015 hours, to some bumps as we turned west/southwest. Predictably, through the climb even before flaps were retracted, someone decided to get up from their seat and the crew had to make a passive aggressive announcement, rightfully so.
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INFLIGHT


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A pretty annoying whistling sound started to come up from the back galley and it remained for quite some time. I suppose it was nothing major, so that’s nice. Climb up to 36000 feet was pretty smooth after the initial bumps, usual announcements were done too. There was a leak from the overhead storage a few rows ahead, and the passengers cooperated with the help of cabin crew to put up a temporary seal. Hmm, first the hiss from the back, and now this.

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Seeing as Air India only has a vegetarian option to serve on domestic flights, service was done pretty quick. I had a meal tray in front of me just 13 minutes in to the flight.
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It was pretty underwhelming if anything. There was a cheese sandwich, ketchup, the entree and a pretty slim chocolate bar for dessert. The entree was a vegetarian cutlet, a kachori, and paneer (cottage cheese). I was most excited about the paneer but there was this really inedible after taste to it, so I was pretty unhappy. Oh well, after all those great meals on Air India the streak did have to come to an end at some point… Tea was alright though.
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Did I mention that someone had spilled either tea or coffee on the seat back, and that it wasn’t clean? No bueno. I did appreciate how much quieter the NEO was compared to the A320 and of course B737, I just need to see how much quieter the MAX is, if I get the chance to at all.
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Safety card
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Cabin
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A bit of drama onboard as someone lost their ID in the lavatory. No one seemed to have claimed it, so I guess it was from a previous flight and that they were separated away from it. Oops! I spent the rest of the time looking at the magazine and catching up on some sleep real quick.

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A QUICK END TO THE FLIGHT


With a flying time of 2hr45min announced I expected some holds before arrival. However, we were only 1hr53min in to the flight and I woke up because I felt the nose of the plane dip a little. Announcements followed in succession. Crew secured the cabin for arrival, and surprisingly, we were cleared to final pretty much right away! Huh, despite the delay and padded schedules, I guess we barely made our time slot!

There was some weather in the vicinity, as evidence by rain, clouds and bumps on final.
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Thane Creek
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Touched down pretty smoothly at 1224 hours, a mere 4 minutes behind schedule.
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Taxied all the way to Terminal 2 - my eyes were peeled out for all the Jet Airways planes as the news reports that had just come out were concerning. Who even knew it would get even worse….

Me when I took this flight: I hope Jet pulls through
Me currently: oh shoot
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NEO NEO
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Docked at gate 42A and engines cut, it was only 1232 hours, 12 minutes late. An on time arrival, nicely done!
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I thanked the crew who were very appreciative of my words, and headed out, disembarked just fine, be me taking pictures of planes making my way to the baggage claim. It was another flight done just fine, before the two long international flights ahead of me.

Thank you, EXH!
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BOM T2 arrivals
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Ope, I guess I'm not going anywhere!
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India's 2nd busiest airport hmm...
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Despite a delay on the first flight, VT-EXH would head to New Delhi as AI863, and wonderfully on time. This is what the rest of it’s rotation looked like:
August 12th 2018:
HYD BOM AI51 2200 2325

August 13th 2018:
BOM CCU AI675 0610 0855
CCU BOM AI676 0930 1220
BOM DEL AI677 1335 1550
DEL ATQ AI16 1655 1800
ATQ DEL AI115 1900 2010
DEL BHO AI437 2100 2220
BHO DEL AI438 2300 0025+1
See more

Verdict

Air India

5.9/10
Cabin4.5
Cabin crew9.0
Entertainment/wifi6.0
Meal/catering4.0

Kolkata - CCU

7.6/10
Efficiency7.5
Access8.0
Services7.5
Cleanliness7.5

Mumbai - BOM

8.3/10
Efficiency8.0
Access9.0
Services7.5
Cleanliness8.5

Conclusion

There is something different about the atmosphere on the Air India 787 flights I've taken. Unsurprisingly, the A320neo did not have that. I think it was a missed opportunity for AI to upgrade their offerings in domestic J and short/medium haul international routes. The un-clean cabin did not help either. The food was borderline awful, which is very unlike Air India despite the vegetarian only offering. Kudos to the ground crew at CCU for a quick turnaround, and to the flight crew for taking care of first time fliers and finding solutions to the leak from the overhead. A strange flight to be honest, but that's okay. With the 25kgs baggage allowance, I went through without a hitch.

Information on the route Kolkata (CCU) Mumbai (BOM)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 5 reviews of 3 airlines on the route Kolkata (CCU) → Mumbai (BOM).


Useful

The airline with the best average rating is Jet Airways with 7.3/10.

The average flight time is 2 hours and 50 minutes.

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2 Comments

  • Comment 541514 by
    Jett Tyler SILVER 194 Comments

    Nice review! The Air India A320's have a better business class cabin than the offerings here in Europe! Sounds like you had a nice itinerary across your India trip.

  • Comment 541876 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 5332 Comments

    AI definitely isn't alone in the missed opportunity on the 320/321neo...it seems all any carrier has thought about is just cramming more seats in with the space-flex options on the neos. A few carriers have installed cool cabins, but that's mostly been for long-haul, like La Compagnie and TAP. It's pretty lame that AI didn't even put in power in Y...not even a USB port. And the cabin looks so worn for a new plane...those seat covers are awful--they look like they're peeling off--cheap velcro I guess. Disappointing all around!

    Thanks for sharing!

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