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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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