This was my fairly recent IC trip, and the review's going to be short, like the duration of the flight.
* Three of us recently flew one-way BOM-AMD on Indian Airlines (yes, I know, they've merged and all, but why taint poor IC?).
* I booked the tickets using Citibank's Premier Miles website (to take advantage of bonus points & Rs 1,500 discount vouchers):
* Went to ai.com to add the itinerary to my profile and I was able to select seats (and change my selection as often as I liked.
* I must have got over a dozen texts and emails from AI reminding me of my flight, starting from 3 weeks before. It's either too much (AI) or to little (Jet).
* The day before the flight, online check-in worked effortlessly and the rather professional-looking boarding pass was printed.
* Traffic was light for some reason, so we got to the airport by 16h15, nearly 90 minutes before departure.
* No queue to find a spot to stop the car.
* No queue to enter the terminal.
* Not much of a queue to check-in; of the three check-in aisles, only half of one was operational.
* They didn't re-print the boarding pass onto their card stock, by the way.
* And no queue at security, who, by the way, didn't ask for the home-printed boarding pass to be stamped by the airline.
* Since we had time, we went to the food court which is just past security and has a pretty decent selection of outlets, everything from pizza to dosa to beer to chop suey to khandvi.
* Bird's eye view of 1-C from the food court.
* The other two wanted a smoke, so I went into the crack den too, to savour the second-hand (since I've given up).
* Boarding was from the old 1-A, so we set off towards our gate.
* View from the upstairs of the downstairs section of 1-A (I presume it's for the bus gates?). What a marked difference in décor and brightness between old and new.
* Our flight had a boarding bridge. Looking around, the only airlines using boarding bridges were IC and Indigo. Jet, of course, are too cheap and clueless.
* I expected the plane to be a 319, but it turned out to be a 321. Not sure if it was a sub or a planned change. But the flight was full.
* Boarding was efficient and we entered a typical AI plane : tally but clean, and sporting a bodily function-inspired décor. And lotes
seem to have also decided that “Amdavad javanoo”
* We pushed back and after a quick taxi were airborne 5 minutes ahead of schedule.
* The plane had IFE screens that were switched on and throwaway Chinese earphones in the seat pocket. Here's the map:
* Though it was November, they still had the October magazine in the seat pockets
* Inside the magazine, a Jet-inspired timetable, that showed the on-the-hour BOM-DEL flights have been around for a while:
* Unlike the nasty AI, the IC crew were not enormous, lazy, old or khadoos. They were young, proportioned, efficient, helpful, happy and smiling.
* They handed out the snack pack (peanuts, imitation Frooti and tissue paper in a ziplock). And also came around offering water / tea / coffee to anyone who wanted any. Of course, they had to poke people awake if they were sleeping “Your snack sir!”. I suppose some things won't change.
* Before you knew it, Amdavad Pochvanoo
* We landed nearly 15 minutes early.
* Where, again, we had a boarding bridge.
* Where, again, we saw Indigo at a boarding bridge.
* Where, again, Jet were too cheap and clueless.
* We had no bags, so were were off and out and in the car in nothing flat.
A few random things:
- Overall a perfectly good job by Indian Airlines. I'll give them a 9 on 10, all things considered.
- AI/IC really need to do something about their schedules, at least to Ahmedabad. On a busy route such as BOM-AMD, they have four flights a day : 2 am, 5 am, 6 pm and 6.30 pm. And only one of those is a domestic flight; the rest are those dumb "connectors" operating out of bloody Sahar.
- Our IDs were checked only once : by the CISF wallah at the terminal entrance. And that's hardly a valid check at all. After that, no one asked to see any ID, not even once.
- When we got to check-in, a bit of drama with a woman was just ending ahead of us. When it was our turn, the agent apologised and said the obnoxious woman was an Air India employee, was flying for free anyway, and must have come back 10 times demanding something or the other. "These Air India people think we should pay them to fly." I'm not surprised at that level of entitlement.
- One of my companions was returning AMD-BOM the next day and wanted to change his flight, so we figured we'd go to the ticket desk after checking in. Turns out AI's ticket desk cannot be accessed from inside the terminal, and, of course, the CISF pandu wouldn't let us out. How dumb is that?
- Nice as it as to use 1A at Santa Cruz, it led me to think that Jet really should look into the possibility of swapping. It makes sense on a lot of levels – not just the fact that IC are nowhere near big in BOM as they used to be and 1B is a right royal mess. Doing so can enable Jet to offer a lot of things at little – if any – additional cost. Just like Sahar, where AI still hog up an entire section, even though they have barely a handful of flights remaining.
But then if it comes down to improving the passenger experience – even when at a minimal cost – Jet's not interested.
- I always thought AI's self-service boarding pass looked rather professional. Perfectly formatted and sized to fit on a standard sheet of paper (unlike the blue and yellow mess, with the relevant information etc. Turns out other airlines have the exact same thing too (this is from someone else's report on TAAG):