Old Apr 27, 09, 6:10 pm
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: London
Programs: BA
Posts: 2,361
Pune from sleepy back water to an International hub (Part 3)

Check-in at Delhi
Having arrived far too early on Saturday, I decided to set off a little later on this trip. The traffic was heavier on a Monday morning and I began to realise that I was in danger of arriving late. I hate being late for a flight and on this occasion my trip to Pune was so short that missing my flight would have been a disaster. I rang Jet Airways from my taxi and managed to check-in over the telephone.

On arrival at the domestic terminal there were massive queues for all of the Jet desks. I made my way to the Premiere counters and found myself in a very slow queue of people, most of whom were concerned that they would miss their flight. I reached the front of the queue and explained that I had already checked-in over the telephone; this elicited no response and the agent continued to tap away at the computer. A few minutes later and I was told to go and speak to the supervisor. Whilst my e-ticket had my name spelt correctly, the computer had my surname with an extra character in it and this meant she couldn’t check me in.

I went over to the supervisor who looked harassed at the number of people with ‘issues’ that she had to sort out. After a few minutes of being ignored, I found someone and asked them to help out. She wandered off and came back with someone else’s boarding card. She then asked if I needed some help, when I explained that I had just spoken to her, she was adamant that I hadn’t and passed me on to someone else! I explained my predicament and within two minutes I had both boarding passes and was escorted to the front of the security queue.

DEL-BOM: Seat 1D – Jet Airways Business Class on a 737
I glanced at my watch and saw that it was now 15 minutes before our departure time. Considering that I had just over an hour to connect in Mumbai, I began to worry about making that flight. Boarding seemed to take ages (I drank several glasses of water) but the door was shut 30 minutes after our scheduled departure time and we taxied out to the runway almost immediately thereafter. Thankfully, the schedule padding meant that we were due to arrive in Mumbai on time. My seat mate in 1G could see that I looked a little nervous and asked why. I explained my concern and he chuckled telling me that he had the same connection and had done it many times before. I would be fine.

The mainstay of Jet’s domestic fleet is the 737. I would discover on this trip that they have three different interiors ranging from very old to moderately old with the occasional aircraft configured with new leather seats and IFE. The later are also used on Jet’s international routes. This flight was on an aircraft with moderately old interior which was still pretty comfortable.

Shortly after take-off the crew distributed the breakfast menu. It was a plate of fruit to start followed by a choice of an omelette with a chicken croquette, or a traditional South Indian breakfast. I chose the omelette which was soft and tasted like an omelette – a rarity for eggs on a plane. The croquette was crisp and the chicken inside, moist.

We arrived in Mumbai on time and parked some distance from the terminal. There was a separate bus for Premiere class passengers and once full, the doors closed and we set off for the terminal. As we passed the runway, I noticed an Indian Air Force helicopter landing near to the runway. Our bus came to an abrupt halt and a fire engine thundered past. We sat their for almost 15 minutes and my nerves began to fray again as I wondered whether I would make my flight to Pune. Eventually, we moved off an arrived at the terminal building.

The ‘chopper’ incident
It later transpired that I had witnessed part of this:

BOM-PNQ : Seat 2C – Jet Airways Business Class on a 737
I walked through the arrivals lounge and into the departure area. Jet use the new domestic terminal at Mumbai which is a far cry from the crumbling structure that I passed through some years before. My passage through security swift and complete, I headed straight for the gate and was amongst the last few to board the aircraft. This morning’s flight to Pune was full. As I settled into my aging Premiere class seat, I was offered a choice of water, fresh lime or juice. I took a glass of water and it was collected from me a few minutes later as the doors were shut. We sat on the ground for almost an hour without being told why. I drifted off to sleep, waking as the engines spooled up for take-off. It was later clear that the ‘chopper incident’ had caused a short ground stop and our delay was due to the backlog in planes taking off.

The flight to Pune was short (25 minutes) and uneventful. The seat belt sign remained on during the flight and crew seated throughout.

Check-in at Pune
The following day, I was back at Pune airport on my way back to Delhi via Mumbai. Pune airport is a permanent hub of activity served by all of the domestic carriers and Lufthansa who operate an all J config A319 to Frankfurt. I had telephoned Jet on arrival the previous day to see if I could get the issue with my name resolved prior to this flight. A very helpful agent put a note on my PNR which was picked up at check-in. The check-in agent wrote out a lounge invitation and invited me to wait there rather than at check-in whilst she printed out my boarding cards.

The lounge at Pune is a restaurant that has been split into several sections; one for Jet, another for Kingfisher and finally a space marked ‘severely delayed passengers’. On arrival at the lounge, you are handed a bottle of water and there is a small buffet of sandwiches and crisps to pick at.

The check-in agent came up to the lounge and handed me both boarding cards. My flight to Pune would be called for boarding shortly and so I was advised to make my way to security. The security check was swift (I paused briefly to s...... at a sign that read ‘Gents frisking area’) and I collected my bag. As I walked away however, I noticed that the tag was missing. In India, you have to have a hand baggage tag on your bag so that it can be stamped to prove that it has been screened. I turned to one of the security and asked them to re-scan my bag. What followed was a short conflab between three of them as they debated whether I would have to go through the security process again or just my bag. In the end it was decided that as I hadn’t been out of their sight, I was spared but the bag would be re-scanned. Bag and stamped tag in hand, I made my way to the boarding area and on to the aircraft.

PNQ-BOM : Seat 1A – Jet Airways Business Class on a 737
Once onboard I settled into my seat. The FA offered the usual choice of soft drinks before telling me that I was the only passenger in the Premiere cabin this afternoon and so I could sit wherever I wanted to.

This was one of Jet’s newer 737’s fitted with leather seats, footrests, IFE screens and a greater seat pitch.

The IFE was not switched on for such a short flight, but I did have time to try out the seat fully reclined during our very brief cruise (circa 10 minutes). The total load on the flight was less than 30 and we all got into the single bus that came to meet us.

BOM Jet Airways Lounge
I walked out of arrivals lounge and through the passageway into the departure area. The agent at Pune had been unable to give me a lounge invitation card for Mumbai and so I went to a check-in desk where one was provided. When Emirates issued this award ticket, they were unable to get me on to the first available flight to Delhi which left an hour before the one I was due to catch. I asked if I could get onto the earlier flight and was told that it would be Rs 3000 (circa 50). As it would only get me to Delhi an hour earlier than my scheduled flight, I declined and headed for the lounge.

The lounge is an open plan area on a platform above the departure area.

I grabbed a diet coke from the fridge and took a seat in one of the work booths shown above. A few minutes later, one of the waiters came over and asked if I would like some biriyani as they had just put a fresh batch out. I hadn’t had lunch so I took him up on his offer. It was quite tasty, not particularly spicy so as to cater for a wide audience but most importantly it was fresh.

After lunch, I walked over the windows (which were in dire need of a clean) and took a couple of photos of the apron.

BOM-DEL : Seat 2C – Jet Airways Business Class on a 737
I was approached by a member of the lounge staff and invited to board the flight to Delhi. It was the usual bus to the aircraft and scrum to get off and up the stairs. This afternoon’s aircraft was a moderately old config plane. The Premiere cabin was half full, everyone had an empty seat next to them. The last two passengers to board were Jetlite pilots in uniform. They took their seats at the back of the cabin.

I had a couple of glasses of watermelon juice before we taxied to the runway. Shortly after take off the crew distributed menus, which described the meal as a ‘light snack’. This comprised a full size main course followed by dessert.

The keema was hot, spicy and had the texture of gently simmered mince. It lacked that awful burnt edge that you can so easily get with mince. The pao felt like it had been marinated in ghee for a week or two and I managed no more than a small mouthful. Sadly, the coffee cake was dreadful and I stopped after a single small bite.

I was full and a little sleepy from doing nothing so I reclined my seat and had a short nap. I awoke as the Captain told us that we were descending towards Delhi and that as we would be landing on the new runway, we should expect a long taxi back to the terminal building.

The taxi was indeed long, in part because we stopped several times to give way to other aircraft. It was almost 40 minutes from wheels down to arriving in the terminal building. I got a ticket from the pre-paid taxi booth, watched several people cut in front of me in the line outside, and eventually made it back to the house.

Last edited by baggageinhall; Apr 27, 09 at 6:22 pm
baggageinhall is offline