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My positive DEL departure experience on Sep 22

My positive DEL departure experience on Sep 22

Old Sep 24, 08, 3:18 am
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Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: LAX, SAN, ORD, MAA & COK
Programs: AA EXP 6 MM, AC, DL (MM) & Lifetime SC; All Airlines 10+MM, Hilton Diamond;too many others;
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My positive DEL departure experience on Sep 22

It looks like major improvements have been made at DEL airport and for through baggage transfers to international connections when flying on 9W.

The baggage handling of the return trip:
My itinerary was an AA ticketed business class RT LAX-ORD-DEL-MAA-DEL-ORD-LAX (on 9W with AA code share numbers for the DEL-MAA-DEL segments) and a separate ticket locally purchased ticket in India for the COK-MAA 9W return flight to connect to the above return portion from MAA to DEL. The COK-MAA being an ATR flight with limited carry on space I checked one bag at COK on the COK-MAA 9W flight and informed the agent at COK of my connecting 9W/AA flight at MAA. The agent pulled up my AA itinerary and tagged the bags COK-MAA-DEL-ORD-LAX. To my pleasant surprise the bag was automatically transferred by 9W at DEL from the domestic terminal to the AA check in area at the international terminal and it was waiting there for me to identify it to the AA personnel. I was glad I did not have to deal with picking up the luggage at the domestic terminal and then transferring it to the international terminal. I removed the baggage tag at the checkin counter as I had planned on taking it on board as cabin luggage and I told the agent about it and she updated the reservation record to indicate that it was not checked baggage any longer.

The transfer from domestic to international terminal at DEL:
8:00 PM. This was also a pleasant surprise as there were only four passengers waiting for the transfer and a bus was already waiting to be boarded for the transfer. From the time I went and registered at the counter for the transfer to the DEL international terminal and departure of the bus it took all of 5 minutes. I was informed that there is a transfer bus every 20 minutes. It was air conditioned and fairly comfortable with a luggage area inside the bus at the back. The journey took about 15-20 minutes.

Entry to the international terminal:
8:20 PM. There were several doors open for passengers and I did not notice lines longer than 3-5 persons at any of the entry doors. I used the entry door at the far extreme left as there was no one in line there. From the time I got off the bus to the time I went to the check-in area to identify my checked bag it took all of about 1-2 minutes. There does not seem to be a separate pre check in screening process for checked baggage as it now appears to be done in-line with check in.

First Class check in counter:
Approx 8:25 PM. There was no one in line ahead of me and so the AA check-in process was also very quick. I was issued the customary invitation to the shared lounge by the AA agent and I made the comment that it was really a punishment sending passengers to that lounge. The agent smiled.

Immigration::
8:30 PM Several lines were open with not more than 1-2 passengers at any line and several of the counters had immigration officers but no passengers. I went to one that was open and the formalities were completed in 1-2 minutes.

Toilets:
From past experience realizing that the only mens toilet in the shared lounge would be not the best place to visit I checked out the toilets in the waiting area past customs and before the security check in area. To my pleasant surprise they were very clean. It took me all of 20 seconds to decaffeinate the 9W coffee at the urinal.

The pre-security waiting area:
I walked around the area after immigration and before security check-in and found areas closed off for construction. The place looked much cleaner than in the past and there seemed to be additional waiting areas with comfortable chairs. I noticed that the lines for security screening were fairly small with no more than 2-3 passengers in any line.

The shared lounge:
Approx 8:35: This continues to be the only blemish of my return trip. The lounge was crowded and only a few vacant but randomly located chairs. There were some passengers sprawled out and sleeping on some of the sofas. I helped myself to a light snack and then had some mango juice at the bar. I waited in the lounge until around 10:30 PM and decided to go to the boarding area assuming that the security screening lines would be long at that time because of several departures around 1:00 AM

The security screening:
This was also a pleasant surprise as there were only very small lines with 2-5 passengers at the most in any line and some screening lines having no passengers. The process was quick and I was through in 1-2 minutes.

The boarding process:
The flight was not full and so the waiting area at gate 10 was not as crowded as in my past trips. The boarding process started an hour early with economy class passengers being screened first. They were held up on the jet bridge after a very thorough screening which included an examination of all carry on baggage, a body search, shoe removal, examining the sole of the shoes and examining the sole of the feet of passengers wearing socks. I suspect that the extra thorough screening was a result of the terrorist attacks in DEL the previous week.

J & F passengers were then asked to go through the screening process after which they were led past the waiting economy passengers on the jetway into the plane. The economy passengers were then allowed to board.

In the past when I have boarded an internationally departing flight from DEL or BOM there is an immense sense of relief on entering the aircraft and sitting down just after leaving the usually chaotic environments in India. This time I was disappointed that I did not feel that way and I feel cheated for not having had that feeling of relief .

DEL Departure, ORD arrival & connection to LAX: The flight left DEL on time and arrived at ORD very early. FEBO was not follwed as the flight attendenat said that everyone one would get their choices because of a light load in the J cabin. Because of our early arrival into ORD we had to wait for about 40 minutes until the immigration folks woke up at 5:00 AM. I was through customs and immigration in about 10 minutes. The longest wait in line for the entire trip from COK to LAX was the 15 minute wait for the train at the ORD terminal to take me to the AA terminal 3.

The connection to LAX was at 7:00 AM and the ORD FL opens only at 6:00 AM. I went to the AC instead and picked up my email before my connection to LAX.

Overall experience for the return trip via DEL: Yes there is a bright shining light at the end of the tunnel that leads to DEL

Last edited by ROW2Aisle; Sep 24, 08 at 5:33 am
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