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On the cusp: DEL-BOM on IC863, BOM-DEL on AI660

 
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sumantra
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Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Posts: 4482
Location: New Delhi

PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 9:11 am    Post subject: On the cusp: DEL-BOM on IC863, BOM-DEL on AI660 Reply with quote

On the cusp: DEL-BOM on IC863, BOM-DEL on AI660

This Trip Report is available at the following URL:
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic11160.html

...and this was an official trip to Mumbai, around the cusp of
the common code for Air India. My itinerary was as follows:

Set out 26 Feb (Sat) for Mumbai from New Delhi
IC 863 (AI 863): Air India (A321) [Seat: 10F]
New Delhi (DEL) - Mumbai (BOM)
[05:00 pm - 06:55 pm]

Set out 27 Feb (Sun) for New Delhi from Mumbai
IC 168 (AI 660): Air India (A321) [Seat: xx]
Mumbai (BOM) - New Delhi (DEL)
[05:00 pm - 07:00 pm]

I was to set out from Delhi the day before the common code for
the erstwhile Indian Airlines (IC) and Air India (AI) was to be
enforced. I was excited to set out on what would be possibly be
the last few days of the IC code, and come back on an AI-coded
flight. I had already taken note of the changed flight numbers
for the flights, and was looking forward to this. I wasn't too
sure about the dates - was the change supposed to take place on
the night of the 26th? In that case, I would anyway be travelling
on the last day of the IC code being used, not the first day of
the all-AI code being enforced. The build-up to the common code
operations was quite exciting for me. The signs were quite
positive. The Flying Returns website was closed `for maintenance'
till 28 Feb. When I tried to do a web check-in for IC 863, the
new IC web check-in page did not work. I tried the next best bet
- do a tele check-in. I asked the agent as to why the web
check-in was not working. He told me that it was a software
change in all the systems. Well, that was positive. On AI.net,
there were some very informative postings from member @madnish
about some details of the common code enforcement, and that the
Air India website now mentioned the common code, and parts of the
AI and IC websites had been changed, to reflect this fact. Further
enforcing the enthusiasm was at IGI Airport's T3. When some
irritated (unnecessarily, in my opinion) passengers complained
about the time needed to check-in, a booking supervisor
cheerfully came up to them, and told them that this was because
check-in agents were adjusting to the new system, which would be
in place the very next day, or so. All this was pleasantly
surprising.

Now, this was a journey on possibly the most-travelled metro
route. So, what was to be exciting about it for me?
This was to be my first journey on the Delhi Metro - I was to
travel from the Delhi University to Connaught Place (officially,
Vishwavidyalaya to Rajiv Chowk), and from there, take the
newly-opened Airport Express Line to T3. The Airport Express Line
had opened to the public on Wednesday 23 Feb, and today was
Saturday 26 Feb. Already, there has been a nice report on this
line, by AI.net member @AI1. I was looking forward to all of
this. The first leg of my journey was getting on to the train at
the Vishwavidyalaya. I noticed a clean coach, with a fair amount
of standing space. The liked the coloured LED indicators for the
stations on the route, with the terminal station clearly shown,
along with very informative bi-lingual announcements about each
station coming in, which side of the platform it would fall on,
along with conveniently located LED boards with the same
information. I was standing close to the end of a coach, and I
was pleased to see four powerports for laptop and cellphone
charging, two on each side. This is a thoughtful feature!
The coach got incredibly crowded at the Kashmere Gate stop, and
getting out at Rajiv Chowk reminded me of my 6 years in Mumbai -
travelling in the locals during the rush hour, that too sometimes
with luggage. This time too, I had a backpack, and a medium-sized
bag with me. The overall service was pleasant - there were Metro
employees at the stations - ready to help passengers, with a
smile. When I asked the lady at the ticket counter at the
Vishwavidyalaya station as to whether I could buy a ticket
straight to the IGI Airport T3, she smiled, and gave me detailed
directions, and even told me some history of the Airport Line
operations - well, there were not too many passengers in the line
there at that time (1:40pm). the signage has improved after the
first few days' operation at the Airport Express Terminal, and
there were employees cheerfully guiding passengers around - even
at the ticket counter. I felt pampered, and was pampered, too. An
agent took the hundred rupee note from my hand, put it in, and
told me that the ticket was a plastic token, which would come out
at the bottom, along with the change. Would I need a receipt?
Yes, please, thank you. That also came out from the machine on
selecting that option. The station was not complete - the City
check-in counters were not yet ready. The X-ray machines were
standard at each leg of a Metro journey - a nice safety feature.

The Airport Express train was much like the Hong Kong version, as
has been reported earlier on this forum. The coaches are very
similar, with a moving map showing the progress of the train on
the route. I clicked the following picture, before two agents
came over to request another passenger not to take pictures, as
this was not allowed.



Taking a cue, I also followed suit. The coach was not much
crowded (unlike the normal Metro coaches), with a smattering of
passengers to Dwarka, passengers, and those just wishing to check
it out. There are no powerports on the coaches, however. The
overhead sections of the track were a treat to watch, as the
ridge came into view, till the train went underground again, as
it neared the airport. On getting out, I saw a section still in
construction, but the signage was quite clear and aplenty, and
there were people around to help. Here is a scene just at the end
of the Airport Express terminal pathway.



This is the path connecting this to T3, a dedicated internal
path. This leads up to the escalator which leads one to the
regular entrance of T3.



On entering T3, there was Air India (IC) signage all around, on
the checkin desks.



After the check-in and the security check, I was airside. There
were some beautiful flowers on display.



IGI Airport's T3 never ceases to amaze me. Almost every time,
there is something nice, new or refreshingly different. Some new
stall, some new exhibit, some new happening (in this case, the
IC-AI code merger), and some interesting happenings around.
The other side of the flowers had a giant cricket exhibit, with
the One-0day World cup just around the corner.



There was a Hyundai exhibit just at the end of the ramp, which
bifurcates into the Air India part, and the private airlines'
part.



Here are three of Air India's CRJ-700s lined up - the `masked
bandits'.



The `masked bandits' from another angle, with a Kingfisher ATR-72
in between.



An Air India ATR-42 made its way to the terminal. Note the haze
in the background.



This place turned in, and here was our steed for the DEL-BOM
trip, parked in. This was VT-PPA. More about this plane, later.



We boarded well in time. Here is a wing view.



The PTVs: all around me were in perfect working condition.



An interesting sight for me - an A320/321/319 nose cone was
loaded onto the cargo hold of our plane.



Here is our neighbour, moving out for take-off. This is possibly
the Kolkata flight, IC 264.



The take-off was on time. The visibility around IGI was not
fantastic, though there was some spring sunshine, but there was
some foggy envelope. Not conducive to taking some pictures, that
too with a bad-quality cellphone camera. Well, of of this was
before the take-off, surely. Captain Ashok Sharma was in command.
The steed for the day was to be VT-PPA - the first 321 for the
erstwhile Indian Airlines! This one has the extra whitish
fuselage, possibly because of being painted in the new `Indian'
livery, and then changed to the lovely Air India `Flying Swan'
livery. The aircraft was in good shape. Internally, it had been
designed with the old sobre Indian Airlines colour scheme in mind
(which had its own charm)- the dark blue seat handles to go with
the dark blue seat covers, the grey-and-dark blue colors on the
plastic components of the cabin. The seat covers had been
changed to the new ochre-and-red colours of the new Air India
scheme. Ah yes, the patterned wallpaper of the old Indian
Airlines scheme was also there. While looking like a slight
mismatch, I was pleased to see that all PTVs were working, ditto
for the lights, and overall, the cabin was in good shape.
Overall, the plane had come in and docked at exactly 4pm for this
5pm flight, and boarding was announced at 4:30pm. The cabin was
clean, spic and span. I was a bit disappointed to see the loads
around 75% in economy (Y), having seen near-full flights on most
of my previous inter-metro business-hour flights. But 75% is not
too bad for a busy sector with numerous flights - the DEL-BOM
one.

And of course, the discussion has to gravitate towards the
stomach, and matters, thereof. The food.
Precisely.
As soon as the seat belt sign went off, I saw the cabin crew
getting up, and soon, wonderful smells starting wafting through
the cabin. A young gentleman was the cabin crew who attended to
me - he was talking to everyone with a smile on his face. Right
from offering me an extra sugar and milk sachet for my coffee
(how did he guess that I liked my beverages to be a bit more
sinful than the ordinary?), to handing me an extra water bottle
(was I looking that parched? No, not today! I had actually taking
The Wife's (`TW') advice (which came with a bit of gentle
persuasion, should we say, or have I put it a bit mildly?) and
actually applied some cream around my visage - well, face and
hands, to be precise. Usually, my skin almost makes slurping
sounds when cream is applied - just as the parched earth soaks up
a long-due shower in the desert. (No comments about whether I had
taken a shower that day, or whether the thought of a shower had
deserted me completely.) I immediately took a liking for
him. Back to the food! The snacks had a tasty veg patty, and a
very soft and tasty chicken tikka. This went with sauce, and a
very tasty green chutney which had coriander and sour cream, not
curd/yogurt. The dessert took the cake - literally, as well as
figuratively. A generous slice - a brownie, which was soft and
moist, and sinfully garnished with lots of dry fruits on top.
That topped off a great snack!

Captain Sharma made a very smooth landing in Mumbai, and I was
quite pleased to have come in on the main runway, 27-09. While
exiting Terminal 1A, I found this display of a few Honda
motorcycles.



I had a colleague accompanying me on my return leg. As we entered
Terminal 1A in Mumbai, I was pleasantly surprised - yes, Air
India was now on a common code! Here is a Departures board,
listing all Air India (AI) flight numbers, among others. Terminal
1C, no guesses!



Now, what was to come was a first for me. We were at a bus gate,
which meant that our plane was at a remote stand. I was looking
forward to this, as this would give us a nice view of the CSIA,
Mumbai (BOM). And what a ride this would be! We went to the
extreme end of the secondary runway (14-32), made our way past
the erstwhile Indian Airlines hangers (there was an A330 there at
one end, looking resplendent in the evening sun! The other end
had a 321.) We also crossed the old shell of an IC 320, a lot of
which had been taken apart. Then we turned towards the cargo
apron (where we saw a Saudia Cargo 743 and a lovely FedeX MD-11)),
and then the International apron, with a Qatar 330, an Air India
77W, and an IX 738, among others. We went to the extreme end of
the airport close to the Air India hangers - another first for me!
I have never been to all these parts of the airport before
(except for a bus ride from an AI 310 `Pamba' to the
International terminal) - and to see all of it at one go. There
were two planes there - a 319, and a 321. the first sight of the
321 presented a familiar sight - VT-PPA again! Here is a wing
view.



We took off into the skies, and the snack service was on quickly.
The menu was exactly the same as the one on the onward journey.
The dessert was the brownie again, but a different variant, which
was drier, and had a crisp coating. There was not much in the
IFE: the video part, at least, since I had seen the programmes
before. I put on the headphones, and listed to the classical
music channel, and then the old hindi film songs one, while
working on my laptop.
We had a feather-touch landing at IGI Airport, Delhi - we hardly
felt anything. Both my colleague and I lined up at the exit to
express our appreciation to the captain, which he readily
acknowledged with a very warm smile, and an equally warm
`thank you'.
That concluded a nice trip - thank you for reading this!
Cheers, Sumantra.
---
Links to my previous TRs, in reverse chronological order:

6. DEL-BOM on IT308, BOM-DEL on IC166
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic10986.html

5. DEL-MAA on IC439, MAA-DEL on IC802
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic10809.html

4. DEL-PNQ on IC849, PNQ-DEL on IC850
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic10510.html

3. DEL-MAA on IC429 (A321), MAA-DEL on IC7602 (CRJ7)
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic10401.html

2. DEL-NAG-NDC, NDC-BOM-DEL on G8
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic10169.html

1. IGI T3, AI 314 DEL-HKG and AI 311 HKG-DEL
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic10018.html
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me111993
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Posts: 3210
Location: MAA/AMD

PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lovely TR! Thanks for posting Smile
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abhigopal
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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 12:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seems like you had a good trip and a nice tour of Mumbai Airport. Thanks for sharing
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Spiderguy252
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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 1:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great TR once more! Smile
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shivendrashukla
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Joined: 21 Dec 2006
Posts: 1347
Location: Mumbai, India

PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2011 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another Nice TR from you Sumantra.

Cheers
Shivendra
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rutvij
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Posts: 1390
Location: Skies of Fire!

PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2011 10:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Always look forward to your TRs. Very Detailed..esp the Food part! Smile

Pity I don't get much time to read though and post some of mine! Embarassed

And yes, the MIAL Bus Tour is something to die for, specially with the Domestic and Intl Terminals so far apart. Took my friend on a Flight of Fantasy (his first) about 2 years back on BOM-HYD AI-140 Connector. The A/C 321 'Papa Echo' was parked at the SpiceJet Apron near 1B. The long Bus Tour then became the best part of the journey! The Bus started off T2 C end, passed under some 2-3 A33Xs, some 77Xs and a 744 (LH). All the mid-night EU/US Deps (Very Happy) and an awesome 77W Push back and Start-Up. What wonderful Acoustics of the Monster.


Last edited by rutvij on Tue Aug 09, 2011 10:41 pm; edited 1 time in total
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sri_bom
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PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 7:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As always another great report Sumantra.

Wish you could have taken photos of the various aircrafts on your MIAL bus tour of the airport.

Sri_Bom
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sumantra
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Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Posts: 4482
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PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 10:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks a lot for your kind words, Rishul, Abhigopal, Varun, Shivendra, Rutvij and Sri!
Rutvij, I miss your trip reports: I remember that your AI 77L experience laid the base for my first journey on the same type. I had asked you regarding `the best' seat for taking pictures, remember?
Abhigopal, Rutvij and Sri: yes, I know about the no-tarmac-photography rule, but I have seen quite a few fellow passengers using their cellphones for the same. The bus on this wonderful ride was a bit fast for my entry-level camera phone to be effective - moreover, I was too amazed and dazed at the views to contemplate taking pictures. I was simply amazed at the route the plane was taking, and was describing each plane to my colleague. The views were just amazing: especially the Qatar 330 and the Fedex MD-11, from that close, and at that angle. The Wife (`TW') once tried to take a picture of a crow seated on the wingtip fence of an Air India A321 at a remote stand at BOM, but was politely requested by a member of the Air India ground staff to start taking pictures once we were seated inside the plane, not right then.
Cheers, Sumantra.
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rutvij
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 10:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sumantra wrote:
Thanks a lot for your kind words, Rishul, Abhigopal, Varun, Shivendra, Rutvij and Sri!
Rutvij, I miss your trip reports: I remember that your AI 77L experience laid the base for my first journey on the same type. I had asked you regarding `the best' seat for taking pictures, remember?


Yes I do remember! And I wrote that TR, taking in cues from Spiderguy252 aka Varun and Nimish! Smile
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jasepl
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 7:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice report again, thanks.

Is the airport station a regular stop on the Dilly metro, serviced by the regular trains, or does one need to get on a dedicated airport train?
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 10:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow Jason - you really picked up an old one. Thanks for your appreciation, I must say I like your writing style, ready wit, and descriptions. As regards the Delhi Metro - this is a dedicated separate train, on a dedicated separate path (the latter, I guess so). I mentioned this in the report, but I guess I may not have made it too explicit. The Airport Express starts from a connecting path on the Rajiv Chowk (Connaught Place) station, onto a new track. If you have taken the Hong Kong Airport Express train, this is no different. Very impressive!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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