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A winter evening with AI: Lengpui, wide bodies and many pics

 
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dan
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Joined: 18 Dec 2012
Posts: 52

PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2017 9:17 pm    Post subject: A winter evening with AI: Lengpui, wide bodies and many pics Reply with quote

Greetings, dear A.netters!!
This trip report features flights on my winter break to BOM, from AJL. Even though they might seem very repetitive by now, I hope you like it. I’ve finally included a brief report on Lengpui, the exotic little tabletop airport tucked into the North-eastern corner of our country. This TR features three legs on Air India, from AJL, all the way to Mumbai via DEL.

Background

Come December, it was time for my winter break, back home in Mumbai. There were many options on the table for the onward flight.
1. The cheapest option was on Air India with a layover of 12 hours+ in CCU, to catch AI 676 the next morning.
2. The next best option was a connection on AI 773, which departed only 20 minutes after AI 712 landed in CCU. I didn’t trust AI enough to get me there on time (call it past experience), besides it was the last flight to BOM out of CCU.
3. Finally at the same cost, there was a very interesting routing via DEL, which had reasonably short layovers. Another obvious reason to choose this routing was the aircraft type. The Newark flight AI 191 was recently modified to fly from DEL with a stop in BOM. With a departure at 21:00, it was the perfect connection for AI 701 (on the B788) from CCU to DEL.
Spicejet and Jet Airways fares were obscenely hiked up, and Air India was the only remaining happy choice.

Leg 1:
Air India-712
VT-SCC- A319
Seat- 2F
Arrived 7 minutes before time


These are a few pictures I clicked the day before I flew out. My place in AJL has a view of the airport. Being in the hills, we are at an altitude above the airport (in a way).

The landscape with runways 17-35 in the distance:


Just that morning, the runway was nowhere in sight.


The A319 arrival that afternoon.


It’s a sharp drop just a few feet later.


The ATR departure after the back-track.



The sun set a while later.

Flights out of VELP are always a delight. The AI flight to CCU via IMF was recently separated into two dedicated flights. This was a welcome sight, considering availability and cheaper tickets on the A319. This also meant that there was a likelihood of us arriving at CCU on time. Sumantra sir and other esteemed members of the forum had been asking for pictures from Lengpui. This being my last semester in AJL, I realized that it was finally time to do it on this trip.
The terminal is really small with the check in counters o one end and the arrival belts on the other. AAI has recently set up banners advertising for advertisements in the terminal. With Spicejet operating to AJL and 9W starting a full B738 to DEL via GAU, there was some increased activity in this place. This will be apparent from the pictures below.
Christmas was a week away. There is a viewing gallery upstairs, which is open for public viewing.


A small place for refreshments up there.

The SG Q400 was on the tarmac then. VT-SUR in the blank white livery.


The chopper operated by Pawan Hans arrived, soon after which the SG plane left for GAU.




The chopper was towed away by an SUV that the pilot drove home later. (I might have mentioned this in an earlier report).

VT-SUR leaving:

We went ahead for security check and the B738 from DEL arrived soon after. This was followed by VT-SCC, my ride for the day.
The security hold.


The aircrafts are just a walk of 500 feet from the building.
It was only at boarding that I saw the ATR from CCU on the tarmac. The tarmac had turned into a jogger’s park, with the three flights around at the same time.

The terminal from airside.

My ride:

Departure right behind the 737, holding short.

We departed from runway 35 and turned southwest towards CCU.







The cabin was rather quiet and cozy upfront, with some Indian classical music being played. The snack service started almost immediately after the seatbelt sign turned off. These are some perks of sitting ahead.
The snack tray good enough for a 50 minute flight.

After we landed at CCU, it took a while to get through security check. There was a trial going on, where the airport authorities had done away with baggage tags for a few days. It would be great if this was implemented all the way. As the CISF personnel frisked me, I saw the characteristic Air India tail without AI written on it. The 787 made its way slowly towards gate 16, where it is usually berthed.

Leg 2:
CCU-DEL
Air India-701
VT-AND: B788-Dreamliner
Seat-31A
Arrived 20 minutes late.


I sat close to gate 22 for a while because the enclosure like area near gate 16 becomes rather crowded and claustrophobic when this flight is to depart, with close to 300 passengers near the gate.

Some snaps before the sun set and reflections appeared on the windows.
There were a lot of extra long Boeing 737-900ERs at CCU then.



My usual ‘guest from across the border photo’:





Another long one:



And another one:



A lone Indigo plane at a major Indian airport is a very unusual sight these days:





A longer one:



We boarded late for some reason or another. I had a small argument with a fellow passenger who sat next to me. There was a couple who were seated in the seats next to me. Since I boarded towards the end, this lot had already become comfy on my window seat. This is the nth time this has been happening to me on this very flight. I asked them to move, so that I could seat myself. The arrogant man that he was, he asked me to sit on the aisle seat and that they would move after the plane took-off. When I insisted further, he created a ruckus. He asked me rhetorical questions like, “Is your name written on this seat? Is this your father’s plane? Will you die if you don’t get this window?” Fortunately the F/A intervened and got them a window in the last row. One might call it silly, but I am very stubborn when it comes to my window. This is the reason why web check-in is almost a norm these days.

The aircraft was showing its age already. My Seat back wouldn’t stay upright, and the entertainment console would no longer stay in its socket. The captain announced that the delay would be covered in-flight. We departed north from runway 1L and headed to Delhi.



ATR 42, a rare sight in India now:




The snack tray was a major disappointment for me. There were two bland roasted pieces of paneer with a veg puff and corn ‘bondas’. The dessert was great though.





The landing in DEL was as smooth as a feather. We taxied really fast towards the international wing of T3 and got bussed to the domestic part.

Leg 3:
DEL-BOM
Air India-191
VT-ALT: Nagaland- Boeing 777-300ER
Seat-31A
Landed on time.


The delay for this flight was not covered by the time we landed. This left me close to 30 minutes for my connection. AI-191 to Newark departed from the international wing and there wasn’t much time left. DEL had many international flights scheduled then. There was an EK 77W, an AI 788, a Thai 777, a United bird from the US, a Cathay A333 and our flight to BOM and our flight to EWR.
I got really tensed when I saw the line at security check. There was no way I would clear security for an hour at least. It was my mother’s idea to join the queue for first class and business class security check. It was a completely brilliant one because the CISF person probably didn’t know the difference and let us through.
As we settled into the 6 year old beast of a 777, the captain announced a delay of 30 minutes because of passengers held up in immigration and security. We smiled at each other when we heard that.



The leg room was awesome again, but the bird was old. The tray table was broken and had to be supported when open. There was a similar flaw with the entertainment console.

Great leg room:


A Dreamliiner next to us departed as the safety demo started on the IFE screens. We had to wait for an EK 77W to depart before us.



The mood lighting was on full swing:


I loved the nose cam being broadcast during takeoff and landing. The last time I saw such a feature was on one of the Kingfisher A321s.


The GE90-11B start-up and take off was pure symphony. It is sheer might and power, that thunders down that asphalt.
The dinner was simply great. An offering from TajSats. Malai kofta and mixed vegetable curry with basmati rice. Curd and salad along with Gaajar ka Halwa for dessert.

I spent the rest of my time watching a movie called ‘The Devil wears Prada’, starring Anne Hathway. We didn’t have any hold time in the airspace over Mumbai and made an approach over Juhu Beach, into CSIA Mumbai (Or should I say CSMIA).
The power plants after de-planing:

Air India- Bihar-



After a distance from VT-ALT, we stopped for the SQ A380 to push back and to avoid it’s jet blast. I stood at my usual spot in the bus, near the driver. The driver saw me taking pictures and said, “ Agar hum aage bade, to pheke jayenge”. I smiled at him and took snaps of the humongous ugly whale.

As I walked through T-2 CSIA, I heard a girl’s voice singing ‘Just go to hellll….Dil, Just go to Helll” on the PA system. A song from the recent Bollywood release, ‘Dear Zindagi’. Quite a welcome into Mumbai!! I saw a few tourists feeling really awkward, as they walked into the arrivals behind us. They were apparently from Zurich, arriving on the LX flight. CSIA should select their playlists keeping welcome curses in mind.
The following morning, I got to know in the newspapers that the aircraft couldn’t take off with all the luggage that night. This was because of fuel constraints in place due to partial runway closure. The poor souls would have gone through such an ordeal in the winter without their luggage.

Conclusion:

The product on AI has improved tenfold over the past year. The Star Alliance branding is thrown on your face everywhere, pilots emphasize on Indian-ness of the airline, saying ’Jai Hind’ after announcements, the luggage allowance is great for students and the food is evergreen. Air India is a great choice to fly these days. While I noticed a stark difference in the attitude of Cabin crew operating the international flight, I wouldn’t want to sit through the ordeal of flying 15 hours on VT-AND or VT-ALT, with the seat accessories crumbling all around me.
I would really appreciate your comments and suggestions. I hope you liked this one.
Until next time,
Regards,
Dan
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sabya99
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Joined: 19 Dec 2011
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2017 5:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a nice photo journo!. Keep posting more and more. Good job!
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2017 10:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a lovely trip report, Danny!
IT is very nice to see another lovely trip report from you after quite a while.
Please...nothing gets repetitive, more so, when it is from an exotic place (for most of us, such as Aizwal!).
Once again, a lovely introduction of the planning process.
And yes...lovely pictures! The airport runway pictures, the glorious sunset, and much more. The AJL airport looks neat and well-maintained, and the viewing gallery is really nice! It must be a wonderful feeling to be out in the open, spotting aircraft movements at an airport.
The CCU spotting photos in some bad lighting came out well.
`The Argumentative Indian' is a very apt term for such passengers, the type you described. I have had numerous such fights, and stuck to my guns about not giving my chosen seat up. This applies to trains as well, where I have had a history of fighting even with young kids, for my coveted view from the window.
A lovely description of the journey on the two wide-bodies.
Thank you very much, once again!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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ameya
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Posts: 3560
Location: Pune,Maharashtra

PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2017 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thoroughly enjoyed seeing the pics from AJL

Pristine & rear !

A319 / B788 / B777 - Enough to decide the routing !
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avbuff
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Posts: 5016

PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2017 8:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just love the pictures of AJL! .... breathtaking ..

Of course lovely pictures of the variety of Indian airlines that has been captures.

Thanks for sharing!
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jbalonso777
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 12:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice report, and great pictures!

Why am I not surprised there was that type of passenger on the DEL bound flight Rolling Eyes

I'm a little confused here - did you get bumped up to J on the A319? Since 2F is a J class seat....
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dan
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Joined: 18 Dec 2012
Posts: 52

PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2017 2:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks a lot everyone!
I'm glad you loved it.
The VT-SCA/B/C trio birds, are all economy planes. Much like the older double bogey A320s.@jbalonso777

Regards,
Dan
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Jaysit
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2017 5:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A 6 year 777 with seats crumbling and tray tables falling apart?

Bloody disgrace.
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The_Goat
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2017 10:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jaysit wrote:
A 6 year 777 with seats crumbling and tray tables falling apart?

Bloody disgrace.


The airline can only do so much.

I think it is the loutish, baap-ki-jagir crowd that can sometimes be found on AI flights that is to blame.

Thye should stop using the 777s and 787s on Gulf routes right away.
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I don't know which is the more pampered bunch : AI's widebodies (the aunties) or Jet's widebodies (the planes).
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Jaysit
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2017 12:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The_Goat wrote:
Jaysit wrote:
A 6 year 777 with seats crumbling and tray tables falling apart?

Bloody disgrace.


The airline can only do so much.

I think it is the loutish, baap-ki-jagir crowd that can sometimes be found on AI flights that is to blame.

Thye should stop using the 777s and 787s on Gulf routes right away.


The same crowds can be found on EK, EY, QR, WY, etc, etc, etc.

Their planes don't look like "Your Jhopda in the Sky." Their maintenance staff fix things when they break.

If you're in the business of transporting passengers, be they princes or paupers, you factor in wear and tear. You fix it, and you don't make excuses.
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dan
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2017 7:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear members and readers,
When I write these views on the state in which these aircrafts operate, I must also point out that the fault almost entirely lies with the misdemeanour of passengers travelling on board. Much like the 'angry Indian passenger' mentioned in this report, I had the misfortune of encounters with the 'notorious kids' and the' burden laden aunties'. Parents don't seem to give a damn about their kids dancing about destroying parts of the plane around them, as well as their fellow passenger's sleep. These parents do get particularly offended when the F/A has to say something about all this.
Similarly, we always have those passengers who have already topped their baggage allowance and carry those truckloads of cabin luggage with them. They rest it on a seat or tray table while waiting for the captain to turn off the seat belt signs at the ramp after landing, successfully break either.
Air India can only do so much, can't they?
Regards
Dan
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Jaysit
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2017 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dan wrote:
Dear members and readers,
When I write these views on the state in which these aircrafts operate, I must also point out that the fault almost entirely lies with the misdemeanour of passengers travelling on board. Much like the 'angry Indian passenger' mentioned in this report, I had the misfortune of encounters with the 'notorious kids' and the' burden laden aunties'. Parents don't seem to give a damn about their kids dancing about destroying parts of the plane around them, as well as their fellow passenger's sleep. These parents do get particularly offended when the F/A has to say something about all this.
Similarly, we always have those passengers who have already topped their baggage allowance and carry those truckloads of cabin luggage with them. They rest it on a seat or tray table while waiting for the captain to turn off the seat belt signs at the ramp after landing, successfully break either.
Air India can only do so much, can't they?
Regards
Dan


Again, these same demographics fly all the other carriers serving Indian destinations, including the other major Indian international carrier Jet Airways.

And although wear and tear is expected, it's nowhere as endemic or par for the course as on Air India.

Making excuses for an airline funded by your Indian tax rupees doesn't help. It only normalizes the state of affairs. And despite the good Indian food and service on board (I've never had a bad Air India FA), AI maintenance is rubbish.
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 8:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sanjay: over the years, I have flown Air India on flights connecting with other airlines as well, often with the same set of unruly co-passengers. And guess what...a magical transformation takes place, the same passengers now get well-behaved, and do not play truant. This is the most depressing part.
Of course, Air India's maintenance is not to the frequency which we would like it to be. For the IFE units for instance, the maintenance is done at both BOM and DEL. They could indeed step it up, and I know of cases where Bureaucratic Government rules have kept AI Engineering from getting the requisite supplies well in time.
It is not that AI cannot do it.
In fact, one of the best experiences of the past 3 years or so, has been to fly on the old double-bogied A320s, specifically those based at DEL. Someone seems to take some extra care of these elderly birds, and it was not unusual to find the birds spic and span from the inside: and yet, that includes no grime marks and no tired upholstery. The A332s also got the same treatment when based at DEL.
Sadly enough, my flights with the elderly birds this year have been a bit of a disappointment: I have seen the grime marks re-appearing.
Sad.
However, the overall upswing in the airline has been like never before, since the dark period ended in the latter part of the early 2000s.
And that, gives me hope.
Cheers, Sumantra.
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dan
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 02, 2017 10:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I completely agree with Sumantraji on the 'Parivartan phenomenon' that happens with our public. It's remarkable.
Regards,
Dan
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 10:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dan: damn it, it happened again on AI 101 in the early hours of today.. I was on board. a 3 hour delay. I will forward something I typed on the WA group, which has some details. Disgusting behaviour.
Cheers, Sumantra.
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 05, 2017 9:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The cause has been extensively reported in the media. Thanks to Rakesh and Ameya Sir for sending me a link, I found a few others as well.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/mumbai-model-held-for-crying-bomb-just-before-boarding-flight-for-delhi/articleshow/57457560.cms
http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-prank-gone-wrong-model-arrested-for-bomb-scare-at-mumbai-international-airport-2342184
http://www.indiatvnews.com/news/india-model-arrested-for-bomb-scare-at-mumbai-international-airport-371164
http://www.aviationindia.net/2017/03/mumbai-model-held-for-crying-bomb-just.html
http://www.newscrunch.in/2017/03/mumbai-model-arrested-after-joking-about-bomb-jail-%E2%80%93-faces-three-years-jail.html
http://www.inuth.com/india/model-held-at-mumbai-airport-for-playing-bomb-prank-before-boarding-flight/

Now, how is this relevant to the matter discussed in this thread?
No, not the foolish woman's antics. It is that of my fellow passengers.
They took it out on AI and the hapless crew. Thankfully nothing broke inside the plane. Irate passengers bad-mouthed the crew. Abusive language was used.

This is what I had posted on the WA group immediately after landing at Delhi:
Passengers started abusing the crew, demanded dinner to be served immediately (is a meal ever served when the time on the ground is uncertain: could be short or long?), & treated the seats roughly. We got delayed due to long security lines at BOM: it was busy to the seams, it simply cannot handle so many full flights. A few delayed pax couldn't clear immigration: their luggage was offloaded. Close to the Jari Mari spotters point, we turned back abruptly, & parked at a remote stand for security reasons. My guess is either a prank by a disgruntled passenger (remember the 9W bomb scare 3 days back?) or a sudden threat, or a pax-luggage profirma mis- match, detected late. (I have gone through this once on CX at BOM). I think the SOP is to get the plane to get back to the gate. AI officials came on board & perhaps inside the cargo hold as well: I was drifting in & out of sleep). We set out 3 hours late. The crew did not disclose the nature of the security risk, for obvious reasons. The entire NA bank was delayed at DEL for connecting pax. And of late, AI's loads on the domestic DEL-BOM sector on the two B77W flights has been very good. Why vent one's anger on the crew, & the already tired hardware (trays, armrests, IFE)? One passenger threatened to open the door. Disgraceful
Cheers, Sumantra.
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