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Farewell to the Air India Jumbo (Exclusive)
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karatecatman
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 12:44 am    Post subject: Farewell to the Air India Jumbo (Exclusive) Reply with quote

FAREWELL to the AIR INDIA Jumbo (Exclusive)

(Acknowledgements: Air India & the crew of Air India AI864.)
October 15-16, 2009

It’s been a persistent rumour for sometime, and one which the die-hard Air India fan has strived to ignore. But it’s now cold fact.
Then, one fine day, in early October, came this message, from Airliners-India member, Ojas. “It’s there in the systems. Could you confirm it from your end? There are others working on this as well.”

Nariman Point wasn’t very forthcoming at first. There are more important issues now -- the financial health of the organisation on the one hand and the urgent steps needed for the Maharajah to fly high again, on the other. Aircraft phase-out is now cold-blooded reality. No send-offs, No water canon salutes. No marigold festoons. You just smile and think of the memories. Now, it's all about how far ahead the competition is, fuel costs, dollars to be saved and rupees to be made.

But we didn’t give up. Almost every day, emails were shot off and calls made, during lunch and tea break. Still no information. But persistence pays as we let it be known that there would definitely be a “solid group” wanting to fly the last jumbo flights.
The glitches? Getting leave. Boss trouble and uncertainty about schedules.


Air India's 747's shrinking footprint or flightprint. From Atlantic workhorse to regional carrier. The options open to us.

May be that worked and something clicked.

Back came the message. “The what-you-call-last-scheduled passenger flights will be on October 12, 16 and 20th. There could be a possible last one as well on October 23. The routing will be on the pattern of Cochin-Calicut-Jeddah-Hyderabad-Mumbai and then Mumbai-Delhi-Riyadh-Mumbai.”
The segments we were to choose from were Cochin-Calicut; Hyderabad-Mumbai and Mumbai-Delhi.
This too was backed up by a few more sources in cyberspace.


What we choose. Great team work by AI-nutters.

The list grew slowly and it was clear that this would be a moment in history. The shareholders? Air India, the 747-400, the crew, and airliners-india.net.
The goose bumps erupted like a mad rash. Mobile bills grew longer, we chatted late into the night. “Who would be there?" "What are we planning?" "Nariman Point said this.""The fare is too expensive." "Will customs object to this lens? Ask if we can take photographs." "There now seems to be hardly anyone." "Are you sure they will fly the 747?" "Dude, it may be an A310." "What if there's a snag?" "Let's fly all the days." "Cochin-Calicut is too short. It's 30 minutes. The wheels will be out in 10 minutes" ... it's 3 am now." "Ciao.”
The million questions and queries were eventually sorted out. Step by step. Nariman Point too got into the groove.

This would be the last jumbo flight of the Maharajah's.
Airline schedules were scanned and the bookings made. But the constant niggling worry of office bosses denying leave loomed large.
At one stage it was just 50:50. Only some would be lucky.

Then the group split. Some were to fly on October 12, on Air India AI-821 Mumbai-Delhi-Riyadh, citing Air India’s likely "Houdini act" of changing aircraft type at the last minute, with the rest deciding to keep October 16 as the main day (AI 864) and October 20 as the ‘if-its-there-we'll-fly-it-flight’ (AI 864).

The day drew closer. It was still uncertain for a few of us. The October 12 plans were modified.
We would all now fly on October 16! It would be a home-bound stretch and the flight time was adequate.
Once again the bookings were changed.
It was now, roughly, a mini-A-India regional meet.

Unfortunately, the core of the MAA Gang couldn't make it.

***

The Boss finally said yes the day before. KCM was at the Air India MAA office when there was a call from Ruts. "The ticket is only for ____. Is it an error? Get it checked.”

Air India's MAA station manager brushed it off as a display error, but this was Ruts' jackpot moment. Thanks to a software error, but one which was spotted in time by Air India, he was one of the lucky 500 web booking passengers who got the entire leg for a steal. Let's call it Air India's 'British Airways' $40 moment". And Air India decided to honour the tickets.
By evening the plans were final. Frantic SMS' sent. The Boss said he always had the option of cancelling leave. Diwali holidays had affected staff attendance.

The "Air India final flight team" from Mumbai was to fly in in two batches to Hyderabad. One was to reach earlier and stay in their own accommodation, while the remainder was to get in the evening.

And your's truly was to get in late evening by the last flight into Hyderabad. (Quite tense as the leading private airline's 737 went tech. After checking in at 7.30 p.m for STA of 2100 hrs, revised TD for this was at 2.30 a.m. which was then rolled back to 1.30 a.m. after a VIP passenger threw tantrums. The airline's airport manager was seen placating him but to no avail.)
(Team Mumbai was in Hyderabad already.) Finally, the airline’s spare aircraft was sent in to MAA from Bengaluru and we were on board at 1.10 a.m. A quick hour's flight and was at Hyderabad’s Rajv Gandhi International Airport.
A relief to get a budget B&B for a few hours nearby with internet and TV thrown in. Refreshed and filled in with stuffed potato poories, papaya cubes and orange juice, it was time to connect with Team Mumbai.

***

October 16, 2009
Air India AI 864

Air India AI864 was to touch down from Jeddah at 6.30 a.m., but the ocean-blue plasma screens in the check-in area were showing a revised time of 7.35 and ETA of 7.43.
The phone rang. “Where are you?”
“On level 1floor.”
“Okay, you’ll have to make your way up.”
Months of texting and now we were meeting face-to-face. First group was Vivek, Karan-ji and KCM.
… The engine roar carried into the building and we quickly made our way to a window. After checking with the screens we figured out that it was a Blue Dart 737.
We made our way to a bench, looked up some of the titles at the bookshop. The latest Booker titles weren’t in. No trace as yet of Team Mumbai 2.



Just before check-in and assembling.

Super light loads of a total of 423. Third to check-in!

We then decided to check-in. Air India ground staff were bright and cheerful. A quick check of the loads and it was almost like a ferry/charter flight. Inbound from Jeddah was 17 with 11 getting off, and just us boarding. That is 6+6 (us) +16 crew = 28.

Requests for windows were greeted with a smile. A formality. Customs forms handed out and we headed for security. The names on the master list were ticked off, the customs declaration checked and off to the scanners. CISF frisked us. Asked us where we were from and bid us a friendly ‘good day’.
Another engine roar carried into the building. This time it had to be the Air India jumbo.
Team 2 was still missing and as we moved to Gate 34A, we found that they were arriving. They had wanted to try and shoot the inbound jumbo (our ship) but had to settle for some other flights, they said marching in like three musketeers in white T-shirts.

Within a few minutes, the complete line-up for “Farewell to the Air India jumbo” was:
Vivekman, Karan-ji, Vishal Jolapara (VJ), Rutvij, Subodh and KCM. Now, the Men in Blue --- by strange coincidence, all had dark blue denims!!

As we moved into the empty metallic expanse of the airport, we were just among the handful of passengers to be seen. Soon, the great sight. Through the glass panes and from behind a massive pillar, the unmistakeable “Flying Swan” stuck out.


"Agra" in full splendour. Pushback for the old IA A320.

We rushed like madmen. As source said it would be, it was VT-EVA “Agra” and Air India’s first Boeing 747-400 to be refurbished, the ship that was to take us on our voyage to Mumbai.
The aerobridge was being connected and Air India-SATS ground staff were busy around the front cargo door. The nacelles gleamed like silver and the aircraft sparkled. The tricolor was proudly emblazoned above the gigantic lettering “Air India”.
This was the true “Your Palace in the Sky”.

During the next 25 minutes, the only sounds that were heard were our excited chattering and shutters whirring. Vivekman and Karan then broke off for a quick breakfast at the food court nearby for a thali of Idli, Sambar, chutney and hot coffee. The rest of us were busy recording the moments of the giant bird for posterity on its last scheduled passenger flight. Our “flight gift/memento” (courtesy VJ) was ready as well, wrapped in art paper and framed. We marvelled at how VJ got it in within breaking the glass.

“Announcing boarding for passengers of Air India flight AI 864. Please proceed to Gate 34A”. The minutes ticked by and we were still glued to the giant panes savouring the moment.

“Announcing boarding … this is the final call.” Air India staff were rushing around hunting for us. "Air India 864? Please rush." We quickly gathered our stuff and ran down the stairs. We marched down the aerobridge and then there it was. The door to “Agra”.

***
9.a.m.-11.15 a.m.


Warm and fresh cabin. The new interiors still looking new on the first jumbo to be refurbished. Boarding music at this point was flute and sitar fusion. Voice-over for the safety features was the legendary Rini Simon.

There was a whiff of lemon air-freshner and the mellifluous strains of Air India’s boarding music – sitar fusion. Cabin crew Ms. M and Ms. R clad in Ritu Beri salwars and saris greeted us. “Welcome”. We quickly found our seats and the crew exchanged glances. This did seem a different set, they must have thought to themselves. Chief purser Mr. N was near the galley and we went up and introduced ourselves. The other crew Ms HN and Ms D joined in.

“Where are you from?” They were taken aback to say the least. On seeing the “flight memento”, they got into the grove super quick. More crew joined in as they had a good look at the picture --- an Air India 747 just after lift off from Mumbai@VJ. ]
“You want a blanket?” Ms. D asked and quickly got out a blanket from the overhead bin and wrapped the frame in it. It was then placed back in the bin. At this point sari-clad cabin-in-charge Ms. AO walked up and was briefed. Soon her million-watt smile lit up the cabin and she promised us to handover our requests and logbooks to the flight deck crew.

The orange and yellow handloom design covered seats lifted the cabin ambience. The overhead air vents were in full blast. The thud below carried up as the ground-staff were busy in the hold. There was clatter in the galley and the lemon air-freshner added to the ambience. Everything gleamed. More crew joined in. They just couldn’t believe our mission – to fly one of the last jumbos!!

The jumbo’s cabin four-chimes sounded. The overhead screens played out screensavers that looked very National Geographic – a flock of birds in the sunset, a rainforest scene … boarding music was now santoor.
Ms. D gave out orange juice tetrapaks to us.
Four chimes again. Flightdeck cut in. “Ground staff to disembark. Crew arm and cross-check … all doors to automatic. Thank you.” Mr. N quickly sat down and wanted to know, in great detail, our mission.
Two chimes. One of India’s best voices was announcing the safety features of the Boeing 747. The screens played out 747 cabin graphics and another crew member quickly checked our seat belts.
“Please make a note of the overwing exits,” said the voice --- that belonged to the one and only Rini Simon (Doordarshan veteran), now Rini Khanna. Whoa! Air India! The Hindi announcement were equally top notch.
Time for the safety demo. Ms. M, Mr. W and Ms. S lined up in formation. As the lifejacket was being demonstrated, Mr. N quickly leaned over from behind and informed us that “that lady (Ms. S.) in front. Can you see? She was on ‘Konark’ when there was the fire. She was the first to initiate evacuation.”
Special flight indeed.
“The distance of 710 km to Hyderabad will be covered in 1-hour and 15 minutes.”
Two chimes.



Pushback began 22 minutes after boarding.

Pushback began. The giant wing shuddered as we rumbled back. The PW4056s spooled up and the overhead vents hissed in waves. “Agra” powered on. Not a very long roll. The Queen of the Skies waited for an incoming Kingfisher ATR and then moved to active.
There was no roar but a gradual acceleration. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the air vents sounded louder. Take-off began. The grass and tarmac sped past in a row. Gently, the wing began to lift. The wing surfaces were amazing to watch. The orange flared nacelles and the Indian Airlines part of the livery. were visible. A creek and groan.


The quiet power of the Pratts. 62,300 lbs thrust per engine and just after lift-off.

“Agra” climbed slowly. Right below, the Hyderabad landscape turned from cityscape to countryside. It was hard to believe that not so long ago, this was under water.
Villages and towns passed by.

Time to explore the IFE. The screens in Y were fine. And the IFE marked the interesting evolution of the Maharaja. From the lovely rascal who pranced around near the Eiffel Tower, to enjoining you to “try out my 747th wonder of the world”, he was now inviting you to try out the offerings of AVOD Thales i4000.
I decided to go touchscreen and forget the control module. It worked like a dream. “English or Hindi”, then moved on to numerous programming choices.
In the seat pocket, was a rugged little set of earphones with a single-pin. The Safety card and air sickness bag were comforting. The latest ochre toned “Namaskaar” beamed out from the clean and rigid seat pocket. It was hard to believe that the aircraft was in mint condition and this was Air India after all the horror stories on Skytrax that seem to particularly single out the jumbo.



Meal for the home bound sector.

Ms. HN appeared. She made sure all was well and handed out the snack tray. A cellophane wrapped cake, a mint sandwich and a tetrapack made in Saudi Arabia!!!



Feather touch. The Maharajah's offerings through perfect touchscreen.

In safe hands

Last time use.

The seat belt signs were off and time to move out. The crew were near the galley and wanted to know more. We chatted.
All of us were busy … to the bewilderment of the other passengers. They kept leaning forward to watch us. And as Vivekman put it neatly, we were mapping every square inch of this aircraft. Team2 was busy near First Class and talking to the forward crew. Karan-ji, Vivs and KCM were at the rear. Sunlight streamed into the cabin and the Weber seats reflected the rich colour heritage that is so much a part of Indian life. Rich reds, yellows and earth shades. Gone were the Calico wall panel motifs when Air India first inducted the 744 in 1993. The plain white and the refurbished cabin with the latest technology were supposed to put Air India in the top league. But it was all to come to nought in a short while.

The crew were busy at their workstations finishing the paperwork.


The final bow. In the spotlight! Your Palace in the Sky. The Maharajah down the ages.

The Maharajah bowed proudly from the doors. “Welcome aboard my Palace, savour the moment.” Bobby Kokka’s creation from a scratch pad was all set to be a part of history.
Some of the crew invited us over to the port side of the aircraft. We were passing through a patch of cloud. The orange of the nacelles reflected off the moisture.
The great crew shared anecdotes. They were a fantastic mix of veterans and the new. Had we flown the 777LR? The ice sheets over Greenland were a sight to be seen, they said.
"So you came all the way just to fly this flight?!!" "Sad to see this plane go." "Yes we began our flying career on this, said Ms A." "Such a lovely aircraft. So comfortable." "Yes. We finish Haj on this."


The Great Western Ghats.

We were interrupted out of this great moment when the seat belt sign came on. A bit of turbulence and the wing banked to the left. This part of India revealed its splendour. The terrace-like Sahayadris came into view. The great Western Ghats!
Green and clean air. We clicked and clicked. The crew pointed out to more of the landscape.

***

It began to dawn on us rapidly. We were close to Mumbai!
Seat belt signs on again. Flight deck on the wire to announce landing formalities. The crew checked the seat belts and went to their stations.
The Mumbai landscape came in in stages. The hills, the smog and the heat. The bustle and life of a vibrant metropolis. The home of Air India and the final stages of the life of an iconic aircraft type.
Down we headed. The wing surfaces revealed their characteristics. The air vents hissed. There was complete silence in the cabin. The Maharajah took back his inflight offerings on screen and made it clear we were to land soon.


Final touch down ... countdown to phaseout.

Sahar on finals. Ms. AO passed on the message that we could meet the flight deck crew after landing.
The runway was in sight. Lower and lower. “Agra” was seconds away from touch down. The wheels made contact. The wing flexed. We sped past Air India 747-300 “Shivaji” and grounded 747-400 “Konark”. Gentle deceleration and brakes. A creak and groan again.
We made our way to the aerobridge, past “Kerala”, one of the newest 777-200LRs, an SQ Cargo MegaArk and a 9W A330.
Dock-in and the PWs spooled down.


***

Air India ground staff at Sahar must have wondered where the passengers and crew where. The other passengers disembarked by the stepladder. VJ rushed back to tell us that the flight deck had agreed to receive the memento. We headed to the upper deck to J. The rest of the crew waited and joined in the banter. Karan-ji, Ruts and Subodh were busy. The door opened ... and Capt. B and Capt. M came out to applause. A brief speech by VJ and handover of the frame to the Commander who was a dead ringer for Field Marshal Sam Maneckshaw in every sense – speech and deportment. A hundred smiles, warmth and we thanked the crew for a truly super flight. The cabin crew mock lamented that there were no mementoes for them.
Massive applause rent the air. Ground staff had made their way in too and smiled.

We made our way down the stairs. Down the stepladder and into the bus with all the crew. For one last time we gaped at the jet. The classic palace windows a pale shadow of their former majesty, gleamed back. “Agra” looked like it was in shock. We too. No one said much. Only turbocharged Capt M reeled off anecdotes.

The bus turned the corner and that was it … We didn’t dare look back. No more second looks.
It was farewell for the fantastic Commander as well. “I go out with this aircraft”, he said. “I attain superannuation,” nostaligia flooding his eyes as he affectionately recalled the jumbo era.

Off the bus and into the terminal. We said our goodbyes to the wonderful crew for one last time.
And then to outside. To reality... to the taxistand.

Three cheers to Nariman Point, a huge thank you to the wonderful crew of Air India AI864, and the AI-nutters’ team for the joint effort.

***

Touched base with the_380 and Shivendra. Got back to MAA on a packed IA A320 flight. Air India on the rebound?

***
October 20, 2009, AI 864
Based on VJ’s inputs.

VJ, Rutvij and Nishanth did the very last October 20th flight as well, as AI 864 Hyderabad-Mumbai. The presence of a senior DGCA lady official doing a detailed evaluation had the crew on extreme edge. Loads were better with 70 passengers boarding for Mumbai.
Crew warmed up only at the end. Included chief airhostess who began her career in the 707 era. Aircraft was VT-ESP “Ajanta” with the new IFE. Disembarkation by aerobridge.

***

Farewell Great Bird!


-----------

Three jumbos to be transferred to the Indian Air Force and used for VIP flights. Air India to do the maintenance.

Remainder (Three) may be sold.


Last edited by karatecatman on Fri Oct 30, 2009 1:07 am; edited 1 time in total
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avbuff
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 1:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for a detailed trip report!!! I really really missed being with you guys.

The B747s passenger services as we post are history.
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747-237
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 1:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congratulations !
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HAWK21M
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 3:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fantastic report.Excellent pics.
regds
MEL.
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vivekman
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brilliant Trip Report, KCM! Smile

It was great to be a part of this historic flight. What a lovely aircraft and an equally lovely crew.

- Vivek

P.S. Great job on the almonds and the boarding pass Wink
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747-237
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 9:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

vivekman wrote:
P.S. Great job on the almonds and the boarding pass Wink


Those are KCM's nuts you're talking about !
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Spiderguy252
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brilliant report. It's a historic one for the forum, and will be read and re-read in the months to come. Good job, KCM!

That said, this is my 1000th post on this forum. Wink
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shivendrashukla
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 3:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent TR KCM. Too bad we couldn't meet up this time. Next time for sure we will meet.

Cheers
Shivendra
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Karan69
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fantastic KCM,

Thanks for giving words to a wonderful memory

Karan
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow - thanks for posting - you guys had a really super trip!

We need pictures....
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himmat01
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@KCM,

Superb report. Can't imagine AI without the B747s. Sad
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Phadnis
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a beauty of a trip report, KCM. Your original style! Thank you so much for sharing. Didn't you get any pictures of the flight deck?
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great One!!!

Do you have the pics with the crew?
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me111993
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent TR. Those a/c's look in great condition still!!!!
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AirIndia0001
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 10:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fantastic and Brilliant TR, KCM. Thanks for Sharing.
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karatecatman
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 11:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Ojas, Deb, Mel, Vivs, Varun, Shiv, Karan-ji, Nimish, Himmat, Phads, Haree, Me, AirIndia! Mr. Green

Deb, the nuts were from the galley. Wink

Phads and Haree, there was a request not to post sensitive pictures, and crew pictures.

Phads, touched base with you as well!!!
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 31, 2009 1:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks KCM, for this wonderful TR. The details were a pleasure to read.

**

AI-864 was THE BEST Flt I had on AI, next only to the AI 77L Flt last year. Things fell in place so well. If only i could Rewind and Play again. Sad We will miss the whinning on A4.


Posting some shots clicked by my friend, Subodh. Note that the Refraction Effect was pointed out by him. The FAs were delighted on noticing it.

Wing view


Blasting off 09


A special moment on a very Special Flight. Thank you, Subodh!


Also reposting Vivek's Shots from tht very same flight. Copyright: Vivek Manvi

The rear Economy Class cabin of VT-EVA "Agra"



The Executive Class cabin on the upper deck of VT-EVA "Agra"




The middle Y Class cabin of VT-EVA



First Class cabin of VT-EVA

[/img]
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ssbmat
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2009 11:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Isnt it ironical that in moments of nostalgia, we praise the 747-Agra to high heaven.

While it was in regular service, the same aircraft (along with Ellora,Ajanta,Velha Goa and what have you) were branded 'ancient', 'dirty', 'ratty' and what not..

I'd rather have been happy with an expression like "good riddance to the lumbering old 'b*' ' or something..atleast an honest expression of what it is, and not what it could have been..

Personally i never complain about AI 747s because they essentially werent any different from most other carriers products such as LH...and I did travel plenty on 'em..especially Velha Goa and Agra..

But thats human nature I guess..
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ryder1650
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2009 11:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It seems pretty sad that AI paid so much to have the interiors refurbed and are now not using them.

The interiors on these planes look better than the UAL 777s that they used to run to NRT. I don't know why they didn't just send the 747s to Asia. Of course the answer to that is they barely had 50 people on most of the NRT flights anyways.

I just find it dumb that the AI people didn't have the foresight to see that they would be retiring these planes so soon so why bother refurbishing the interiors. Then again I find everything AI does to be dumb.
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abhigopal
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2009 11:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for sharing. Excellent
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 6:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent Report, I think we should make this one sticky.

Sri_Bom
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2009 11:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

awsome reports. wish i were there Smile
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 12:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great trip report KCM!
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 4:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The 744 looks fantastic in AI's new colors, and the cabin interiors look amazing.

If only AI had bothered to embark on such changes (livery and especially cabin upgrades 5-10 years ago), perhaps international passengers wouldn't have given AI the heave ho. Now that the aircraft is looking fantastic with brand new interiors, AI decides to dump them. Typical convoluted AI logic combined with really bad economic realities around the world.
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The_Goat
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2009 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jaysit wrote:
The 744 looks fantastic in AI's new colors, and the cabin interiors look amazing.

If only AI had bothered to embark on such changes (livery and especially cabin upgrades 5-10 years ago), perhaps international passengers wouldn't have given AI the heave ho. Now that the aircraft is looking fantastic with brand new interiors, AI decides to dump them. Typical convoluted AI logic combined with really bad economic realities around the world.


agreed! That is probably the best 747 interior I have seen.
Is this the same aircraft that has taken MMS and his entourage to the USA?
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rutvij
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2009 4:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

^ Yep. Agra returned Yesterday.
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patkini
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 9:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey all,

Was passing by Santa Cruz last week around 6:00 pm and was pleasantly surprised to see a Jumbo taking off. Are they back in the scheduled operations or are they being used only for VIP operations now?

Rgds,
Pats
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rutvij
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 9:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

772s have been pulled out. 744s now plying on BOM-RUH and BOM-CCJ-JED.
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AKLDELNonstop
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Err...I saw an AI744 pax flight take off from HYD on Feb 26th.
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747-237
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 5:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

patkini wrote:
Hey all,

Was passing by Santa Cruz last week around 6:00 pm and was pleasantly surprised to see a Jumbo taking off. Are they back in the scheduled operations or are they being used only for VIP operations now?

Rgds,
Pats


AKLDELNonstop wrote:
Err...I saw an AI744 pax flight take off from HYD on Feb 26th.



AI yet to ground fuel-guzzling jets
Manju V I TNN

Mumbai: Air India’s five B747-400 aircrafts were to be phased out from commercial flying in the first week of January as the cost-conscious airline had planned to replace them with fuel-efficient models. Three months down the line, the jumbo jets are yet to call it a day despite the fact that these 436-seater, fuel-guzzlers fly with barely 36% of its seats occupied.

If you have ever wondered what it is like to have the iconic jumbo with humplike upper deck all to yourself, then board the 45-minute AI 963 Kochi-Calicut flight operated by the B747 one of these days. For about Rs 3,000, it’s like a private flight of sorts. The aircraft burns over 5 tons of fuel to fly between these two cities. It’s almost like a ferry flight.

“Parking space is not available in Calicut airport for more than two hours, so the aircraft flies to Kochi where it has a ground halt for 6-7 hours following which it flies to Riyadh. We don’t get passengers on this route, though tickets can be bought for this flight,’’ said an airline source. It’s in the Kochi-Riyadh leg that the threeclass configured aircraft sees about 150-170 economy class passengers. “The jumbos never get more than 170 passengers on board these days,’’ the source added. The AI spokesperson sought more time to comment on the issue.

Other routes operated by AI’s B747 also throw up similar tales. The 75-minute Hyderabad-Kochi AI-864 flight gets about 10-15 passengers. “In the last one year, the airline has not got even one full-fare paying first class passenger on flights operated by its B747,’’ the source added. It turns the economics of operating the jumbo on its head. “AI’s competitors to Middle East, the foreign airlines, get first and business class passengers and can afford to bring down the cost of an economy class air ticket,’’ the source added. Though AI hardly gets premium passengers, the airline still has to follow suit and offer cheap economy fares to stay in the competition. “The airline should have deployed smaller capacity aircrafts with better fuel efficiency on these routes. They know operating B747s on these routes is not economical and so they had planned to phase these jumbos by January. The longer the plan takes to be implemented, the greater the losses,’’ the source added.

The airline had six B747s in its fleet (three leased, three owned, the first one introduced in 1993). One B747 is grounded, which leaves five jumbos and these fly to Riyadh and Jeddah catering to the economy class customers from Mumbai, Kerala and Hyderabad. One of the round routes it operates is the Mumbai-Riyadh-Thiruvananthapuram-Kochi-Calicut-Kochi-Riyadh. The other flies between Mumbai, Jeddah, Hyderabad and two cities in Kerala. High fuel burn coupled with low occupancy on these routes mean the per passenger carbon di-oxide emission on these flights are much higher than those operated by other airlines. The airline was to lease out all the B747s, except three, which were to be used to operate VIP flights. Keeping with the plan, the airline had last month terminated the service contracts of 30 pilots flying these aircraft.

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Spiderguy252
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 7:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This TR seems weird now seeing that the 744s are still flying! Laughing
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ssbmat
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 8:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I dont see a reason why AI should pay rentals for B772s when they can refurbish and keep the 744s flying for another3-4 years.

In fact they should have continued them on the EU/US/Japan sectors because they have the IFE systems as well. While most major carriers are trimming down 744s, they havent exactly abandoned them in a hurry..
So what was the rush with AI , I dont understand at all.

Its not as if the new 773s/77Ls are setting the yield /load charts on fire!!
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yash777
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 10:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spiderguy252 wrote:
This TR seems weird now seeing that the 744s are still flying! Laughing


You bet! And the topic being sticky makes it even more funnier! Laughing
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TKMCE
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PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 3:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Was in Cochin International today, bascially to initiate my very young son to the world of airline spotting, with my ten year old nephew who is taking his first flight very shortly also tagging along.


Unlike BLR, there is a viewing gallery . Tickets are 30 Rs (my teeny weeny son was allowed in free- benefits of smallness Laughing ). Was directed to the viewing gallery above the international terminal Suprisingly when I was in the viewing gallery last, about 3 years back, it was located above the domestic terminal , so I guess there are either two or the location has shifted (by the way both terminals are on two sides of the same building).

Well what did I find when we reached the gallery, none other than VT-EVA, the 744 taken by our gallant Anet comrades with such great difficulty and master planning on one of the "farewell" voyages Crying or Very sad . As reported by Manju of TNN and posted somewhere in this thread, the aircraft was to operate AI 963 to CCJ and RUH at around 1620. Well none of us had the patience to hang around another 4-5 hours till then, (the difference I guess between a mere A-netter and an A-NUTTER Laughing ) so we left shortly after the Emirates, AIX (to SHJ) and Spice Jet departures. There was a fantastic view of two south bound Indian Railway trains as well from the viewing gallery Laughing , it is such a shame that for an airport with rail access so close (it skirts the boundary wall) they cant build a station nearby!!! Well , to the best of my knowledge, the airport has a controlling stake by Kerala goverment, the airport taxi drivers unions are all politically controlled, so I guess things wont change anytime in a hurry and the rail station will not evern been in the drawing boards for the next 20 years while work has started on both the airport golf course and the airport convention centre and the airport aviation academy (again controlled by the airport) has put up banners everywhere announcing the start of the second batch! Welcome to God's own country!!!! Laughing

But there is now an irregular (but alteast a start has been made) Volvo bus service to town. Charges are Rs 22 to Alwaye and Rs 48 to Vytilla, the most convenient point to most parts of Ernakulam.No storage space inside the bus unlike the Vayu Vajra in BLR, but compared to BLR the charges are very competitive and now you have alteast started getting an alternative for the ride to town!!! Byt the way in true Kerala style, although it is now more than 4-5 months since these buses have started operaton, te time table posted in the bus bay outside the terminal has not yet been upgated, so ask at the kosk next to the bus bay or track it from the KeSRTC website. Inside the bus however there is a neatly printed schedule displayed.
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Theairplaneguy4ever
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2012 7:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TKMCE wrote:
Was in Cochin International today, bascially to initiate my very young son to the world of airline spotting, with my ten year old nephew who is taking his first flight very shortly also tagging along.


Unlike BLR, there is a viewing gallery . Tickets are 30 Rs (my teeny weeny son was allowed in free- benefits of smallness Laughing ). Was directed to the viewing gallery above the international terminal Suprisingly when I was in the viewing gallery last, about 3 years back, it was located above the domestic terminal , so I guess there are either two or the location has shifted (by the way both terminals are on two sides of the same building).

displayed.


The viewing gallery there, is unfortunately a hoax to steal your money. There's another spotting location that only the locals know about, just opposite to the ATC tower.

I usually do spotting from there, here's a video of the view : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3u-468nfv1w&feature=plcp

I guess though your son would have enjoyed the view nonetheless!
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HAWK21M
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 3:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey an old thread bumped up....I thought kcm returned.....
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TKMCE
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

By the way the B744 still makes its way to CCJ and COK even now AI 962/AI 963 on JED-CCJ-COK and back the same way on Thu and Sun. Saw VT-ESN "Tanjore" recently.
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himmat01
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2016 12:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have booked my last flight on the AI B744. BOM-HYD on March 1, 2016.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2016 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

himmat01 wrote:
I have booked my last flight on the AI B744. BOM-HYD on March 1, 2016.
Wow Sir, wow! We will look forward to a grand trip report. You having flown the B742s as well, will be able to give us a comparison down the years which very few of us would have had the privilege of flying, over all these years.
Cheers, Sumantra.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2016 4:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

himmat01 wrote:
I have booked my last flight on the AI B744. BOM-HYD on March 1, 2016.


Last ..... is that because the AI 744 is being retired (this time, for real) soon after; or you're swearing off them.


sumantra wrote:
You having flown the B742s as well, will be able to give us a comparison down the years which very few of us would have had the privilege of flying, over all these years.
Cheers, Sumantra.


Sumantra, don't forget Himmat has most certainly flown aboard the AI 743s as well.
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