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The ATRs and 737s: All the way to Ahmedabad

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Joined: 18 Dec 2012
Posts: 60

PostPosted: Thu Nov 24, 2016 2:20 pm    Post subject: The ATRs and 737s: All the way to Ahmedabad Reply with quote

Greetings, fellow A.netters! This TR is about a trip to AMD from AJL on Jet Airways, for a change.
Itís been a long long time since my previous TR. This is because of two reasons-
1. College life was getting rather hectic, and
2. It was a matter of sheer coincidence that whenever I was to fly, there would be some terror attack happening somewhere just a couple of days before my trip. I was very hesitant to be seen taking photographs at the airports or in-flight, scared that I would be detained or something! Honestly, mom forbade me. The Paris attack, the Brussels attack and the attack at Pathankot meant that I had to scrap TR plans for three awesome trips, one of which was a complete surprise from Air India.

Even though TRs for any of those trips isnít going to materialize, I would like to share the story of that surprise trip before going into the AMD trip.
I was flying to BOM from AJL for my summer break, when I happened to fly the interesting AJL-CCU-DEL-BOM routing on Air India again. I had done this once before, and enjoyed those flights to the hilt.

This trip, in June 2016 had a small difference. The Dreamliner flight AI349 from Shanghai, onward to Mumbai was the cheaper option and I was booked on it. There was a long layover at DEL after the Dreamliner flight, AI 701. I was actually looking forward to a nice time at the international wing of T3, which would be great for spotting at that time of the night. Boarding would commence at 03:45.

At CCU, I was secretly hoping for an aircraft change to a B777, because I had never been on one before. VT-ANK turned up that evening, for one of my best flights on Air India, ever (Sadly, that will remain undocumented). It was delayed by an hour, landing in DEL a little after 21:30.

After I landed at DEL, Air India staff was asking for onward passengers to Mumbai. I didnít realize that it was for passengers on AI602, which departed at 21:00. It was just an impulsive thing, but I walked over to the transfer desk. As I opened my mouth to spoke, the realization struck about AI602. I pretended to ask the polite lady at the transfer desk, for directions to the international gates.

She asked me for my ticket, and started speaking to her supervisor on the walkie-talkie.
ďSir, 701-349 aa gaya hai? Should I ask him?Ē she asked. Here, I wondered if I was the only person among the millions at DEL, to make this connection.
ďSir, there is a sooner flight to Mumbai at 23:15. Would you like to be on it?Ē she asked me.
ďWhich flight is this?Ē I asked. ďItís AI317. Itíll reach around 01:00.Ē
The avgeek didnít want to, but the saner engineer knew the value of sleeping in a good cozy bed.

ďPlease put me on itĒ, I told her. I knew about this flight from Hong Kong, which usually connected to BOM operated by an A321. A Dreamliner flight gone, I thought. I called my family and informed them all about the change in plans. I requested her for a window because thatís a must when you are taking off from DEL at night. I thanked her half heartedly, and as I began my walk towards the international gates, a glance at my boarding pass said my seat was 19K. The ĎKí made me stop right there.

I knew that the Dreamliners didnít have K, just J. Obviously none of the narrow bodied jets had ĎKí. I ran back to the desk, and asked her about the aircraft type. She looked at me for a full 3 seconds before answering, ďItís is a Boeing 777-300ER registered VT-ALJ. Itís called Air India Bihar.Ē The smile on my face couldnít be more apparent. I was to fly the 77W for the first time. A quick check told me that it was the Star Alliance Liveried 777 with Air India. I thanked her profusely, and danced a small jig, as I ran over to the gates and became one of the last to board the flight.

My seat was the closest to Engine 2, the GE90-115B. The GE90 start-up, the GE90 take off, an amazing Taj-sats meal, an on-time arrival, and spotting of the SQ A380 less than 100 feet away on the tarmac meant that, I had a flight which had beaten the previous AI701 flight on VT-ANK. Air India had offered better. Air India was the bloody best airline for me that night.


I needed to fly all the way to Ahmedabad from AJL, for a mid-semester interview. There were many options from AJL, now that Spicejet operates its Q400 here, and 9W has a 737 to DEL via GAU. After all the TRs on AI flights, a flight on 9W was waiting to be documented. The routing was through BOM, with a nightís layover at home before taking the evening flight the next day to AMD. Iíll go into them one by one, leg by leg. The TR wasnít planned, but my phone came handy and the past few weeks had been quite uneventful, security-wise. (Pardon me if I sound paranoid)

Leg 1-
9W 2672, ATR 72-500
Seat 1A
Departure: 12:15, Arrival- 13:30

The ATR flights out of AJL are usually more exciting than the jets. They fly lower, slower, and the beauty of those mystic hills can be better appreciated. I have always preferred flying on the ATRs because they are cozy and there isnít much of a hullaballoo while boarding. More importantly, AWESOME TARMAC VIEWS WHILE BOARDING!!!
After Spicejet started flights to AJL, Iíve wanted to board one to either CCU or GAU. Iíll get to fly the Q400 one day, but I got a chance to see it up close. I
I left for the airport rather late. The nerves started to tense up when there were just 45 minutes left for departure. Punctuality isnít my strong suit yet. The taxi driver was jolly amusing. He convinced me that ATR flights in AJL are just like larger taxis. ďIf it stand there when you go airport, you go Kolkata. Donít worry time in AizawlĒ, he said.
I made it 30 minutes before departure and dropped my luggage at the check-in counter. I had checked-in on the website and saved myself 1A, right in the front. At 5 10í, it becomes difficult for me otherwise on the ATR.
A new entrant at AJL:

Security check was on for the Spicejet flight to GAU, while Boarding was on for the 9W flight.

Spicejet 'Haldi", I think. Couldn't read it from the distance and the sun:

Hello little one: Smile

Behind the ATR, I saw a smaller one:

I must mention the leg-room: Very Happy Wink

As I settled at 1A, I noticed that the lady in 1C seemed to be very very interested in the chopper next to us. The purser came over and started chatting with me about Aizawl, the people there, and the airport as such. He was seated at the cockpit door, and chatted all the way. There were just 12 people flying that Thursday afternoon, loads were light.
The flight took-off from runway 35 and turned towards the southwest for the hop across Bangladesh.

Lengpui Airport after takeoff:

The conversation inside became interesting after a while, when we started chatting about the routines that 9W follows for its pursers and pilots. The conversation moved to the B777s with 9W and the flights they offered. Idiotically, I mentioned (almost bragged) that I had flying hours on my PC-based flight simulator (MS FSX), where the 737 and 777 were my favourites to fly. It's been 8 years since I started flying on the simulator. (I don't feel embarrassed mentioning it to you guys).

The mighty Padma over Bangladesh:

The lady next to me then joined the conversation. She was a pilot for Pawan Hans stationed in CCU. They operated out of Behala and she was on a one month duty in AJL. No wonder she seemed curious about the chopper. I felt more embarrassed when she said she was an actual pilot. I had been almost bragging to an actual pilot. I wanted to open the emergency exit and jump out. We landed very soon, and de-planed quickly.

Leg 2:
9W 624
B737-800, VT-JFK
Departure- 14:20 Arrival- 16:55
Seat 24 A

I had a very very short layover at CCU. The ground staff asked me to wait under the aircraft wing, before getting my luggage and asking me to get on one of those open tractor wagons. I was taken to my next flight on it. A new experience, but I wasn't pissed off or anything. To be honest, a ride on the tarmac with the top down was one of my dreams in life.

The aircraft waiting was 'Mr. President' VT-JFK. I was the last to board and the CFMs were woken from slumber. The flight was uneventful at most. Comfortable, but uneventful. I won't write about the meals because they were nothing compared to those absolute delights from Taj-Sats. I was missing that truck at 1R of the aircraft.

The leg room was awesome again:


I like that:

It looks more macho than the airbus wing:

The flight was uneventful. Comfortable, but uneventful.
Things started getting awfully cold in-flight.

We approached the runway from the sea and had an on time arrival at BOM.

There weren't many interesting birds at BOM then.

B737-800, VT-JNN (Nehru plane, Sumantra sir?)
Seat 12A
Departure- 17:20, Arrival 18:50

I realized later that that the same aircraft operating 9W624 operates 9W323 to AMD. I made it to the airport rather late, as usual. My flight was delayed luckily, due to a delayed 9W624. After a slow security check, I made it to Gate 50 for my flight. There were no bridges empty at that point of time. The place was crawling with AI planes and a few 9W 737s.
This mammoth caught my eye:

When will we meet at 1R again?

Birds at domestic T2

The crowd was easing as 4-5 flights departed within a span of 20 minutes:

The bridge was such that I couldnít see my aircraft. I happened to see a babybus B737-700. The registration was VT-JGX (I could be wrong). Mammoth on one side and baby on the other, I thought.
I saw the oldie as we boarded. Nice eye-brows:

Things were tight:

Now, thatís worth the leg space:

The rest of my flight was uneventful again. Some snacks served, and a delayed arrival into AMD.
G8 370
A320, VT-WAG
Departure- 21:50, Arrival-23:15

My work in Ahmedabad was over by the afternoon next day. My original plan was to take the legendary Gujarat Mail back to BOM. Recently, it had been converted into the modern LHB coaches. But the fares on G8 were far too competitive, even compared to 3 tier AC fares. After the interview, I went off to the airport and waited there for my flight. The place is no good for spotting.

2 movies and a subway meal later, I boarded for the hop to BOM. I wonít write much about it. It was good, nothing memorable.
Shots of AMD after take-off-

B737-800, VT-JFL
Departure- 07:05, Arrival: 09:45

I woke up early for a morning flight to CCU and AJL. 20 minutes in an Uber cab later, I was at T2. Another 5 minutes later, I was air side. I took me 40 minutes more to get to my gate. The reason, were these.

Sun broke through the horizon very soon, and this bird was prepared for my flight, the presidentís immediate younger brother, VT-JFL.

It was a beautiful take-off from BOM, on time. Iíll let the pictures talk:


As we taxied to the ramp after landing, I just did a count and realized that it was my 75th flight on any fixed wing plane ever. A treat was waiting on the ground.

ATR 72-500, VT-JCT
Departure- 10:20, Arrival-11:50
Seat- 1A

The layover for my next flight was too short again. This time a tractor didnít turn up. There were 6 people for the flight to AJL in all. We were taken to the smaller one by bus, which turned up 15 minutes after we de-planed.
The treat was, a 15 minute spotting session at CCU, on the tarmac at morning peak time traffic.
I couldnít help but wonder about the magnificent machines these are. They endure such extremes, while maintaining to be the safest mode of transport at this time.
Sheís a beauty, they all are:

The beast behind that roar. SHEís HOTTTT!

The only other sister bird around:

A EK 777 popped out of the international wing at CCU. Too far to capture:

My first 6E flight was on this one:

The little one just came:

Hello old friend. All set to leave?

Parting shot:

Guest from next door:

At the little one:

I was so pleased with the whole affair that I didnít take pictures during the next flight. The Chief Minister of Mizoram happened to sit beside me. Heís a tough politician, from what I know. Itís apparently his 5th term running. He didnít chat much.
We landed on time and bid Lengpui farewell for the time being. There is a rather exciting itinerary planned for my winter break. Also, my last semester is approaching, and before I leave, I must do a detailed report on the airport at Lengpui as requested by many members. I promise that it will be done.
I appreciate your comments and support. Your suggestions are most welcome.
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Joined: 19 Dec 2011
Posts: 1199
Location: New Jersey/CCU

PostPosted: Fri Nov 25, 2016 8:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@Dan, it is a nice trip report and the photographs are excellent. It seems ATR 72 is playing an important role in NE India! Is it a replacement of A319? AJL is an important destination and must have jet connectivity. No matter how powerful the engines are , any turbo aircraft has limitation compared to a jet aircraft. Very Happy
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Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Posts: 4528
Location: New Delhi

PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2016 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Danny, thanks for a lovely trip report, after a long time!
For a long time, you have been our forum's link with the exotic North East, and we know more about aviation in the region, thanks to you!
Now, please do not let the lack of pictures deny us the pleasure of going through your trip reports. Let me put in an ardent plea to you, to post trip reports for those three trip reports (in detail!) and more so, since you had a nice surprise on Air India. And it was great that you got `Bihar', the unique *A B77W in the AI fleet.
Lovely pics from AJL again, and the in-flight pics! Nice that you had a pilot right next to you. And the CM, on the return leg! Yes, that Jet Airways stirring is soul-stirring for us avgeeks Smile Lucky you, to have an air-side transfer, and getting to wait under the wing!
Thank you for remembering me on my crazy plane names Smile
AMD airport: I have only been air-side on a diverted flight (PNQ-DEL). I would love to see both the old and new terminals at AMD.
What a lovely set of tarmac shots...I can only dream on.
Thank you for a lovely report, and I really implore you once again, to jot down the three TRs which you vowed not to write Smile
And yes, that Lengpui report is long-due Smile
Cheers, Sumantra.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2016 8:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks a lot for your valuable comments. I'll try my best to pen those TRs down. And Lengpui, next time, promise.
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