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A quick trip between Dubai and Madurai - Part 1

 
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basheer1211
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Joined: 28 Dec 2012
Posts: 271
Location: India

PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2016 11:03 pm    Post subject: A quick trip between Dubai and Madurai - Part 1 Reply with quote

A quick trip between Dubai and Madurai Ė Part 1

Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans. One thing I always experienced in my life is when you plan a lot, it wonít happen. Good things usually happen all of a sudden. That is what happened while I was planning my trip.

In my previous TR, I promised that I will post more photos in my next TR. I hope I have fulfilled my promise and at the same time, not boring you with lot of pictures.

As usual, my whole hearted thanks to Abhijit and Hiren for providing many information and clearing many doubt. They are the one who I always rely on when I have any doubt in Aviation.

Planning / Booking

In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable, said a former US president. So even though I know that things wonít happen if I do too much planning, I never stop planning. It was months before when I decided a short trip to Madurai (IXM) from Dubai in the end of December for a family function. The direct DXB-IXM by SG is always out of my choice as it is too expensive than via flights in peak holidays. My initial plan was to burn my JP miles for DXB-BOM-DXB and revenue ticket for BOM-MAA-IXM v.v by SG or AI. But DXB-BOM award ticket was not available for my preferred dates. Tried several other combinations, but nothing worked out. Hence, decided to go for revenue ticket for onward journey and award ticket from IXM itself while returning.

Once the decision of revenue ticket for the onward journey is taken, my first choice was DXB-MAA-IXM by 6E/SG. It was cheaper with enough transit gap. By that time, I found another avgeek routing DXB-HYD-MAA-IXM by FZ/SG with the same fare. But the delay in deciding the date for the family function postponed my booking. When the day was decided just a week before the proposed date of travel, the fares were skyrocketing due to holiday and peak season. DXB-IXM was priced at 19k oneway and via flights to IXM were priced even more. So checked DXB-MAA and voila, I got a SG flight for 10k. The actual surprise is that flight is via IXM by SG.

I had little doubt that whether they will allow me to exit at IXM skipping the onward flight. So I booked a train from Chennai Egmore to Madurai Jn as a back-up since the IXM-MAA flights reaches at 2040 and there is no flight to IXM till next day early morning.

For return, my initial plan was to book IXM-BLR-BOM-DXB by burning JP miles. But the delay in booking left me with only one choice. Burned 27500 miles on IXM-BLR-IXE-DXB.

In short, it will be DXB-IXM-MAAĖ(train)ĖIXM-BLR-IXE-DXB by SG/-IR-/9W.

Sorry for the long post on planning. I love planning more than I actually fly Razz Razz

Flight details

Date : 16.12.2016 Friday

Sector : DXB-IXM

Airline : SpiceJet

Flight Number : SG 24

Seat No : 25F

Aircraft : B73H

Registration : TC-TJU (Corendon a/c on wet lease with SpiceJet)

STD : 1110 ATD : 1148

STA : 1655 ATA : 1659

The excitement day

The day came and I am so excited to fly again after one and half year. Left my house at 0810. The time to airport in Fridays takes just 25 min, which is usually more than 90 min on weekdays. Reached airport by 0835 and check-in counter by 0845.


Check-in counters at DXB by Mohamed Mustafa, on Flickr

There were two counters for priority check-in and 3 counters for normal check-in. Initially, I stood in priority check-in queue assuming that there wonít be many choosing it. But to my surprise, there were a lot of people who opted for it. I was politely asked to join the other line. I thought to get a window seat while checking-in, but looking the line and where I stood, I knew chances are less. Immediately opened SG app and selected a window seat for 300 bucks. I was surprised that I was able to select a seat through app/website when counter check-in is already open. Many airlines block that when counter check-in opens I believe.

Reached the counter after 45 min. Since I had only a laptop bag and a hand luggage, both together weighed less 7 kg, I was given two tag. Just a few seconds later, a guy came and said you are allowed to have only one bag inside cabin which includes laptop bag too. I have already read their hand baggage policy and Iím not surprised. All I requested is Iím not having any check-in luggage so to allow me. The guy refused and said we will charge 60 AED per kg for second bag near the gate. So Iím forced to check-in my other bag. As I have connecting flight to Chennai from Madurai, that guy politely said, ďDonít worry, Sir. Iím adding a Priority tag with the bag, so that you will get it fastĒ. Let me remind you that those priority tags are chargeable and part of Add-ons. Those polite words showed that they care us in whatever way they can without overriding their policy.


Boarding Pass by Mohamed Mustafa, on Flickr

Immigration and Customs were too quick even though there was moderate rush. I had only 30 min for boarding time 1010 which is 1 hr before the scheduled departure. But as you know, it will not happen before one hour and the inbound flight from DEL is 40 min away from DXB. So I didnít take it seriously and went ahead to Marhaba Lounge.


Entrance of Marhaba Lounge by Mohamed Mustafa, on Flickr

The entrance has a LED display which shows all the eligible cards and partnered airlines.


Eligible cards for complementary access by Mohamed Mustafa, on Flickr

Partnered Airlines by Mohamed Mustafa, on Flickr

The lounge was spacious, but I doubt it can be enough in peak hours. It has some private closed areas too. May be reserved for First Class Pax / VVIPs / Families. Not much staff around.


Inside view of Marhaba Lounge by Mohamed Mustafa, on Flickr

Being a typical South Indian/Tamilian, I always want Dosa/Idli/Pongal for my breakfast. Well, the Marhaba Lounge is not in MAA/BLR. So I settled with the below choice.


My choices from Buffet at Marhaba Lounge by Mohamed Mustafa, on Flickr

I must say that the choices were limited and I think itís not worth for paid visit. Since I have complementary access through my Master Debit Card, I didnít mind. The only minus I felt is they donít have small water bottles. They had only 2 ltr bottles which is big for an individual.

When Abhijit notified me that the inbound a/c is just 6 min away from touch down, I prepared to leave the lounge. The assigned gate D1 is in the end of the terminal.


On the way to gate D1 by Mohamed Mustafa, on Flickr

Reached D3 seating area and comforted myself there since D1 area had rush.


Seating area of gate D3 by Mohamed Mustafa, on Flickr

Seating area of gate D2 and D1 by Mohamed Mustafa, on Flickr

Boarding

Boarding was commenced at 1055, 45 min behind the hand-written boarding time in BP and 15 min behind the scheduled one.


Boarding commenced at Gate D1 by Mohamed Mustafa, on Flickr

I was sitting in D3 area, so didnít know whether they called seat-wise or not. Being a true LCC, the SG staffs checked weight of each and every hand luggage near the gate. Anything above 7 kg was allowed only after paying the excess baggage fees. And few baggages were moved to check-in luggage due to over size and over weight. A quick query about load says itís a packed flight with 189 pax. Two staffs were scanning the BPs.


Staffs scanning BPs by Mohamed Mustafa, on Flickr

Captured this beauty while walking through aerobridge. The bloody glasses were so dirty. Otherwise, the pic would have been a perfect shot


BA Boeing 777-200 G-ZZZB by Mohamed Mustafa, on Flickr

The Aircraft

Since the recovery of SG from summerí15 schedule, they have taken a/c on wet lease on several instances to match the demand since they were unable to get a/c on dry lease. Those wet leases were mostly from Czech airline company Travel Service and Turkish airline companies Anadolu Jet, Sun Express and Corendon Airlines. For a brief period, they took couple of A320s from BHAir. Currently they are having 3 wet lease a/c TC-TJT/U/O from Corendon Airlines. Two of which is doing DXB run from DEL/IXM and IXE/JAI. The other one is doing north-east run.

The bird for me today is TC-TJU, a 8.9 year old 737-800. SG took this bird in the first week of Nov. Sadly I couldnít take a photo of it except its door.


Door of TC-TJU by Mohamed Mustafa, on Flickr

I was welcomed by a Turkish cabin crew. There were 4 cabin crews in total, out of which, two were Turkish and two were Indians. I was one of last few to board. Cabin was clean and neat. But the ad of New India Assurance behind each seat made it look too ugly.


On board TC-TJU by Mohamed Mustafa, on Flickr

Ad behind the seat by Mohamed Mustafa, on Flickr

Pushback / Take off

The captain came on mic with the usual announcements. I couldnít recognize their name as they were Turkish. Journey hours will be 3 hrs and 40 min. Safety demonstration was started before? pushback and it was done by Indian crews. Safety instructions of both Corendon Airlines and SpiceJet were kept in the seat pocket.


Safety instructions of Corendon Airlines and SpiceJet by Mohamed Mustafa, on Flickr

Pushback was at 1132. The a/c taxied like a riding horse passing through the whole T1 and T3 terminal as the gate D1 was in extreme end of T1 and it was rolling take-off. Clicked few birds while taxiing.


Mahan Air Ė A340-600 Ė EP-MMQ by Mohamed Mustafa, on Flickr

Flynas and Corendon TC-TJO operated for SG by Mohamed Mustafa, on Flickr

Take off was at 1148, a full 38 min behind the schedule. The aerial view of Dubai is always amazing


Aerial view of Dubai by Mohamed Mustafa, on Flickr

Aerial view of Dubai 2 by Mohamed Mustafa, on Flickr

On board TC-TJU

The favorite part of the TR for many TR readers is this. The food. Even though booking through their app costs only half the price that of in website, we cannot select any particular meal. It has only Veg and Non-veg meal option without naming it. Weíll be served any of Veg and Non-veg according to the availability on-board. So I pre-booked Vegetable Biriyani with Mirchi ka Salan through their website.

Crew started serving after 10 min of take-off. It was only Indian crews. Turkish crews were not seen throughout the flight except when collecting the trash. They started from row 1. It took around 50 min for them to reach row 25. I thought they are serving both pre-booked and BoB together. But she politely rejected BoB to the previous row citing pre-booked will be served first. When somebody asked her about the delay, she replied that almost all the pax have pre-booked the meal.

Finally, they reached me. The meal was served with a smile, but in a non-sealed container. The cover came off when she took it from the cart. She put it back and served me. Same happened to the next seat guy. Itís one of just two minus about the meal. The other being quantity.


Meal on-board TC-TJU 1 by Mohamed Mustafa, on Flickr


Meal on-board TC-TJU 3 by Mohamed Mustafa, on Flickr

Veg Biryani, Salan in small container, a bread with butter and a cake. Though it tasted really really good, I can only name it. I hope that the foodie-expert Sumantra sir will help me describing with his out-of-dictionary words. 😁 I can assure that I will order it again if I get a chance to fly with them again.

It was a quiet flight apart from two turbulence which did not last for more than 10 min. Here is few snaps taken on the way.


View from TC-TJU by Mohamed Mustafa, on Flickr

Entering the land side leaving Arabian sea behind by Mohamed Mustafa, on Flickr

A beautiful view of Sharavati Valley Wildlife Sanctuary near Jog Falls by Mohamed Mustafa, on Flickr

Had a little chat with Indian crews. The crew change usually happens at IXM as the rotation of this flight is DEL-DXB-IXM-DXB-DEL.

Landing

The captain came on mic and announced the decending at 1645. He banked sharply on the left and lined up for the runway. A little hard touch-down was at 1700, 5 min behind the schedule.


IXM runway by Mohamed Mustafa, on Flickr

The apron had only one 9W ATR preparing for the return trip to MAA.


IXM Terminal and Apron by Mohamed Mustafa, on Flickr

9W Ė ATR 72-500 Ė VT-JCN by Mohamed Mustafa, on Flickr

Within few minutes of landing, the Corendon bird finally came to rest and docked at an aerobridge. The ground staffs were quick to start offloading the luggage.


Staffs offloading the luggages by Mohamed Mustafa, on Flickr

The happy ending

While deboarding, the Turkish crew thanked me. In return, I welcomed her to Madurai 😊 and wished her good times in India. In immigration, a SG staff called transit passengers to MAA to allow them to complete immigration and customs on priority basis. There were quite a few transit passengers. I donít want to go to MAA. So stood in normal line. Immigration was quick. Customs took around 30 min since only one scanner was working. By that time, a SG staff was escorting both the pilots and 4 cabin crews skipping the customs queue. Finished customs and went to conveyor belt. My bag was already there as it had priority tag. Came out of airport happily skipping the IXM-MAA leg and reached home in another 45 min.

Conclusion

Overall, the flight was smooth. The crews attended always with smile. The food was delicious and tasty. Quantity could have been a little more and the container should be sealed. But no complaints. Thank you Spicejet for a wonderful flight. I hope the return trip by 9W will also be a exciting one. Thank you all for reading this till the end patiently. Kindly suggest me tips and ideas to improve my TR writing.
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sumantra
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Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Posts: 4441
Location: New Delhi

PostPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2016 9:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a delightful trip report!
I was really excited on seeing the descriptions on the WA group, and am very happy that you have also posted a full TR here. Please feel free to even post a link to your website here: even that will suffice, in case you do not have the time to copy/re-write/re-format your memories!
The planning part was worth reading every word of it: I guess all of us enthusiasts have gone through this exercise at some time, or the other.
This description can never be long enough Smile
Nice pictures of the Marhaba lounge. It is even nicer when I am having breakfast while reading the trip report!
It is nice that you got an exotic wet-leased bird on your favourite airline Smile
That Mahan Air A346 was sheer eye-candy: nice shot! Not to forget the winglet shot.
As I wrote on the WA forum, I am glad that the food was tasty. Yes, the amount was a bit small, but the competitor(s) serve(s) less!
As usual, the amount of camaraderie we have on this forum is wonderful. Indeed, Abhijeeth and Hiren in particular!
Sir, thanks once again for a lovely trip report. We look forward to the return one with bated breath.
Cheers, Sumantra.
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ameya
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Joined: 09 May 2007
Posts: 3568
Location: Pune,Maharashtra

PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2016 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great pics and nice read !

Glad to see SG being able to maintain their branding on a wet lease aircraft

Wonder why the boards displayed madurai Airport at Dubai, certainly it has to be airport - can never be a railway station !

Could have just written Madurai !

SG has these small gems in their network, IXM-DXB, AMD-MCT, PNQ-DXB. . .
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avbuff
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Posts: 5018

PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2016 1:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice TR and lovely pictures ...

I myself flew Spicejet to PNQ earlier this month, was a pleasant experience.
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