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Propping in the hills, SG Q400 from AJL to CCU!

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Joined: 18 Dec 2012
Posts: 61

PostPosted: Sun Jul 02, 2017 6:41 pm    Post subject: Propping in the hills, SG Q400 from AJL to CCU! Reply with quote

Greetings, fellow A.netters!


It’s been a while since my last TR. Things had been very hectic, with some extensive project work as I approached the completion of my graduate studies. This report is about a short hop on the Spicejet Q400 turboprop from AJL’s Lengpui Airport to CCU NSCBI. This was my first time on this aircraft type and I was itching to compare this pencil-like plane with the ATRs. I have been on ATRs operated by CD, 9I, 9W and IT in the past. Coincidently, this was also my first time flying Spicejet.

A short weekend getaway was being planned to the coastal temple town of Puri, in Odisha. It wasn’t peak season there and spring was just setting in. A quick check on showed SG as the cheapest choice, with 9W priced at just Rs. 12 higher. The SG flight departed rather late in the afternoon and became the obvious choice, as I could attend classes in the morning and leave for the airport after. The 9W flight was being operated on an ATR-72 which has now been changed to a B738 which flies onwards to Mumbai. With 9W doing away with its ATRs, the CCU-AJL-CCU sector has now been clubbed with 9W615 from BOM in the morning, returning as 9W624 in the afternoon. An overnight train from Howrah was the obvious choice to continue the journey onwards to Puri. We chose the popular Howrah Puri superfast express, which reached Puri at a decent time in the morning. Although, being on the east coast, the town was very well lit at 05:30.

Spicejet SG 3282,
Dep- 15:15
Arr- 16:30 (too much slack time)
VT-SUI “Haldi”, Bombardier Q400 Dash 8

The ride to Lengpui is beautiful, scenic and calm. It is an open road which meanders through the hills. We were hoping to grab a snack at the airport and laze around in the viewing gallery before took our flight. But my absolute lack of punctuality didn’t let that happen. We made it to the airport, a little before 13:40 and proceeded straight for check-in. The baggage scanner was dead that day and we had to get our baggage checked manually. Security personnel opened up our overnighter strolley and checked it manually. I had done a web check-in 24 hours before the flight and saved seat 9D for myself because I had hoped that I would get a good view of the landing gears upon take-off and landing. This is the only aircraft that I know off, from which the landing gears can been seen directly. I found it very fascinating to see rubber hit tarmac when it landed hard on runway 1R at CCU.

We then headed for a quick bite of Aloo Parathas upstairs and had a look at the aircrafts operating AJL for the day. The only aircrafts on the tarmac at that point were the 9W flight from GAU and the Pawan hans chopper. The aircraft operating AJL-GAU-DEL-AMD for the day was VT-SJA, a B737-700 babybus in the JetKonnect livery. I had flown this very aircraft roughly 6 years ago from GAU to BLR via CCU, originating at IMF.

As completed security check and went airside, the AI flight from CCU came in. I was completely shocked to see the flight being operated by one other than the IC-liveried abysmal sisters. A quick check on FR24 showed that those aircrafts were no longer being operated on this route after AJL and IMF were separated as two dedicated flights to CCU. I was now looking forward to my last flight from AJL after completion of my graduation, which is scheduled in July 2017.

VT-SUI came in from GAU with a lot of noise and taxied to a ramp opposite the A319. The passengers started pouring out of the Q400 soon after and the A319 was being prepped to leave.


We were called for boarding just 10 minutes before departure time and walked over to the aircraft which was shining bright on the tarmac. As we assembled in a queue outside the aircraft door, a CISF guard came running towards us, asking us to push immediately towards the wing of our Q400 because the A319 was initiating engine start-up and taxi. It was absolutely brilliant to watch this relatively smaller bird, looking so massive and loud right in front of us.

After it left, we continued boarding and settled into our seats. I was a tad disappointed to see that I was closer to the propeller and not the landing gear.

The seats were much more comfortable that the ATR seats, considering a person of my size. I loved the legroom and how the headrest was upto a point higher than the top of my head. The windows were relatively smaller and scratched at places.


The doors were closed soon and a series of pre-recorded announcements began. The flight attendants were very quick with the safety briefings and I had what was probably the fastest taxi on an airplane ever! The throttles were unleashed the power could be felt. It wasn’t as mellow as the ATR or even the A319. The engines were incredibly loud, probably because of its proximity to my seat. We rotated even before the terminals came into view and took off into the skies, which were peppered with clouds.


The F/As sprang into action and started distributing pre-booked meals, followed by sale to other passengers. It was mentioned that there were no hot beverages or food items available on the Q400. We decided to skip buying anything at all, having filled up on Aloo parathas anyways.
I was expecting the engine noise to calm down after the climb, but it never did. It was painfully loud until the taxi after landing in CCU.

A pic that turned out like one from the ads because of scratches on the window:


Something very crafty that I noticed about this flight was that the seat belt signs were switched on after 25 minutes in-flight, followed by announcements that we would be landing into CCU shortly. The aircraft showed no signs of descending and the F/As kept denying passengers anything they requested for. A passenger in the seat in front of me pressed on the call button a few times, but no response ever came. I thought that this could be because of turbulence, but we never encountered anything during the descent. It was only 15:40, when the seatbelt signs turned on. After 30 minutes, we landed on 1R at CCU and taxied fast enough to the ramp. I desperately wanted to get away from the engine noise at this point. The pilot never came on the PA system for announcements. He/she might have, but I never heard anything over the noise from the engines.
I didn’t even bother for a goodbye and boarded the bus, thinking about the next poor soul which would find itself seated on the loud seat 9D/A. As the bus crawled away from the noise machine, I noticed that the bus had advertisements on its window, making it impossible to take pics on the tarmac. Another negative for spicejet. My mother pointed towards this ATR which was painted in AI's centaur livery. I couldn't get a very good look at it, but my mother had a smile on her face. She said it reminded her of a plane called AI Gomti, which she had flown decades ago.

As if this wasn’t enough on SG’s part already, the luggage took 40 minutes to arrive on the belt, which was plain agonizing.


A nice pic of Netaji Bose(my hero from the freedom movement):

We were exhausted after what was supposed to be a short hop over the hills. Spicejet wasn’t a good experience on this flight. The Q400 was one that I probably would think twice before flying on. It was way noisier than the ATR, while the seats were a definite pro. I would tilt it a little in the favour of the Q400, maybe because I liked the front entrance(kidding).


We were around at the airport for a while and then took the air conditioned airport service to Howrah. There is a great place in HWH called Come Sum, where one can get great meals before boarding that overnighter.
The train ride was great. I now know the reason why this train enjoys such popularity on this route, much like the Gujarat mail between ADI and BCT.
The SG trick of switching on the seatbelt signs to reduce service time wasn’t so cool. The noise was excruciating on the Q400 and the luggage took an eternity to land up on the belt. All in all, not a good flight with SG. They have a trick or two to learn from 6E. Comments and suggestions are welcome from your end. Stay happy and stay healthy.
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Joined: 19 Dec 2011
Posts: 1399
Location: New Jersey/CCU

PostPosted: Sun Jul 02, 2017 10:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another brilliant trip report by Dan. I really enjoy your TR! It is nice to see that small airport in north east like AJL is routinely launching back to back flights like A319 jet followed by Spicejet turbo Q400. These north east airports should be further developed to handle even more flights both day and night. Of course some people will always complaint that there are not enough passengers in the East!
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Joined: 16 May 2017
Posts: 48
Location: Bangalore, Ann Arbor

PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2017 7:52 am    Post subject: Re: Propping in the hills, SG Q400 from AJL to CCU! Reply with quote

Excellent TR Smile
This is a part of India that I've never been to, and I'd certainly love to do so in the near future!
Best regards,
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Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Posts: 4685
Location: New Delhi

PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Danny, once again, a delightful TR from exotic AJL, and this time, on an SG Q4!
Most passengers consider the Q4 to be more comfortable than the ATR, but I am somehow not very inclined this way, or that. I love both Smile
And yes, I am of quite a decent height, and an indecent width Razz
I love the engine sounds on both these types of planes.
AI's Gomti: an A310. Memories for me as well, though I haven't flown on this particular bird.
Baggage coming in late at CCU: a very common occurrence, in my experiences.
I look forward to your Jul'17 post-graduation flight!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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Joined: 18 Dec 2012
Posts: 61

PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2017 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks a lot everybody. I'm glad you liked it.
These north east airports should be further developed to handle even more flights both day and night.

There has been an increase in traffic to AJL. I flew out from AJL recently, to discover that 9W is also operating a weekly 738 to AJL from CCU. This is in addition to the two 738 services operating to DEL and BOM via GAU and CCU respectively.
This is a part of India that I've never been to, and I'd certainly love to do so in the near future.

Oh wow! You should come over to Mizoram which isn't as commercial as Meghalaya or Sikkim, but just as beautiful if not more. It's a third of the expenses on a trip to Shimla or Manali. You'll love it.

Danny, once again, a delightful TR from exotic AJL, and this time, on an SG Q4!

Thanks a lot, Sir.

I look forward to your Jul'17 post-graduation flight!

While it is a very interesting one, it might be a while before it gets on the site. Bumped into a Cockroach on the Dreamliner flight from CCU to DEL on VT-ANV. I wanted to tell the F/As, but mom asked me to kill it and hush it because it would have led to a delay of 14 hours or so. Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
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Joined: 19 Dec 2006
Posts: 2325
Location: BLR, DXB

PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow a great TR from an airport we don’t see much of. Exotic location, non normal aircraft, airline not so much Wink
- any pictures of the drive to the airport and surrounding areas?
- I always find it hard to compare aircraft etc because I never remember engine sounds etc etc. We’re your other Q400 flights as loud when you sat at the back?
- 40 mins for bags Shocked
- I was going to say good luck with the graduate program but I’m 5 months late Embarassed
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