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Silver (Edge) Lining to Dream, Meaning Business, Dec'12

 
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sumantra
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Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Posts: 4485
Location: New Delhi

PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 7:33 pm    Post subject: Silver (Edge) Lining to Dream, Meaning Business, Dec'12 Reply with quote

Silver (Edge) Lining to Dream, Meaning Business, Dec'12


http://www.airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic13278.html

49.1 Long Haul...the weird title, of course

As has become customary for me, I spend hours contemplating a
weird title, and even longer, trying to explain my choice of
words, and the title, in general.
After months of hoping to get a chance to do so on an official
trip, I had a one unsuccessful attempt at trying to fly the Air India
Dream)liner, prior to this - a trip to Madurai.
This was the dark cloud for the dark horse.
From the Horse's Mouth, every dark cloud has a silver lining.
The silver lining also refers to my Silver Edge Club status - one
which I briefly enjoyed. The Silver Edge Club is Air India's
first status rung, with privileges such as an increased baggage
allowance, 10% extra frequent flyer points, and one upgrade
voucher. The `Dream' above refers to the Dream)liner, and the
`Business' refers to the upgrade voucher, wherein I indulged in a
bit of vanity, and used the upgrade voucher to upgrade myself
from the Plebeian Economy class I always travel in, to the
Business class, that too on a Dream)liner.

Does the reader remember Mr. Frederick Foresight?
Yes, he is the same witty gentleman (who is credited with having
a lot of foresight in official matters), who has an amazing command
over the Queen's Language. He helped me edit a bit of a trip
report too, ironically, a Madurai round trip, quite some time
back, and has been with me on another official trip to Indore as well.
Needless to say, he was aghast at reading this title, when I
happened to mention this to him, in an email.
I quote his reply, verbatim:

What has gotten into you? I don't like this at all.
What about `Dreaming of Business: A-Class Act'?
Or maybe `Strictly Business, With Pleasure'.
Or even `At the Business End of the B(o)eing'?
I like the strictly business one better than the others, by the way.


I have mentioned the above snippet from Mr. Frederick Foresight's email
just to highlight what an amazing person we are missing on this
forum. His wit, humour and descriptions would make him an
excellent writer - not just of trip reports alone.

49.2 For No Rhyme, or Reason

I was to be on a plane less than 5 hours after coming back to my
hometown, Delhi. Unlike last December at just around this time, I
was not transiting through Delhi, the airport. Rather, I was
transiting through my home, much to the dislike of The Wife (`TW').

The reader would recount that I had just come back on another dream
trip, to the city of dreams, with The Wife and Junior (`TW' and
`Jr' to the reader well-versed with my scheme of things). It was a
domestic trip on board a B777, the first for the three of us. While
I have taken quite a few trips on board the Air India 777s (both
the B777-200LR, the `B77L'; and the B777-300ER, the `B77ER), I have
never travelled domestically on them. What better an opportunity
could I get than a trip between India's two capitals, the
economic capital, and the political one. The former used to be my
home for 6 years, the latter, for most of the rest, barring a few
years. A two-part trip report on the above can be found at the
following URLs:

Dec'12: Mumbai. Mum-bhai/Sum-bhai, MBBS. Part 1
http://www.airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic13255.html
Dec'12: Mumbai. Mum-bhai/Sum-bhai, MBBS. Part 2
http://www.airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic13264.html

This trip report joins hands with the above two, in having my
flat-bed scanner working over-time, to scan in pictures taken
with my Analog SLR. Of course, it would have been better if I had
scanned in the negatives, but as usual, I had misplaced most of
them. The second reason for the scanned pictures is a hard disk
crash, which wiped out most of my cell-phone pictures, along with
three entire trip reports, which I will have to painstakingly
re-construct.

In a previous trip report, I have introduced the reader to a
prominent Delhi spotter friend, who keeps me updated with
prominent aircraft movements in and around Delhi, and takes a
special interest in the goings-on at Air India.
I refer to him as `Mr. All-Stare MacLean'.
The bad pun on his name comes from his constant staring at
aircraft movements. The second part of his pseudonym above,
refers to the fact that he likes good food, but eats very little,
which keeps him lean and thin.
This also reminds me of the famous Nursery Rhyme.

``Jack Sprat
could eat no fat,
His wife could eat no lean.
They enjoyed their food so very much
that they licked their platters clean.''

As we started towards IGIA T3, I could not but help remarking to
my favourite friendly cab driver, that the fog had not yet set
in, in Delhi. The sky was quite clear, and I could see the stars.
The heavenly bodies, that is.
Oops, I do not mean it literally, nor do I refer to film stars.
I was again, reminded of the full Nursery rhyme, all three
paragraphs of which are below:

``Twinkle, Tinkle Little star
How I wonder what you are
Up, above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky.

When the blazing sun is gone
When he nothing shines upon
Then you show your little light
Twinkle, Twinkle all the night.

When the traveller in the dark
Thanks you for your tiny spark
He would know not where to go
If you did not twinkle so.''

This gentleman is a very careful driver,
else we may have seen the stars, figuratively.
I hoped that I would not break my head.
Somehow, thought after thought occupied my head, and I was simply
lost in the world of Nursery rhymes.

``Jack and Jill
went up the hill
to fetch a pail of water
Jack fell down
and broke his crown
and Jill came tumbling after.

Up Jack got
and home did trot
As fast as he could caper.
He went to bed
to mend his head
With vinegar and brown paper.''

49.3 Checking out the plane...at Check-in

I was groggy-eyed from the lack of sleep (or counting sheep, as I
thought, sheepishly), as I walked up to the check-in counter, and showed
the agent my web check-in printout. As the lady went about the
process, I asked a bit hesitantly, if the plane for my trip
today, would indeed be a Dream)liner. The lady was taken aback,
and in what seemed like an eternity to me (with my heart jumping
up and down in anticipation
), she finally confirmed this,
with a sweet smile.
`I guess you are eager to try out the new Dream)liner. You are
not alone in this!'
I decided to drop the next salvo.
`Mam, I have an upgrade voucher, can I use it on this flight?'
This changed her expression a bit, and immediately changed the
geography on my face. I was palpitating now.
The tension was excruciating.
`You could have told me a bit earlier - I have already checked
you in for Economy. Anyway, this is not an issue. I need to check
if there is any seat available.'
Her last statement was the reason for my apprehension.
`Today is your lucky day,' she said, with the smile coming back.
There was one seat left.
One empty seat in the Business Class.
And it would be mine.
I heart pounded further, much like a bass drum.
`Mam, might this be a window seat, by any chance?'
She stared at me in the eye.
`Why yes, it is!'
There was a drum-roll in my mind - with snare-drums, or kettle-drums,
as I triumphantly reached out for my boarding pass, thanked her,
and almost ran towards the security check.
Where was my sleepy feeling gone, now?
I made my customary visit to the escalator to the food court, to
check the goings-on outside, and indeed verify, whether it would
be a Dream)liner. My trepidation was put to rest with a view of a
stocky small wide-body on a domestic wide-body gate.

I sat down trying to reflect on the events that had just taken place.
I had not heeded Mr. All-Stare MacLean's advice.
He had suggested, in unequivocal terms, that the best way to use
my Business Class upgrade voucher would be on an Air India B777,
more so since I had a possible Mumbai trip lined up, where I
could use it on a better seat, with a better IFE system -
overall, a better choice. I was obsessed with trying to travel on
the Dream)liner, and I had all of a sudden, taken a precipitate
decision to use my upgrade voucher. Given the uncertainty
associated with the Dream)liner operations world-wide, it was a
chance I was taking. I could have used this voucher on an
A321/0/9 in the Business class, since this was the plane type
which was more common, for my trips around the country. Mr.
All-Stare MacLean had given me some really sound advice, which
would make me make the most of a golden (read, Silver)
opportunity. After all, the Silver Edge Club elevation of my
status would not last very long, since I do not travel around
that frequently, less so, on international trips.
It turned out to be a good decision.
I was a bit unsure about whether I would be allowed to use the
upgrade voucher on the domestic leg of an international flight,
such as AI 102 BOM-DEL, which I eventually ended up taking, in
January 2013, which was within my period of Silver Edge status.
What if the check-in agent denied my request?
Even if my fears were unfounded, the Dream)liners would be
grounded in mid-January, and I would not end up having any
other B777 flight which would coincide with my brief period of
status with Air India. My voucher would have remained unused.

The itinerary for this leg of my trip would be as follows:

Set out 20 Dec (Thu) for Chennai from New Delhi
AI 439: Air India (B788) [Seat: 36J; PNR: JMPN3]
IGIA T3, New Delhi - Kamraj (Domestic) Terminal, Chennai
New Delhi (DEL) - Chennai (MAA)
[06:55 am - 09:45 am]

36J was my original choice for my preferred seat, in case I did
not manage to use my upgrade voucher. My actual seat number was 01J!

49.4 Boarding, and On-Board. No getting bored!

I went to the gate, where the gate agent looked at my boarding
pass, smiled, and requested me to wait at the left, where the
Business class boarding gate was. I was on cloud nice.
My heart was pumping loudly.
The other gate was filling up rapidly, pointing to good loads.
Many people came in and sat down, in the area where I was. I was
not surprised, as the check-in agent had told me that I had
snagged the last available Business class seat.
We were given the green signal to board, and were welcomed by a
lady up front, with a smile, and hands folded in a `namaskaar',
the traditional Indian greeting.

The cheerful cabin crew started with a warm moist towel, which
was very refreshing, since I had hardly had any sleep at night.
The service started with a welcome drink, with a choice between orange,
apple and grape juices. I went in for the former. Yes, I had
hardly slept at night, and this had whetted my appetite, much
like a spark is, to some spilt kerosene. Though the juice glasses
were quite nice, I would have liked to see the Air India insignia
on them. Captain Deepak Dutta was in command.

What I saw simply amazed me. Earlier, I had estimated that
loads on this flight would be excellent, going by the number of
people crowding around Gate 34A and B.
When I sat down, I still pinched myself.
All 18 Business class seats were occupied.
A good number of them looked the well-heeled business crowd, who
unlike me, were well-versed with the intricacies of Business
class travel. It was evident from their body language, and some
familiarity with the seats, even if they had not been on a
Dream)liner before. I was waiting with bated breath, though I
decided not to show it to the external well-heeled world around me.
At least, I tried not to.

I waited for the GEnx to start up. As has been described many
times, there was the distinctive shuddering of the plane, and the
mild hum of the engines was heard. The plane was quite heavily
loaded, and Captain Dutta made a long and powerful take-off on
the new runway 29, taking off over Dwarka, and banking to the
left. Here is a picture from my seat some time after we took off.



I noticed the complete difference between my behaviour, with that
of the well-heeled travellers all around me. I was simply too
excited, and fired up my analog SLR in no time at all, and was
just going snap-snap at the first available instance. The
crowd around me simply paid no attention to me, or the ambiance
all around us - which actually suited me fine!

By now, there was some good natural light around the cabin.
My attention went to the interesting arrangement of the LED
reading lights, and air louvres - the signature Boeing Sky
Interiors, and the air ducts.



The cabin crew had got busy in preparing for the meal service -
something I always looking forward to, but I was also looking
forward to this photo opportunity. The next image shows the mood
lighting, and some natural light in the lovely cabin, after the
curtains had been drawn aside near the front galley.



The seat controls looked simply superb to me,
a seasoned Economy class traveller.



The alert reader would also notice two booklets that held a lot
of exciting future prospects for me - the menu cards.
I played around a bit with the seat controls. As I directed my
attention away from the interesting parts towards the middle of
the seat, my eyes fell on the part below the arm rest, where the
IFE control unit was nestled, along with a place to hold a cup.



Yes, this place also had the power port for the seat - a
universal adapter, along with a USB port for personal entertainment devices.
I was pleased. And...did I forget the awesome leg-room?



The awesome leg-room in a Business class seat was accentuated by
the fact that it was a bulk-head seat, too. The cushioned part in
front had a signature pearly white Air India blanket on the
bottom rack, newspapers and some of my files on the
cream-coloured cushion in front, and my Analog SLR casing right
on top of it. I didn't like the carpet pattern, much.
Much has been written about the slightly gaudy colours of the
seat covers, and the patterns inside - much of that is a bit
true, unfortunately. I will dwell a bit on this soon - the seat
itself, but like a little child, I was more concerned about the
biggest toy attraction around - the automatic darkening of the
windows. It was smooth to touch, and since I had read about this control,
I knew about the little delay to expect, and in all my
excitement, did not turn off the automatic gain control of my
analog SLR. The next set of images shows the different brightness
levels of the window, compensated by the camera's AGC - which
even for an analog camera, is quite considerable,
as the reader can see.











Now, coming to the seat itself. I got up and clicked a snap, with
the harsh effects of the flash clearly showing on the personal
reading lights on the centre console.



I had been waiting for...the food, sure, but also
needed a bio-break. As soon as the seat belt sign went off, I
looked around me. The well-healed crowd perhaps did not hear the
ding, or the announcement, but I was off the blocks in no time. Yes,
to the right was the distinctive sliding door of the Dream)liner
lavatory, and the inside was a bit dark. On locking the door, the
lights came into action. Yes, the wash room was well stocked,
there were two bottles of hand sanitiser, and two of a hand and
face lotion, which had a line inscribed on it, a message to the
effect that the contents had something that would work well in
the air-conditioned environment of the plane interior. The
automatic controls looked interesting. I was also quick, lest I
miss some action in the main cabin. What that action was, I guess
the reader may have already guessed. I was listening with rapt
attention apt for my interests. The light engine hum advertised
perhaps the quietest cabin in the history of flight.

I sat down again, and engaged the folding screen from its
position inside the arm rest. I started fiddling with the
touch-screen, which had the Thales i8000 entertainment system.
The controls were very responsive, both on the control panel
(which I was used to, having used it on the Air India B777s),
as well as the touchscreen.
For once, I went for the touchscreen,
and was not disappointed.
The contents disappointed me, somewhat.



The Thales i4000 and i4500 on the Air India B777s typically have
much more, in terms of the contents. The reader familiar with my
scheme of things, would know what I settled for.



Yes, the audio selection, with old Hindi film music. While Hindi
is not my mother tongue, I am reasonably well-versed with the
language (being a Delhi'ite), and like much of the people in this
country, like film music.

49.5 What a Breakfast!

I held my breath for the next important event in an Air India
flight. For this event, I hold my breath, and release it, and
savour the aroma. Yes, I am refer to the meal service, here.
The trays came out `from the fold' in no time at all, with my
hands matching the anticipation of the digestive juices. While
the cabin crew were setting the tables of the well-heeled in the
cabin, I had done the job myself, and a lady put a nicely
starched napkin on the folding tray table.



I must go towards the more important things in life, first.
Food, of course. Breakfast would be served on the flight.
...and here it comes!



It started with a very fresh and warm croissant.
Yes, the butter that went with it (though not served on a
ramekin), was rock hard and cold, exactly the way I like it.
There was a strawberry preserve to go with it, too. Just as I was
putting my finishing touches on this great start to the day,
another lady came in with a tray full of sweet bakery items. They
looked much like a square roll (whatever that means, though the
reader would have figured out the main idea, by now), with some
great fruit-based filling inside. It was finger-licking good.
The crockery that came with the meal was impressive (at least,
for a person who always travels in the moo-bleat class). Each
item had the new Air India flying swan insignia, or the Konark
wheel sun part of it. The water glass had the intermediate logo
on it, the upward pointed Centaur, which in my opinion, was
simply in bad taste. I liked the original stylised Centaur, and
simply love the new flying swan insignia. Of course, consistency
in the presentation would have been better.
The main course invitingly stared at me from the plate.
We were offered a choice of vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare,
as is quite usual. I went in for the latter, as usual.

It was not an easy choice, however.
We Indians have converted vegetarian cooking into an amazing fine
art. The choices were, according to the menu card (which had a
line of explanation of the contents, and the accompaniments). the
part in single inverted quotes is in verbatim, from the menu card.

1. Chole Panir Peshawari - Kulcha
`Chick peas & cottage cheese cooked in a tangy gravy & served
with leavened Indian flat bread'
2. Aloo Mutter Ghughni
`Potatoes & green peas tossed with fresh coriander & green
chillies'
3. Upma
`Along with Coconut Chutney'
4. Mysore Masala Uthappam
`Lentil pancake with savoury topping'
5. Keerai Wada
`Deep fired lentil and spinach dumplings'
6. Upma
`Along with Sambhar and Coconut Chutney'

We had been handed out some impressively printed menu cards.



This was a nicely designed item, with an appetising sight of Indian spices
forming the background, and two rich curries depicted on the left.



The next image shows the items I have just written above, above.



While the fonts and sizes look reasonably nice in English, some
of the Hindi ones look a bit off-taste, at least to me.

There was a difficult choice of the egg preparation.
The first choice was `Mushroom Chive Omelette', and the second
was `Baked Crespelle with Akuri with Cheesy Spinach Sauce'. Both
the items were accompanied by slow roasted tomato (which was
extremely flavourful). The former was served with grilled chicken
sausages and potato gratin, with the latter having chicken
croquette, and herbed potato wedges. I went in for the latter
option, and gave an eyeful to my neighbour (his tray, rather),
who had ordered the former, before I had a mouthful...er, much
more. The potato wedges were done well, with the herb and spice
combination doing its visage and taste no harm at all. The
Crespelle was simply superb. The thin cover had a generous amount
of cheddar cheese and chopped spinach, with a nice scrambled egg
filling inside, with condiments. It made a wonderful treat.
The fresh fruit bowl had two slices each of watermelon, musk
melon (honey dew melon), and papaya. The colour shades from the
red to the orange, with an off-white in between, was complemented
by a lone violet grape. This is something I always enjoy.
There was a chicken mince croquette, or `chop', as some call it.
It was tender and well-marinated, and simply melted in the mouth.
The beverage service started, and as the reader would expect, I
went in for the coffee, lest I fall asleep in the midst of the
Dream)liner experience. Ah, that is only an excuse.
Don't I simply love to always go in for it, and then write
something to the effect of it being an uninspiring, or bland.
This time was no exception.
Warm milk was served from a small pitcher, with the light brown
instant coffee coming from a stylish large jug.

The last page of the menu card has me salivating every time I go
through it. Spices, and in many varieties.
Variety anyway, is the spice of life.



I have attached an image at a better resolution, but have no gone
overboard with a huge image, either. I will list the contents,
below, since they have a witty quip or two, which I associated
warmly with my gluttonous tendencies. The alert reader may spot
some typographical errors in the printed menu.

`The Soul of Indian Cuisine'
Turmeric (haldi): Used in most Indian dishes. Imparts rich
looks. Great aroma & flavour when ground before cooking.
Benefits: Blood purifier, improves liver function,
prevents coughs & colds, improves skin tone and is an antiseptic.

Ginger (adrak): Lends a distinctly sharp taste and aroma.
Benefits: Improves digestion, lowers cholesterol, controls
blood pressure, inhibits cancer, prevents coughs & colds, has
anti-nausea and anti-clotting properties.

Garlic (Lasun): Pungent smell. A great complement to
ginger. Together emit an appetising aroma when saute'ed as
seasoning in most dishes.
Benefits: Lowers cholesterol, inhibits rheumatism, has
anti-cancer, anti-flatulent and anti-bacterial properties.

Black Pepper: Very aromatic when freshly ground. Adds
`bite' to the food giving it a mysterious after-taste
Benefits: Effectively wards off colds & throat
infections.

Clove (Laung): Used wholly in rice and meat preparations.
Also used in powdered from in baked goods.
Benefits: Controls gum & tooth infections, anti-nausea,
combats colds, strengthens nerves and improves circulation.

Cumin (Jeera): One of the main ingredients in curries.
Used wholly as popular seasoning.
Benefits: Good digestive especially to `settle' a heavy
meal.

Cardamom (elaichi), Cinnamon (dalchini) and Nutmeg (jaifal):
Mostly ground and sprinkled for their pleasing aroma and subtle
flavours. Indispensable to many preparations including desserts
made from milk.
Benefits: Cardamom prevents formation of kidney stones,
cinnamon helps fight diabetes & food poisoning while nutmeg helps
relieve stress.

Saffron (Kesar): The most expensive spice. Imparts great
looks and exclusive flavour to rice, meats, seafood and desserts.
Benefits: Cures anaemia, is a heart and nerve tonic and
has anti-ageing properties.

Coriander (dhania): The most south after garnish. Enhances
freshness & flavour of any dish.
Benefits: Cures indigestion. The seeds can reduce high
cholesterol.

Red Chilli pepper (lal mirchi): Gives Indian curries and
gravies their irresistible looks and legendary `hot' character.
Benefits: Said to contain Vitamin-C but is most likely to
be effective in curbing tendencies to over-eat!

The last one had me in splits. I also noticed the text on the left
side of the page. `BOM_DEL_617A_OCT2012'. I wonder what the
number `617A' indicates. The `617' is possibly
not a flight number, since AI 617 is a BOM-HYD-CCU flight.
Mr. All-Stare MacLean told me that he has seen this breakfast
menu on another Air India flight at around the same time.

A common feature of the service was a set of cheerful members of
the cabin crew serving trays to passengers individually, doing
the job in parallel, maintaining a brisk pace, and at the same time,
not giving the impression of hurrying it up. The attentive group
also cleared trays quickly, taking into account the differential
`consumption rates' of the passengers. They did this beautifully,
without ostensibly keeping an eye on passengers, or making
slow-eating gluttons like me hurry up.

My over-enthusiasm to try out the coffee overcame the initial and
normal practice of finish a meal with a coffee. There was a
Nestle mango-flavoured yogurt as dessert, along with the fruits.
The third item (the sweet square roll) had already been acted
upon by my digestive juices, and had possibly expedited the usual
four hour procedure that our stomachs are so good at.

There was the usual (for the Air India Dream)liners, that is) of a
safety demo prior to landing. This was my second feather-touch
landing in about 10 hours, in my second Air India Boeing
wide-body flight in the same intervening time period. First, a
B777-300ER (`77W'), and now, the newest off the stable, the
B787-800 (`788'/`Dream)liner'). As we waited on a taxi-way after
landing land-side on the main runway, we noticed a Blue Dart B732F
coming in to land.

49.6 Time to get back...

The two-and-a-half days just passed in a flash.
My accommodation was arranged at Hotel Ginger, at the IIT Madras
TechPark, which is just adjacent to the Taramani Gate of IIT Madras.
The return flight was from the International terminal, at
Chennai. My itinerary for the return flight was as follows:

Set out 22 Dec (Sat) for New Delhi from Chennai
AI 43: Air India (A319) [Seat: 04A; PNR: JMQ6H]
Anna (International) Terminal, Chennai - IGIA T3, New Delhi
Chennai (MAA) - New Delhi (DEL)
[09:30 pm - 12:10 am]

The reader may note that this is circa December 2012, when the
old terminal buildings were in operation. It was dark too, and we
could not see much outside. We? Yes, I had a senior
colleague coming back on this flight, with me. Mr. All-Stare
MacLean had already told me the registration of the plane we
would get on this flight. It was `CE', the `Energy Saver' plane,
VT-SCE. This was an old A319, in the interim `Indian' livery.
Mr. All-Stare MacLean had texted me that as we were entering, the
plane was flying over Nagpur. Our flight would be late.
My senior colleague started grumbling.
As we filled up the Customs forms at the check-in, the colleague
started grumbling about airlines not informing passengers well in
advance, of delayed flights, and gradually pushing back the
expected time of departure, perhaps to avoid some official
clause regarding serving refreshments to waiting passengers.

I had been quite excited about this flight, from the
international terminal. Was it because this was a domestic leg of
an international flight? Was it because I would be getting to a
terminal which I did not usually frequent? The above two reasons
were quite secondary. I had been excited at the prospect of
meeting AI.net member and forum moderator, Varun. He was to set
out from the same terminal for Kuwait, but I had managed to
goof-up on the timings of his flight. His flight would leave
early next morning, I was off by about half-a-day. I realised my
folly after some frantic communication over PMs (personal
messages) on the forum, emails, and SMSes.

Yes, I was also excited to be in the international terminal - my
second time after 2008, when The Wife and I had taken IC 589, the
Sharjah flight from Chennai, via Tiruchirapalli and
Thiruvananthapuram. We were destined for the last destination
mentioned above. We had come in on

Set out 05 Mar (Wed) from New Delhi to Chennai
IC 439: Air India (A321) [PNR: RDSFJQ]
New Delhi (DEL) T1A - Chennai (MAA)
[06:25 am - 08:55 am]

This flight was The Wife's first experience with PTVs.

Set out 05 Mar (Wed) from Chennai for
Thiruvananthapuram via Tiruchirapalli
IC 589: Air India (A320) [PNR: RDSFJQ]
Chennai (MAA) T2 - Tiruchirapalli (TRZ) - Thiruvananthapuram (TRV)
[01:10 pm - 02:00 pm; 02:45 pm - 03:25 pm]

We had ambled across from the arrivals part of the Kamraj domestic
terminal, to the Anna international terminal, and enjoyed the
views of the apron from inside, before boarding our flight.
Quarter to six years later, the terminal looked quite different.
Gone was the apron view from the staircase, from where The Wife
and I had been enamoured by the slight of a Thai airways A332
parked right in front. This place had been covered up. After the
security check, I missed the portion where we had sat to board
our flight - much had been re-oriented since then, into a set of
connected sub-parts. The overall appearance of the terminal was
tired, and a bit unkempt, though it was not very dirty. The
air-conditioning at our part of the terminal was not working well.
There were very few power-ports around.
Construction on the new terminal building was visible from some
of the windows outside. I fired up my laptop, and got to work.
My colleague got to checking emails on his Samsung Galaxy phone.
Some time later, I decided to do a complete round of the terminal
building, looking (in vain, it turned out) for a place which
would offer a good view of the activity on the tarmac, outside.

49.7 Boarding, after getting bored

We boarded from Gate 1.
I observed a sea of humanity in a long line, waiting to board the
aircraft. Indeed, it was a full flight - there was not a single
seat empty in the Economy section. The Business class had two
seats occupied out of the total of 8. Good loads also meant that
on the flight, I may not be left with too many (any, in fact)
choice for dinner. I pitied my senior colleague, a hard-core
non-vegetarian, who was sitting in the middle of the plane.

Captain Amitesh Ahuja was in command, with Ms Raksheena Siddiqui
as the cabin in-charge. For once, the latter was a middle-aged
lady, and the other members of the cabin crew were all young
people. We pushed back at about 10:10 pm, and Captain Ahuja made
a long and powerful take-off from runway 07, and turned to the
left soon after lifting off.

49.8 Dinner

When the seat belt sign was switched off, the smells around the
cabin were not exactly what I had expected. One of the culinary
delights of the last Air India flight out of Chennai is a mildly spicy
version of Chicken Chettinad(u). The smiling Ms Siddiqui told
the passengers in the first row of the Economy class that they
had loaded very few non-vegetarian boxes on this flight, and they
were lucky to have a choice. I did not know what to expect. By
the time the lady came to my seat, I noted four boxes still left
on the cart, in the non-vegetarian oasis amidst the sea of
vegetarian boxes. A passenger in front had asked what the
contents of the non-vegetarian box were. The cheerful Ms Siddiqui
answered that it had a chicken preparation.
But of course.
`A chicken preparation', and not `THE chicken preparation',
whose aroma I was missing on this flight.

The dinner started with an Indian green salad. There were
two pieces of tomato (the hybrid, or the `Bombay' kind), two
serrated cucumber slices, two slices of serrated orange carrot
(the `Nilgiri carrot of the South, or the `Vilayati gajar' of the
North), a refreshing yellow slice of lemon, all served on a bed
of lettuce (salad leaf). After sprinkling the lemon juice over
the salad (most of it, at least), I proceeded to devour the
healthy snack. Prior to this, the eternally famished one had
finished the nice croissant with rock hard ice-cold butter,
relatively quickly.
The main course sprung a surprise when I opened the Aluminium
lid, and sprinkled the remaining lemon juice onto the preparations.
The left had a coconut-based dry preparation of what in Mumbai is
termed as `Elephant's Foot', an underground stem, whose
preparation with shredded coconut powder, was extremely tasty. In
the middle was a bed of Kollam rice, with soft Arhar/Toor dal
(pulses) grains adding contrast to the white rice.
The non-vegetarian offering was a fine chicken-based preparation,
in a puree'd spinach gravy. Both items were neither over-spicy,
more importantly, were extremely tasty.
But it was not Chicken Chettinad(u)!
The dessert as a nice small slice of Mysore Pak, literally a
preparation from Mysore, so named after the item was first
prepared at the Wodeyar Maharaja's kitchen, and it met the
ruler's enthusiastic approval. Or at least, so say the legends.
Coffee was the usual instant kind, it was at least hot and strong.
I had had a very hard day, and was extremely sleepy.
The rest of the trip was much like a usual late night return into
Delhi, and the colleague and I headed out to our residences in a cab.
Yes, I know...as member Ameya and others have pointed out, my
trip reports seem to be top-heavy, with much more attention paid
to the onward journey, rather than the return one.
I sincerely apologise to the reader for the same, I will try to
keep this in mind from now on.
---
Links to my 49 trip reports:
https://sites.google.com/site/sumantratrip/
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Theairplaneguy4ever
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Joined: 26 Sep 2012
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Location: Kochi, Kerala, India

PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2013 11:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brilliant! Just Brilliant! This is by far one of the best TRs you have written sir!

The descriptions and the build up of the TR is sensational!

Quote:
which wiped out most of my cell-phone pictures, along with
three entire trip reports, which I will have to painstakingly
re-construct.


Nasty. I guess it's hard for someone who has used an analog for so long, but why not make the jump to digital? Much easier to work with, though I guess that is more of a negative!

Quote:
`Mam, might this be a window seat, by any chance?'
She stared at me in the eye.
`Why yes, it is!'


Wow, that is really a dream come true. Biz + window + dreamliner, what more do you want? Smile

Quote:
I went to the gate, where the gate agent looked at my boarding
pass, smiled, and requested me to wait at the left, where the
Business class boarding gate was.


One question, do AI not give lounge vouchers for upgrades? I found that a bit strange..

Quote:
Now, coming to the seat itself. I got up and clicked a snap, with
the harsh effects of the flash clearly showing on the personal
reading lights on the centre console.


I guess this has been said numerous times, but the seat doesn't look at all impressive.

Quote:
It was not an easy choice, however.


So true, I bet AI is the only airline to offer eight choices in J on these short flights.

And of course, the food descriptions have left me hungry as usual and so, I must grab a bite to eat.

Splendid job again, thanks for sharing!

Cheers

Theairplaneguy4ever
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2013 6:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Sir, for all the kind words!
Theairplaneguy4ever wrote:
One question, do AI not give lounge vouchers for upgrades? I found that a bit strange.
I'm not sure if it was my ignorance, or the check-in agent's. I would have imply loved a lounge invitation.

Theairplaneguy4ever wrote:
So true, I bet AI is the only airline to offer eight choices in J on these short flights.
I was simply amazed. This was not Dream)liner specific either, as I have seen the same menu card on a A321 flight in J, at around the same time, as I have written.
Cheers, Sumantra.
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jbalonso777
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Joined: 05 Jul 2012
Posts: 1425
Location: Never, never land

PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2013 9:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, the day began bad with the terrible news of B777 incident, then a boring Formula One race and now a hopeless tennis game.
Well, I still knew I could always cheer myself up with the Sumantra TR I was anticipating a long time: J class onboard the B787. And it has gone beyond my expectations.

Wow, 2 wide body domestic flights in the span of a few hours?
That is a dream a come true - for me atleast Smile

Interesting you had so many nursery rhymes going through your mind, well, who doesn't enter a stage of childish thinking when you know something exciting is going to happen in a few hours?!

You sir, had possibly one of the BEST check in experiences an individual could hope for Smile

Interesting facts about the various J class types in the Air India fleet. Obviously, you are an encyclopedia for the same. Well, I am kind of desperate, so I would have used my J class vouchers at any given time. Let it be on a old A319 or the best-in-class B77W.

Sir a question, was the B788 attached to a single aerobridge? Or were there two branches to it? I'm really eager to know as my flight is in 6 days Very Happy

Clearly you got some amazing Maharajah treatment up front, and we are certainly being treated to an amazing set of pictures. Once again, is it still time to get digitized?

8. Options. For. Breakfast. Oh. My.
8 options for a flight which is just 2 and a half hours long!

You certainly did have the best treat in the air I suppose? Every detail was fantastically portrayed, thank you for sharing this with us!

I liked the descriptions of the old MAA International Terminal, there are scenes you have described which I have never seen, and I never will.

Another superbly crafted Trip Report, and with your signature touch to it. Thank you for sharing it!
I hope I didn't pressurize you a lot into posting this as soon as possible Sad

Regards
Jish
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Spiderguy252
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Joined: 10 Aug 2007
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2013 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Easily your best TR thus far, Sumantra!
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sumantra
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Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Posts: 4485
Location: New Delhi

PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 7:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for your appreciation, Varun and Jishnu!
Varun, I look forward to meeting you sometime, at least when I do not goof up with the timings. You will have lots to tell me about MAA and BOM, for instance.
Yes, I had some time on my hands in Pune, when I just typed up the remaining part and sent it, only to be swamped by the sad news of the SFO accident. A J class experience was the first one for me, and given that I will not have too many of these in the future, I tried to describe it as much as I enjoyed every minute of it. Yes, the domestic wide-body gates at DEL IGIA T3 have two aero-bridges, and for once, I took the path I had longingly seen well-heeled travellers taking, to the plane. The old MAA International terminal - in a way, most of us would be glad to have the eyesore gone away. I think they will have the new one, and renovate the old one, to join it with the new. I do not know - MAA regulars can tell us better. At many a smaller airport, they have done this integration quite well. PNQ is a prime example of the same.
Cheers, Sumantra.
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ameya
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Joined: 09 May 2007
Posts: 3591
Location: Pune,Maharashtra

PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congrats for a great Dream)Liner experience. Not many have had that experience yet and glad you made it before the grounding.

As has been discussed here before, I think the B788 routes will have a slight disadvantage against competition in the premium offering criteria.

Another request to have To and Fro as different TRs Sir, I also hope that will let you key in the reports more frequently.
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himmat01
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Joined: 19 Dec 2006
Posts: 1369
Location: DEL

PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 11:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent TR. Enjoyed going through it. Your experience is similar to my first J class trip on AI B777-300ER.

I don't think any other Indian airline offers such a large choice on its domestic network.
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Spiderguy252
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Joined: 10 Aug 2007
Posts: 4257
Location: Indian Ocean

PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sumantra wrote:
Thank you for your appreciation, Varun and Jishnu!
Varun, I look forward to meeting you sometime, at least when I do not goof up with the timings. You will have lots to tell me about MAA and BOM, for instance.


I'll give you a call when you're in MAA next, when is that likely?
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Nimish
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 5:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a lovely TR and flight Sumantra - thanks for posting. And 8 choices for veg breakfast does seem like a tad too much!
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sumantra
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Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Posts: 4485
Location: New Delhi

PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2013 8:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ameya, Himmat and Nimish: thanks a lot for going through the whole hog!

ameya wrote:
Another request to have To and Fro as different TRs Sir, I also hope that will let you key in the reports more frequently.
Ameya Sir, it is only TR writers as you who can pull off great TRs even without pictures, and can key in a comprehensive report, almost as soon as the trip is done! My reports have much more flab, and the relative lack of information content makes it imperative for me to cover it up with my usual riff-raff. However, the impetus for this report has been due to three people, two on this forum: you and Jishnu! The forum may be interested to hear that I sent this in on Sat 06 Jul, from Ameya-land Pune, even more pumped up to do the job after meeting Ameya in person, that very morning! Thank you for all your encouragement, I will try to expedite my reports more. The next one (in the works) is:
50. Dec'12: BLR, Double DLR Disappointment
`Double Dream)liner Disappointment on a December Bengaluru trip'.

himmat01 wrote:
Your experience is similar to my first J class trip on AI B777-300ER. I don't think any other Indian airline offers such a large choice on its domestic network.
Himmat - we would love to hear about this trip! And of course, the culinary experience, as well. It has been quite a while since you posted a trip report, Sir!

Nimish wrote:
And 8 choices for veg breakfast does seem like a tad too much!
Very Happy

Spiderguy252 wrote:
I'll give you a call when you're in MAA next, when is that likely?
I look forward to that, Varun - any chance you may transit through Chennai around the 27-28 Jul weekend? You are in Vellore, right? I will again try to get a Dream)liner ride, on both legs. More details over email.
Cheers, Sumantra.
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Spiderguy252
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2013 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sumantra wrote:
I look forward to that, Varun - any chance you may transit through Chennai around the 27-28 Jul weekend? You are in Vellore, right? I will again try to get a Dream)liner ride, on both legs. More details over email.
Cheers, Sumantra.


Not anymore, I'm in Chennai for good now - and I'll be heading to Bangalore only in September for an internship. We'll work something out on the weekend you've mentioned then, possibly near the airport or so - as that'd be convenient for your schedule. Smile
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stealthpilot
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Location: BLR, DXB

PostPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2013 6:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another great TR.
Sorry for the lack of comments, on your previous TRs and on all the others. I havnt been online in a while and I'm just reading all the trip reports together so not really going to say much Smile

On the 787, was the window shade dimmer dark enough?
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, stealthpilot - I am sure it must be tough to be away for quite a while, and then go through a deluge of posts...
stealthpilot wrote:
On the 787, was the window shade dimmer dark enough?
Quite effective!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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jbalonso777
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2013 12:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

stealthpilot wrote:
On the 787, was the window shade dimmer dark enough?

I had to use a rather slow shutter speed to get the image of the same! Very Happy
Regards
Jish
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sri_bom
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 11:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sumantra another brilliant report and lucky that you managed to get on Boeing’s latest toy the Dreamliner.

Given all the controversy surrounding the airplane which seems to have a fancy catching fire, I am sure travelers will be a bit nervous now to travel specially long haul. I hope the issues get sorted out and this continues to be a safe and reliable aircraft for years to come.
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks a lot, Srinivas - that was Dec'12. My score on getting a Dream)liner ride, which was 1 out of 4 at the time of the world-wide Jan'13 grounding, has remained so since. I have a Chennai trip coming up this weekend (27-28 Jul), I hope to get a Dream)liner experience again!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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