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NAG for NAG-pur, sNAG iN Raipur. Mar'13

 
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 25, 2013 10:49 pm    Post subject: NAG for NAG-pur, sNAG iN Raipur. Mar'13 Reply with quote

NAG for NAG-pur, sNAG iN Raipur. Mar'13


http://www.airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic13472.html

54.1 A NAGging Introduction

I start off with a NAG.
As I wrote in my last trip report
Nanded. And Dead Tired. Dizzy iN NDC. Mar'13
http://www.airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic13463.html
this trip report and the next one-and-a-half, will miss much in
terms of the names of the cockpit crew, food descriptions and
discussions, plane registrations, and many pictures as well,
owing to an unfortunate hard disk crash. The only positives will
perhaps be...the film camera print positives, which I have
scanned, and put in. I have Mr. All-Stare MacLean, a prominent
Delhi plane spotter, to thank for most of the information which I
had conveyed to him over SMSes, which he had lovingly stored, and
relayed back to me.

Does the reader remember Mr. Frederick Foresight?
He quipped, ``That one was pretty detailed for a disk crash.
I wonder what crashed the disk, though:
maybe your imagination running wild, or is Analog always better?''
I replied, ``The details had to come in from other sources, since
I do not remember the Devil (which has the de-tails/de-tales, anyway).''

The NAGging part over, and before I further nag about the fact
that I am no stranger to Nagpur, let me entice the reader a bit
with the sNAG part. The NAG-DEL flight is now via RPR, Raipur.
The plane went tech there.

54.2 Yet another Nagpur trip

The itinerary for my forward leg was as follows:

Set out 22 Mar (Fri) for Nagpur from New Delhi
AI 469: Air India (A319) [Seat: 04A; PNR: HGXC2]
IGIA T3, New Delhi - Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International
Airport (Sonegaon Airport), Nagpur
New Delhi (DEL) - Nagpur (NAG)
[05:45 am - 07:10 am]

Now, this was a surprise to me. AI 469 is quite a unique flight,
with a round trip having the same flight number. Earlier - in
fact, just in the previous year, AI 469 started at the same time,
and had the following itinerary:

New Delhi (DEL) - Raipur (RPR) - Nagpur (NAG)
[05:50 am - 07:30 am, 08:05 am - 08:40 am]
Nagpur (NAG) - New Delhi (DEL)
[09:10 am - 10:49 am]

And now, the plane got back to Delhi at around the same time, but
Mana Airport in Raipur was on the return leg. I was later to find
out that this was due to changed ATC timings at the Mana Airport,
which had a new terminal building, and had been renamed as the
Swami Vivekananda Airport. The timings at the time of my journey were:

New Delhi (DEL) - Nagpur (NAG)
[05:45 am - 07:10 am]
Nagpur (NAG) - Raipur (RPR) - New Delhi (DEL)
[07:40 am - 08:20 am; 08:55 am - 10:35 am]

As I have mentioned above, I am no stranger to the city. My first
`visit' to the place was in 2004, a memorable train trip from VT.
The next two, I have described in the following trip reports:
18. Going Bananas over Oranges: Nagpur, Aug'11
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic12333.html
32. Colour Range over the Orange City: NAG, Jan'12
http://www.airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic12803.html

A 05:45 am flight means setting out from my residence at a
quarter to four in the morning, and reaching a still-sleepy IGIA T3.
The ride for the day was the `Secure Copy' plane SCP: VT-SCP,
with Captain Gaurav Kukreja in command. I clicked the following
picture while the plane was banking over some typically semi-arid
Vidarbha farm regions, while coming in to land.



I do not have any notes about the food or the service on board.
I remember being contented when I had landed at Nagpur,
which meant that I had eaten well.
This was the sight of a plane I always look forward to: a
somewhat rare Boeing 720B, belonging to Captain Gupta's single
plane `Continental Airways', whose titles have now worn off,
revealing the earlier titles, that of the Atlanta SkyLarks.



There is something rather uniquely beautiful about the B707's
shape, as opposed to the other beautiful successful quad-jet
narrow-body, the DC-8. Was it simply the drogue aerial?
Was it the shape of the tail?
Was it the under-body fairing on some models?
Was it the shape of the wings?
Was it the four engines? The P&W JT8Ds and the RR Conway bypass ones?
After all, the B737 range owes much of its design to the B707,
and some B737 models are longer than the original B707, the B739,
for instance. To me, the B737 will always remain comparatively ugly
(even though the older B737 had similar eyebrow windows), even with
the wings in more recent B737 builds being tipped with nice winglets.

54.3 Not much to write about, at Nagpur

My working day started almost as soon as I had landed at Nagpur.
After a rather hearty lunch at a city hotel, I would nearly
collapse when a friend came to take me over for dinner, at one of
his favourite joints in the city.
I had a good sleep that night.
Early next morning, I refused my friend's offer to treat me to a
nice breakfast. We were getting a bit late, and I had to preserve
my hunger for the Air India breakfast. My itinerary was as follows:

Set out 23 Mar (Sat) for New Delhi from Nagpur
AI 469: Air India (A319) [Seat: 05F; PNR: HGXC2]
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport (Sonegaon Airport), Nagpur -
Mana Airport, Raipur - IGIA T3, New Delhi
Nagpur (NAG) - Raipur (RPR) - New Delhi (DEL)
[07:40 am - 08:20 am; 08:55 am - 10:35 am]

54.4 The first feature-less (and food-less) NAG-RPR leg

The plane on this leg was CH, the `Swiss Miss' plane, VT-SCH.
She made an on-the-dot arrival at Nagpur.
Captain S. Wadhwa was in command.
He executed a superb landing at Raipur. As we slowed down, there
were some strange noises, which came again when the plane turned
around at the end of the runway. This leg had more than 80% loads.
Quite a few passengers got down at Raipur, leaving only about 15
of us on board. A lot more would board at the city, but there was
some drama in store for me. The plane had been more than 80% full,
but my tummy was 100% empty.
I was hoping that the plane would turn around very quickly, and a
nice Air India breakfast would be served to us.
``B'fast, B fast. Snack, back!'' I texted my friends, in SMSpeak.
It was getting quite late by now, and we were finally asked to de-plane.
But before that, I had taken a few pictures of the nice Raipur
airport. This was a facade of the air-side.



This was the part to the left,


...and this, to the right:


As we de-planed, and walked back to the terminal, I noted that
the gull-wing MLG (Main Landing Gear) doors were open, with AI
Engineers performing some checks. Was there some problem with the
hydraulics? I also noticed that the `Swiss Miss' plane was
ETOPS-certified. Mr All-Stare MacLean told me that at one point
in time, she was the usual plane on the DEL-SIN flight.

54.5 sNAG at Raipur: AI handles the situation beautifully!

We all bunched up together. The Swami Vivekananda airport at
Mana, Raipur was spectacular in its sights. There were
fountains, shallow water areas, transparent perspex panels around the
water areas, bridges, and decorations with tribal themes.



Here is another picture of the impressive terminal, at the
arrivals part.



There were metal statues, and a copper plate, cut in the shape of
the state's geographic shape. Raipur is the capital of the state
of Chhattisgarh.



The following is a lounge, with lovely designs on the outside.



The departures part would be on the upper floor.



By this time, we were called land-side, and the Air India station
manager Mr. Sanjeev Suri was answering queries of some worried
passengers, and some irate ones. He assured all of us that we
would be back in Delhi by the late afternoon. Most of us calmed
down, and awaited further instructions. He asked around if there
were passengers with connecting flights. A few ladies shouted up,
they had been raising their voice at Mr. Suri some time back.
He calmly gave them details of all flights which would go via
Raipur, and offered to accommodate them on these: this included
flights of Indigo, and Jet Konnect. Just then, one young lady
accused him of bluffing, and demanded to be put on the next
flight to Mumbai, from where she would be able to connect to
Srinagar. Mr. Suri again kept his calm, and told her that he knew
the Air India schedules quite well, he also knew the Srinagar
airport timings, and said with conviction that whichever flight
she would take to Mumbai, and onwards, she would not be able
to make it to Srinagar that day. He said that her best bet was to
get back to Delhi, and the AI station manager there would get
her the next convenient connection, the next day.
When she persisted, Mr. Suri gave her the phone numbers of the AI
managers at Mumbai and Delhi, and asked her to check it for
herself. He also gave her his card which had his name and mobile
number, in case she wanted to report Mr. Suri to them. There was
the usual `never again on Air India' banter from a few people.
Some people then demanded refreshment. Mr. Suri calmly told them
that there was an apology of a snack counter at the new terminal,
and that he would be ashamed to arrange for any refreshments
there. However, he would do something much better, which would
leave a mark in the minds of one and all, including these doubting Thomases.

If I remember correctly, he transferred three people on other
flights, and pleasantly requested the rest of us to follow him to
a waiting mini-bus outside. He had arranged for a chartered
mini-bus, which was to take us, and some 10 other people who had
come to the airport by then to take the flight to Delhi. He
announced that the parts were to come in around 12:20 pm by the
Air India flight from Mumbai, and our flight would be expected to
set out around 4 or 4:30 pm. We were bused to one of the best
hotels around, somewhere between the airport and the city, Hotel GT.

From the outside too, the Swami Vivekananda terminal at Mana,
Raipur has an interesting design! The reader may note the
interesting design for the yellow-bordered office window complex,
and an interesting reflection on the windows, of the lovely scenery
outside.



We were all assigned rooms, some of us had to double up, but that
was perfectly fine. At 10:15 am, we were taken to a buffet
breakfast spread at the hotel, which had been put up for our
convenience. By now, most people were appreciating the efforts of
the cheerful station manager Mr. Suri.
The breakfast was well worth the wait.
I remember gorging on some peas-idlis: a nice combination of
pureed peas in idli batter, which had been steamed to perfection.
There were numerous other items as well, including fresh fruits,
juices, pasta, parAnThAs, and some nice pastries to round up a
sinful breakfast. Most of us fell asleep - I figured that out
when there were calls from the reception to our rooms, asking us
to get ready for a buffet lunch (which was also arranged
separately for us in the same large ballroom), and that we would
be able to check out at 01:30 pm.

Hotel accommodation, a breakfast and a lunch thrown in, for every
passenger on the plane, as well as those who were to board the
flight at Raipur, irrespective of whether the passenger had
purchased a cheap ticket - in this day and age?

This was like travel in the golden days of yore!
Indian Airlines and Air India were well-known for this.
Papa had regaled us many time in my childhood with stories of how
they were taken to 5 star hotels, and 5-star treatment was meted
out to all passengers.

At 01:30 pm, we had all checked out, and we saw a familiar face
entering a vehicle. It was Captain Wadhwa, and the first officer,
being taken in a car to the airport. What about the cabin crew, I
wondered. By this time, an Air India official was already there
at the hotel, and was pleasantly explaining his interpretation of
the situation, to us passengers.

I did not catch much of the talk, since there was quite a crowd
around him. We asked the gentleman whether he had had lunch. He
replied with a smile that he would go for lunch after we left Raipur.
From what I could make out, there had perhaps been a hydraulic
leak in the main landing gear. This official praised Captain
Wadhwa for a skillful landing, and said some engineers
could have released the plane there, for it to be repaired
fully at Delhi, without any worries. However, this team was adamant
that it be repaired here itself, a plan with which Captain Wadhwa
fully concurred. He was full of praise for both the Engineering
team, as well as the skillful Captain Wadhwa. The BOM-RPR-VTZ-BOM
flight had brought in the spares from the Mumbai Engineering base
(the earlier possibility was to have the Bhubaneshwar flight be
used, or diverted for this purpose).

From Hotel GT Star, we went next to Hotel Golden Tulip, to pick
up a few more passengers. This chartered bus was the usual
city-to-Mana airport bus, which Air India had chartered for two
bus loads of passengers. All others had been accommodated in
Hotel Golden Tulip, we would find out. By the time we reached the
airport, the cabin crew had boarded the aircraft, and had kept it
ready for the flight back. The plane had been cleaned, and the
air-conditioning switched on quite some time back, to cool the
interiors, after the aircraft had sat out in the warm sun.
It struck me that the cockpit and the cabin crew may have
gone beyond the FDTL norms for time spent on duty, possibly not
to inconvenience passengers, and get the plane back to Delhi as
soon as possible, so that the onward routes could be flown.
My appreciation for the entire Air India team went up higher.

Even as we passengers were waiting for the Captain's announcement
to the cabin crew to secure all doors, Mr. Sanjeev Suri boarded the
aircraft with a worried expression on his face. Where was the
elderly Sikh gentleman who was to go to Delhi, and transfer to a
flight to Amritsar? He looked around, had the cabin crew announce
the name of the person, if anyone had seen his whereabouts, till
he got a call on his mobile, that the gentleman had been located,
and had decided to take the trip the next day. Mr. Suri breathed
a sigh of relief. As he walked past us, I thanked him on behalf
of all passengers, for taking personal interest in mitigating the
inconvenience caused to us passengers. People around me joined
in, and the visibly tired gentleman softy said that that was his job.
In this day and age, the personal care that the entire Air
India team had taken of all passengers,
had been nothing short of exemplary.


I was glad that I had chosen Air India when there were other
choices as well, a decision with which my host at Nagpur fully
concurred. I had for reference, a four page printout of my
Nanded-Mumbai SpiceJet ticket with me at that time. The Air India
handling of the situation was in sharp contrast to the SpiceJet
terms and conditions, in fine print on the ticket. If something
went wrong with the plane, the passengers would be left high and dry,
for instance. And what about those irritating passengers who had
created a scene in the terminal building? They were all quiet.
``They should have been asked to fly on the plane before the repair,''
suggested a friend.
``They should have been asked to fly the plane,'' I retorted.

The Jumping Jack Jet (JaCK, VT-JCK) plane was beside us.



Captain Wadhwa made another lovely landing on the new runway 11
at Delhi. As Captain Wadhwa took us towards the terminal, I
noticed CM, the `Chief Executive of the State' plane VT-SCM was
taxi'ing away towards a gate at the domestic end.



Just then, I noticed one of my favourite plane types in the new
Air India flying swan livery, the A332. It was WA, the `wide-body
Aircraft', VT-IWA. This would be my ride on my next trip!



We docked at an International gate, and were bused back
to the terminal. Many of us wanted to thank Captain Wadhwa for
his part in handling the situation, but he was whisked away in a
separate crew vehicle.
As I de-planed, I thanked the tired cabin crew for their part in
making passengers feel as comfortable as possible, and that I was
glad I had chosen to fly Air India, as usual.
---
Links to my 54 trip reports:
https://sites.google.com/site/sumantratrip/
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ameya
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Location: Pune,Maharashtra

PostPosted: Sat Oct 26, 2013 1:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great TR Sir !

While I had been to BLR last time on 6E, I had reported that one of their a/c had a cracked windshield and was in PNQ. The pax were made to wait in the terminal with one snacks coupon and nothing else.

I agree with you about the AI experience. However, I am not sure if they would be doing this all airports across the country or was this a one off scenario.

Glad you had a good flight and look forward for more.

Did you get food on the RPR-DEL leg inside the flight ?
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 26, 2013 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the kind words, Ameya Sir.
ameya wrote:
While I had been to BLR last time on 6E, I had reported that one of their a/c had a cracked windshield and was in PNQ. The pax were made to wait in the terminal with one snacks coupon and nothing else.
Yes Sir, most LCCs have the `no responsibility' clause in their fine print `Terms and Conditions'. The snack coupon was a pleasant surprise, though.

ameya wrote:
I agree with you about the AI experience. However, I am not sure if they would be doing this all airports across the country or was this a one off scenario.
Me too. While this was rather standard with both Indian Airlines (lots of stories from Papa) and Air India in the past (PMAI once in 2007, when our B744 `Ajanta' went tech at FRA, and the entire load of pax were offered refreshments for a 45 minute delay). What was surprising was this wonderful treatment in these troubled times, where all airlines are bleeding badly, and the entire industry is doing badly. This could have been a complete one-off, indeed.
Mr. Sanjeev Suri could have well washed his hands off the affair, and Raipur being a small station, not too many people would have heard of this incident, and it would not have even made a splash anywhere. However, he and Team AI put in something that all passengers - even those shrill banshees, would never forget. flight and look forward for more.

I travel on AI quite a bit, and the more I see of some people in the organisation, the more I am convinced that the airline has some really excellent people in it, who will always put in a good day's job, everyday.

ameya wrote:
Did you get food on the RPR-DEL leg inside the flight ?
No Sir - Even at breakfast, I ate like there was no tomorrow. All was forgotten during the buffet lunch, and I did an encore. Anything else would have meant a thorough cleaning of the plane after I had disembarked Razz
Cheers, Sumantra.
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jbalonso777
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2013 6:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sir, it was such a pleasure to read this wonderful experience you had just after I read the AF incident. Its surprising how world renowned airlines do bad, while the bleeding and thrashed airlines do well. It is such a world of contrasts. It was really wonderful to see Mr. Suri execute such a fine job. Or as the internet memes would say - 'Faith in humanity restored.'
I honestly wouldn't have managed to keep cool, as Mr. Suri did. But then again, that would look bad on me. The world needs more people like him. They are who completely change the image of an airline (and maybe pull it down..)

Things like this, as you mentioned, are quite rare. Not many people would appreciate this amount of effort, which is another issue. For me, I haven't experienced this as of yet, however, I do remember Dad telling me 'I will never fly Indian Airlines ever again', back in 2002, (did a bit of a brainstorm to get that one!) when his A300 had a flat noose wheel tyre, and they were stranded at BLR for a night. And yet, he flew with them quite regularly Smile
Again, that is another example of the contrasting world we live in.
Sir, we do look forward to more of your TRs! The lack of food description did not matter in both the TRs yet,as your own other-descriptions were simply superb!

Regards
Jish
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2013 10:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the kind words, Sir. I look forward to you reading every report, and sending your detailed comments!
jbalonso777 wrote:
Things like this, as you mentioned, are quite rare.
Yes, it is rather ironic that I managed to complete and post this one, and a few days later, comes this AF experience. I have only been in a (domestic) problematic situation - the day of the ICPA strike, Jan'12. AI handled the situation much better than I expected them to, from what I had heard of their average clueless-ness in IRROPs.
31. AI strike(,) PAT in the back: Patna, Jan'12
http://www.airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic12781.html
Thanks, Sumantra.
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Nimish
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2013 10:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Absolutely brilliant service from AI at Raipur - full marks to the team on the ground there. Great report Sumantra - I hope we have such ground service at all AI stations!
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sumantra
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Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Posts: 4485
Location: New Delhi

PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 12:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the kind words, Nimish, and it is really very nice to see you taking time out to read reports when you have a long journey ahead of you!
Nimish wrote:
I hope we have such ground service at all AI stations!
Me too Smile
Cheers, Sumantra.
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Theairplaneguy4ever
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 08, 2013 6:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Being quite busy the last week has caused me to miss some of the wonderful TRs here. It's a shame that I managed to miss yours as well.

First off, wow! What a nice TR! So many pictures, very nicely done!

And considering this is only half of what the actual TR is, it is brilliant!

Quote:
The ride for the day was the `Secure Copy' plane SCP: VT-SCP,
with Captain Gaurav Kukreja in command.


Was IFE turned on for this domestic sector? Having flown AI509, COK-BLR-MAA last year on an A319, I was dismayed that it had not been turned on. Considering that this sector is longer, hopefully you had IFE switched on.

Quote:
A lot more would board at the city, but there was
some drama in store for me. The plane had been more than 80% full,
but my tummy was 100% empty.


Doesn't sound good Smile . For a 40 min flight, I think no food is reasonable, considering the FAs would never have time to complete their service.

Quote:
By now, most people were appreciating the efforts of
the cheerful station manager Mr. Suri.


This guy is a hero! He certainly went out of his way to ensure things went right. In my opinion, those rude passengers deserved to be stuck in Raipur, they should have at least been polite to the only person who could help them.

Thanks again for sharing this wonderful TR of yours. I really enjoyed reading this TR, as was for your others.

Keep up the good work sir!

Adi,

Theairplaneguy4ever
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PAL@YWG
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 9:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow Sumantra, I can't believe that you have already treated us with 54 TRs! It requires a lot of energy and passion to do that with so much of details!
Any job with a typical Indian employer demands more that 8 hours of slogging ( I worked with one hence I know Very Happy ), then add traveling time from/to residence, then add those little chores we all do to keep TW happy! How much time left after that? How do you do all these writings, Sumantra? Surprised Surprised

Coming back to TR: AI did an excellent job in handling the situation at Raipur. And Raipur airport looks impressive!
I have learnt a lot more about today's India thru your TRs than from any other source!

Keep it up!
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2013 12:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Theairplaneguy4ever wrote:
Being quite busy the last week has caused me to miss some of the wonderful TRs here. It's a shame that I managed to miss yours as well.
Thanks a lot, Adithya: can I echo the same sentiments about my week, and my missing your TR as well? I was out of station, and a 5-part TR is `in the works'. I'll clear my backlog by one tonight, itself.
theairplaneguy4ever wrote:
Was IFE turned on for this domestic sector? Having flown AI509, COK-BLR-MAA last year on an A319, I was dismayed that it had not been turned on. Considering that this sector is longer, hopefully you had IFE switched on.
Sir, this looks like a recent phenomenon, or perhaps just an `off' day, literally. I did the following on 24-25 Oct'13:
AI 634: Air India (A319): DEL-BHO [02:00 pm - 03:20 pm]
AI 633: Air India (A321): BHO-DEL [05:50 pm - 07:05 pm]
On the onward journey, note the block time (the flying time was a mere 0:55, as announced). We had no IFE, or food, for that matter. Tea/Coffee, and Marie biscuits. The Prof. Dholakia recommendations are coming into effect even for flights less than 01:30 - that too, at meal times. What is the world coming to?

theairplaneguy4ever wrote:
Doesn't sound good Smile . For a 40 min flight, I think no food is reasonable, considering the FAs would never have time to complete their service.
Sir, Indian Airlines used to serve very filling snacks on even such short flights! You should have seen the crew doing this service, on an A320. I have seen this on the MAA-IXM segment, for instance.
Cheers, Sumantra.
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2013 12:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

PAL@YWG wrote:
Any job with a typical Indian employer demands more that 8 hours of slogging
Sir, it is the joy of getting kind feedback from wonderful TR writers as you! Second, I work for a semi-Government organisation. That explains my good-for-nothing loafing around Razz

PAL@YWG wrote:
I have learnt a lot more about today's India thru your TRs than from any other source!
India, or Air India? Razz Sir, I really appreciate your kindness. I have tried to emulate you in describing more of the sights and smells(but of course) around, as you say that it makes a report more wholesome. Are we not looking forward to the Pal family trip with its typical exotic routing? I am just back from San Diego, via Chicago: a 5-part TR is in `the works'. The DEL-ORD and ORD-DEL segments were on...no surprises, AI. One of AI's two flights that are good grossers. AI's service was excellent, and the food, more than terrific!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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