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An even older A320 - Dilli by Kifayati Shreni

 
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ameya
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Joined: 09 May 2007
Posts: 3671
Location: Pune,Maharashtra

PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2013 11:08 pm    Post subject: An even older A320 - Dilli by Kifayati Shreni Reply with quote

A)Background


It was sometime in mid November that I figured out that there may not be any more trips this year, barring a JAI-IDR-PNQ on 9W on the last day of this year. That would take my flight count to 23, exactly equal to the flights I took last year. Yes they are much lesser than what most of the group members take, but then every flight is fun and its nice to break your own record.

Suddenly, in last week of November, came an opportunity to visit Delhi for a combination of meetings / conference / exhibition .. a MICE trip as they call it in travel & tourism. This trip would give me a slim chance to equal my all time high of 28 flights a year in 2011

These statistics come from flightdiary and after a horrific HDD crash in 2010 when I lost of my flight records, I have managed to get most of the data back and onto flightdiary now

B) Flight Planning


Trip involved travelling on 3rd morning and returning on 5th or 6th evening. Plan was made to go early on 3rd and return late on 5th.

The options for morning departures were as below
SG 208 @ 0720
9W 366 @ 0615 or 0730 (Adhoc changes happening every week these days, departure from MAA at 0400hrs many a times)
AI 852 @ 0735

Knowing the current state of SG and its aircraft condition, I decided to opt out of that option and because of the time discrepancies of 9W, I zeroed in on AI for my trip to DEL

However, closer to departure something else came up and I had to go a day earlier for which AI charged 4500+.

My choice turned out to be good – Read on for more !

C) Rotation & Flight history

While AI 849/850 has been around for as long as one can remember, AI 851/852 was a new introduction last winter. This thus was the first flight from DEL at 0500hrs and contrary to what many thought, this turned out to be a good flight for AI.

With DEL as the hub, AI swaps a lot of flights and aircraft as per need and thus it becomes a difficult task for somebody like me to get the rotations. Also, AI has longer turn around times than others which also makes the task difficult to comprehend the rotation.

Thanks to FR24, some guesses can be made. The older A320s in AI’s fleet are not detected by FR24 most of the times and the morning flight being one of those aircraft, I had to really study the rotations in detail to conclude that most of the times, the rotation is as below

851/852/821/821/822/822/636/636 : DEL PNQ DEL IXJ SXR IXJ DEL IDR BOM
Sometimes the 636 leg gets replaced by 473/474 DEL BBI DEL

D) PNQ airport & Spotting opportunities


A lot has already been written by me about PNQ airport before and hence I would not write about that but from a spotting perspective I would get to see 6E 409 to BLR, SG 208 to DEL, 9W 366 to DEL and my own flight

I could see VT-IFI operate 6E 409 to BLR and it lined up as we took off, saw SG 208 which had not departed till we left at 0740, already they were 20 min behind schedule. It was VT-SPS which had arrived before time from MAA. Later I saw on the website that it left at 0830. 9W 366 had yet again changed the timings and it flew out at 0615hrs
SG 227 STD 0645 to BLR also went at 0730 just ahead of our flight.


E) DEL airport & Spotting opportunities


I would visit the T3 again and its always a nice feeling. The chances of seeing an exotic bird and exotic airline – Mahan Air A306 operating W5 075 from Tehran would land at 1000hrs
The DGCA lists Mahan air as one of the lowest OTP airline in most of its reports !

Unfortunately I could only spot, a SQ B777 taxi out and VT- ANH / VT-ALG / VT- ABD

F) Seat Blocking


As I got the ticket, I promptly logged into the manage booking section and blocked my seats – 3A on both the legs, which will enable me to keep the window open !
A small note here, AI does not allow this for AI 517 to GOI from PNQ
Also, 9W does not come anywhere closer to having this kind of services. Many a times even web check in is difficult, leave aside seat blocking

G) Aircraft Details


The ticket mentioned that the aircraft would be A320-100/200 and BREAKFAST will be served
It was an all economy bird and I expected an older aircraft. When it eventually came, I couldn’t believe how old it was.

H) The day of departure


My experiences with cabs in Pune have been horrible but this time office had booked Travel Time and it turned out to be good. I set out from my house at 0530 hours and covered the distance of 17 kms in 20 mins or so

I) Ground Experience at PNQ


The departure gate had been changed again or I am flying after a long time or both ! Now it’s the central gate which is used for departing passengers and then you either go straight for SG / G8 or walk left wards for 9W/AI/6E. There was a huge group which had just got in, flying SG and were occupying that entire area creating some ruckus. All without even a simple sense of making way for others.
The FIDS outside is still the old standard one with AI 851 mentioned as arriving from BOM and 9Ws incoming from MAA not reflecting the revised time for the day.

As I queued up for X-ray, the security staff of AI told me that it would start at 0600 only and it was 0555. 6E flights were leaving in quick succession – one to NAG/DEL and other to MAA/CCU – exactly on time.

Finally the X-ray started and I was done swiftly and proceeded towards the check-in counter which was empty. Eventually after 5 mins, staff appeared and my check-in was done in a breeze.
It was only then that they realized that my bag has not been strapped and on checking with the security they figured out that the machine wasn’t working properly.

Few bags of pax who were checked in but not strapped went back to the x-ray machine. I continued to think if they would make it on the flight or not and went in the security line where the CISF wanted to start the process only at 0630hrs. Thankfully looking at the line, they budged at 0615hrs.

I casually asked the AI staff about the load and he said it is 160 and he does not know which aircraft would come

I proceeded to the first floor from where all the boarding happens and found a place overlooking bay no. 4 . The time was around 0630.

J) Weather & NOTAM

PNQ Weather wasn’t available in the METARS section but a look outside was clear – it was drizzling ! DEL METAR was
VIDP 020030Z 00000KT 2500 FU NSC 14/08 Q1016 NOSIG =

Nothing significant from a NOTAM perspective

K) Boarding


I had some coffee at the terminal and awaited boarding call. The incoming aircraft had reached by 0655 and I had caught a hazy registration : VT-EPH.

Eventually boarding was called at 0715 hours and I wondered how would they make an ontime departure considering that the aircraft was at bay 1 (aerobridge) and a long walk awaited all passengers.

Boarding was smooth but was done only at 0735hrs

L) Aircraft


Regular reader would recollect my TR (The Borat way to Russia: How old can an A320 be? ) where in I travelled on MSN 104 D-AIPM from MUC to DME. However, I soon realized that VT-EPH is from an earlier era and quick googling confirmed that. MSN 051. OMG over 5000 have been built after this one. VT-EPH still has the IAE engines but is now in single class config (168Y) and was delivered to Air India (Then Indian Airlines) in mid 1989 making it a 24.5yrs old plane.

While I wasn’t happy with the way LH had maintained their plane, I had no complain about this one. It was neat, tidy, functional seats and the regular Air India legroom way better than the ones on 6E or G8

M) Push Back – T/O – Food – Landing - Crew


We pushed back at 0740 and quickly made our way past the 6E flight awaiting departure and taxied till the end of runway 28 lined up and the famous engine sound made it a roaring take off westwards, going towards Mumbai and then aligning to the route to Delhi going from near Vadodara – Kota – Jaipur and then landing on runway 11 in DEL

Capt. Chitaranjan Tyagi was in command and he did a superb work in the cocking – handling this double bogey

Food service started at 0805 hrs which was very quick. I opted for the Non Veg option which had Omlette + Baked beans & wedges along with Bun / Butter / Fruits. The plastic cutlery was pathetic . Veg option had Medu Wada Sambar and also the bun, I wonder why

An elderly aunty along with a smart young lady were going around with the service and the aunty should have atleast tied her hair properly if not smiled, and gone around doing the service quickly

N) Arrival Experience


We docked at gate C31 and that meant a long walk to the arrivals. The baggage had come in by then and when I came out, neither Meru nor Mega cabs had cabs available. That led me to take the standard Black non a/c cab which turned out to be a good decision since Delhi was gridlocked today and it took me over 1.5 hours to cover a distance that generally takes 35mins

O) Over all experience

I am happy with the flight. The booking was from travel agent. I could select my seat much in advance unlike any of the other carriers, Check-in at airport was a little problematic considering the strapping issue, Ground staff and boarding process was decent. Aircraft was clean and seats comfortable.
However, the crew has to be smiling and not come like they have been made to wake up in the middle of the night. The pilot also did not do any announcements.

I was happy with the flight. I[/b]
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ameya
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Joined: 09 May 2007
Posts: 3671
Location: Pune,Maharashtra

PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2013 11:10 pm    Post subject: Images Reply with quote

The stylist A320 logo

20131202_073606 by ameyajoshi, on Flickr

The big grande tray ! which is soo missed these days

20131202_080811 by ameyajoshi, on Flickr

The food !

20131202_081643 by ameyajoshi, on Flickr

The Ride !

20131202_092045 by ameyajoshi, on Flickr

The arrival !

20131202_095100 by ameyajoshi, on Flickr

The Rick guy ! err...


20131202_160943 by ameyajoshi, on Flickr
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ameya
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Joined: 09 May 2007
Posts: 3671
Location: Pune,Maharashtra

PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2013 11:10 pm    Post subject: Images Reply with quote

The stylist A320 logo

20131202_073606 by ameyajoshi, on Flickr

The big grande tray ! which is soo missed these days

20131202_080811 by ameyajoshi, on Flickr

The food !

20131202_081643 by ameyajoshi, on Flickr

The Ride !

20131202_092045 by ameyajoshi, on Flickr

The arrival !

20131202_095100 by ameyajoshi, on Flickr

The Rick guy ! err...


20131202_160943 by ameyajoshi, on Flickr
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sukritmunjal
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2013 11:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice TR Ameya. I recently flew VT-ESF (21.5 years) and it wasn't that well maintained. I shall try and post a TR this weekend.

Cheers
Sukrit
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me111993
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Posts: 3225
Location: MAA/AMD

PostPosted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 1:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This was awesome ! Nice and crisp!

One question, how do legroom / pitch feel on these 168 seater 320s vs 6E 320s or 9W/SGs recent 738s? we all know the stats but personal feel is impt Wink
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jbalonso777
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Posts: 1501
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 6:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a brilliant way to start the day! Thank you for this TR, and of course, with your updates on WhatsApp!

I flew VT-EPI last year, and that was 23.1 years old. Surely it has gotten only older by now! The food presentation didn't look too appealing to me. The beans looked like it was scattered all over. And that A320 signage is classy! I think the Alliance Air B732s had that too. I guess the tuk tuk drivers are going to every extreme to defend themselves from the cold I guess - hence the very random jacket which you saw!
And I do agree about your comment on legroom. After flying VT-EPI, I had felt a big difference onboard VT-IGY when I flew it a few days later.

Looking forward to more!
Regards
Jish
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shivendrashukla
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice TR. I too am looking for an opportunity to fly the double bogies before AI finally decides to retire them. I already have flown double bogies before, but then I was too young to comprehend what a double bogie means.

Perhaps next time insted of BOM, I would head to PNQ to take a flight.

Cheers
Shivendra
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Nimish
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 4:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice TR - thanks for posting.

Good to hear that AI is able to use and maintain these aging beauties - I'm referring to the a/c of course Wink.

Quote:
neither Meru nor Mega cabs had cabs available. That led me to take the standard Black non a/c cab which turned out to be a good decision since Delhi was gridlocked today and it took me over 1.5 hours to cover a distance that generally takes 35mins


Sorry - I got confused here, with the traffic/ gridlock won't an a/c Meru have been a better experience?
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ameya
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Location: Pune,Maharashtra

PostPosted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 11:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nimish wrote:
Nice TR - thanks for posting.

Good to hear that AI is able to use and maintain these aging beauties - I'm referring to the a/c of course Wink.

Quote:
neither Meru nor Mega cabs had cabs available. That led me to take the standard Black non a/c cab which turned out to be a good decision since Delhi was gridlocked today and it took me over 1.5 hours to cover a distance that generally takes 35mins


Sorry - I got confused here, with the traffic/ gridlock won't an a/c Meru have been a better experience?


The weather was nice so AC wasnt required. Meru would have costed a lot in so much traffic and detour. Pre paid costed same for all the detours / and waiting !
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ameya
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Location: Pune,Maharashtra

PostPosted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 11:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

me111993 wrote:
This was awesome ! Nice and crisp!

One question, how do legroom / pitch feel on these 168 seater 320s vs 6E 320s or 9W/SGs recent 738s? we all know the stats but personal feel is impt Wink


AI A320 is way better than 6E. Only the trust in them is still not enough. For Eg. I was tracking this flight for the past week and it had average delay of 00:13, lucky I made it on time. For first flight of the day, if you are building in a 15 min delay the entire day is bound to be disturbed more so if the plane is touching DEL so many times, where losing your slot will get you back in the queue
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 2013 1:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

...and why was I reading the title as `kifAyatI shernI' instead of `shreNi'?
I had to read through this lovely report, to check on my stupidity.
I guess our paths didn't cross, this time. From what I just read, you had better pursuits!
Your schedule didn't quite match mine, and the day we both were in Delhi in the evening, I came back so late that forget you, even The Wife would not have let me in.
I loved the flight history section, and going by personal experience, I have found the morning rotations to be very well patronised by the hoi-polloi in Pune. No, not just Government officers going back and forth: there were lots of families as well, all speaking in a language I sorely miss hearing in Delhi: Marathi. You have done a great job with the rotations, since yes, not just is it an issue with older planes not being FR24-compatible, the lull before the busy afternoon bank of flights makes calculations very difficult. Remember my Aurangabad trip? Very nice set of pictures, too: I liked the last one, the best of all!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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ameya
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 09, 2013 11:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the kind words. I am happy about how AI is rotations their planes

AI 849 their flagship on the route was recently downgraded to A319, when the load was only 104. Right decision, A321 would have been a big burn that day !
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Theairplaneguy4ever
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2013 1:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another Epic TR sir! Great to read this one as well.

Glad you got the chance to ride on an old A320.

Quote:
The food !


Looks good! How was it?

Quote:
The Rick guy ! err...


Haha! Nice catch. It's awfully cold in Delhi about now!

Cheers!

Adi,

Theairplaneguy4ever
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