Monday, May 19, 2014

The circuitous trip to City state of Singapore - Part 1

After a lull of few months, there finally was a chance to travel, having started the year with 4 flights in the first month, there have been none since then. May be as a consolidation for this, the destination this time is Singapore! The news coincided with the news from SIA that it would deploy the Airbus A380 on routes to Mumbai and Delhi, but effective 30th May.

The multi part blog will cover the trip planning, the in-flight and transfer experience, some interesting things in Singapore and the return journey. 

I would have two trips lined up to Singapore – one which was supposed to be in the first week of May, which got pushed to third week of May and then one more in June. For the May trip, the A380 experience is ruled out and hence I started the search to find the best bet to Singapore.

Factors in Mind

Quite a few things which I have not yet seen and the top most of that being RGIA – Hyderabad, which has opened long back yet I have not had a chance to visit HYD since then. The others include T2 at BOM, and new terminals at CCU & MAA. On the equipment side, the B767, B787, A300/310 remain high on the list.

Overall the options looked as below,
1.       Take SQ / 9W out of BOM & experience the T2. SQ on B772 or B773 and 9W on B737s
a.       SQ has two back to back departures at 22:10 and 00:05 reaching SIN early in the morning and a day departure at 08:25, adjusted till the main runway at BOM is closed for repairs, since SQ does not use the secondary runway at BOM, citing ICAO guidelines related to proximity of the old ATC tower
b.      9W which operated widebody to SIN, has since shifted to doubly daily B737 flights, in which the IFE is not operating most of the times

2.       Take some flight to HYD and take Tiger Air from there (Either with the SG code share or otherwise) or take Silk Air. This option gives me new airport and new carrier, a big advantage for this option
a.       Could have tried the SG connection. But this option has very long lay overs

3.       Take a flight to Chennai and try 6E or SQ or AI (A330) onwards. Almost ruled out since I am not too keen to see the falling structure of Chennai Airport
a.       Long layover, less interest in Chennai

4.       Take a circuitous route via Delhi to experience the B787 of Air India on DEL-SIN, provided there are no equipment swaps happenings at the last minute.
      DreamLiner here I come

I asked the office travel desk to send me options and this is what I got

Not to mention that these screens had been seen by me ample times before I asked the travel desk to send me options.

I sent them this !

It was easier to convince them for the circuitous routing owing to the lesser cost and there came my ticket instantly.

17th May 2014 (Sat)
AI 850 PNQ DEL, Depart PNQ at 1840, Arrive DEL at 2040
Connect to AI 380 Departing DEL at 00:05 and Arrive in SIN at 07:55hrs

24th May 2014 (Sat)
AI 381 Depart SIN at 09:15 and Arrive in DEL at 12:15 hrs
Connect to AI 849 DEL PNQ, Depart DEL at 1600 and arrive PNQ at 1800

Tickets in hand, I immediately logged on to block my seats. For Pune being a military airport, AI does not allow web check-in at Pune, where as all other airlines which operate from Pune, allow that. None the less, AI does allow blocking of seat in advance at no extra charges, thus making it the only carrier in the country to offer this facility. A big Thumbs up for Air India for this. 

This was going to be my first ride on the B787 Dreamliner, and hence some research was done. Emails sent to those who have travelled on the Dreamliner, websites like being surfed, internal images of the aircraft and all that was possible.

The seat blocking is done as below

Delhi HUB of Air India

Air India is probably the only airline in India, which has a functional HUB. With Etihad taking over Jet, its semi functional Mumbai hub is shifting westwards to Abu Dhabi. Air India, also shifted few years ago to Delhi from Mumbai – where it continues to have its maintenance facilities including heavy maintenance.

With flights to EWR / ORD / LHR / FRA / CDG and DME / FCO / MXP in the pipeline, there is a decent bank to the west and HKG / KIX / NRT / ICN / SYD / MEL / SIN to the East / S-E & Australasia region.

As for the Singapore flight, it connects both ways to the below stations within 5 hours both ways, which is a considerable time. A lot of stations in the south connect to SIN via MAA.

After deciding to take a path covering 3295 Mi via DEL, as compared to 2435 Mi on a direct Mumbai - Singapore flight, it was time to track & predict which aircraft I would get for my flight and if it would be on time or not. 

For a week, I tracked the two flights, AI 850 and AI 380

The DreamLiner flight, was fairly on time with a departure delay of 00:21 on an average for a week, and most of the time rotated to SIN after arrival from HKG. 

Different aircraft on different days, lets see which one I get !

On the other hand, the AI 849 rotation was mostly constant and had an average departure delay of less than 10 minutes

I will conclude the Part-1 of this Trip Report here and hope to publish the next part soon. How did the trip go, How was the Dreamliner, and the transit experience at Delhi. . . coming soon !

The next part has been updated can be found at Part 2 - Crappy Ground service at Pune by Air India

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