Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Jet Set No!! - From Bad to worst on Jet Airways to Amritsar

As we exited the arrivals on return from Leh  DEL-IXL-DEL, we quickly went to the AVA counter to purchase a laptop bag at Rs.999/- and headed back to Departure level via Domestic transfers. Great work by GMR-DIAL here on having these transfers built in during the design phase. We had to show the ID and ticket to the security on ground floor and again at the first floor!

Seats were already blocked by family, a day in advance, and we got our boarding passes at the empty Jet Airways counters in row C. The security again was a breeze with a lot of channels open and the CISF staff guiding people to avoid bottle necks for any of the channels. Buying a few magazines and catching up on news later, we settled at the food court and ordered from Vangoo – which was part of the Buy Delhi Bye festival which is going on.

Trip Planning & Booking

We had this trip fitted in to visit Amritsar and enjoy the food there in addition to doing the tourist circuit. The choice of Jet on this comparatively crowded market offering a choice of B788 to ATR & Q400 was because of point’s redemption and nothing else.

Booking was a breeze on the website of the airline and redemption seats were available.


Since the flight was booked in advance, I was apprehensive  every now and then if Jet Airways would withdraw the flight without much notice. Network changes on the domestic front are now a regular phenomenon.

I tracked the flight for last few days and it looked like the aircraft mostly does Mumbai – Delhi – Amritsar – Delhi – Amritsar – Delhi – Mumbai, a mix of Full Service and BoB-LCC flights with the same aircraft.

This rotation of 9W 370/370/2662/2791/373/373 was maintained on both the days. The aircraft is shifted from International ops to domestic at Mumbai on most of the days.Based on this I tracked the flights, and realized that it would be VT-JFN for us at Gate 37B.

 Flight Experience

VT-JFN arrived at 1155hours operating as 9W 2662 from Amritsar and parked at Gate 37B. We observed that from the area opposite Starbucks and left for the gate, which is a short walk.
METAR: VIDP 200800Z 290009KT 4000 HZ SCT030 BKN090 33/23 Q0999 NOSIG=

Delhi was hot at 33 degrees with a lot of Haze, as was depicted in the METAR of 1230hours
The loads looked light and they indeed were, with just 49 pax on board this new B737-800(WL) with MSN 39062 and sky interiors. Finally Boeing realized that white light is more pleasing to the eyes than yellow lights.

Capt. Vinit along with F/O Karan were in command this flight which was code shared with Alitalia and Etihad and the we were informed that it would take 45 mins to reach Amritsar. Doors closed at 1233 and pushback commenced at 1240 as we taxied to end of runway 29 and made a powerful take off at 1250. The aircraft had a proper partition unlike VT-JGY. BoB service commenced shortly, and we did not buy anything again. 

I observed that Jet Airways is serving water from any supplier and not a standard one. It was Bailley on Delhi – Leh, Go Green on Leh – Delhi and some company named Icy Splash providing water on Delhi – Amritsar! The lack of standardization is a case study!

I spent some time reading Jetwings – which claims that JetAirways flies to Paris Daily from Mumbai, while it flies only 4x weekly.

At 1315 the pilot came on PA informing that Amritsar is reporting clear weather with 32 degree temperature and we expect to arrive by 1345, which we did after a decent landing with a lot of braking on runway 34 of Amritsar.
The route and flight level summary for 9W 2791

Flight Summary

9W 2791 / B737-800(WL) VT-JFH Sky Interior
STD: 1240        ATD: 1240       STA: 1350        ATA: 1345
On-Time: 5/5
Website: 5/5
Check-in & Airport Experience: 5/5
Aircraft cleanliness: 4/5
In-flight experience: 3/5
Food: NIL
Alighting & arrival experience: 4/5

 Amritsar Airport
·     Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport Amritsar is the only international airport in Punjab and as one taxi driver had told me in my last visit, Amritsar is the only city to have International Rail, Airport and Road!
·         The airport is named after the fourth Sikh Guru and founder of Amritsar Guru Ram Das.
·         Runway 16/34 12001Ft long Asphalt runway
·         Existing operators
o   Air India – Delhi & Birmingham via Delhi on 4days
o   Air India Express – Dubai
o   Jet Airways – Delhi and onwards to Mumbai / Chennai
o   Qatar – Doha
o   SpiceJet – Mumbai, Delhi, Srinagar
o   Turkmenistan – Ashgabat
o   Uzbekistan – Tashkent
·         Terminal Capacity – 600 each for arrival & departure
·         Traffic
o   April’14: 32390 International pax, 74265 Domestic Pax
o   Jul’13: 24956 International pax, 45768 Domestic Pax

We made our way to the city center where we were put up in Hotel Ramada – not the best of places from service perspective but centrally located. The next 2.5 days were spent in sitting in hotel due to a bandh called by Shiv Sena, visiting the tourist places, including the ceremony at Attari – which has grown in impossible proportions. I have managed to get some unusual photos since I stayed away from the crowds till my better half saw the ceremony from the ladies only stand.

One of the reasons of choosing Amritsar was  food  and we thoroughly enjoyed eating a lot of Amritsar Dal, Prantha and Lassi at Kesar Da Dhaba and Giani Lassiwala, with the other popular option – Brothers Dhaba and Bharawan da Dhaba are overrated.


  Food at Amritsar

The return leg was planned on 23rd July with a tight connection to Pune with a terminal transfer. As I woke up in the morning, I noticed that the rotation was running behind schedule and VT-JBG would operate the flight. Delivered in 2008, this aircraft is 6.5yrs old with MSN 35083.

Check-in & Airport Experience
We reached airport at 1235hours & re-checked the flight status, Jet was doing good job at getting the rotation back on time. Post baggage screening, we checked-in at 1245hours. I requested for Priority tagging of baggage, which was promptly done.
The terminal at Amritsar is small, with the check-in counters still having the old style manual FIDS and not Television. Security area looks makeshift and the security allowed taking water along.We settled in a small seating area, and observed the three C-130Js of IAF parked at IAF dispersal across the runway.

FIDS showed that Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan airways will land shortly and I had my eyes set at Flight radar and the runway. Uzbek landed after a lot of circling over Amritsar at 1310 and was being operated by A320, it was followed by Turkmenistan B757 from Ashgabad and VT-ANO operating AI 114 from DEL. 

9W2791 departed Delhi at 1300hours, but again I got no SMS for the alert I had set up. Incoming aircraft arrived at 1355 and was parked at remote . Soon boarding was announced from gate 2 which is on ground floor.

At 1421 ground personnel were asked to deplane and doors closed at 1424. We commenced pushback at 1428 and saw the Uzbek bird parked at extreme right of the dispersal. We taxied till end of runway 16 and took off at 1439 hours. The Captain came on PA informing that we expected touch down at 1540.

VT-JBG was horrible. An aircraft with 12J configuration had Jet international inflight magazine. The IFE was ON and said “Thank you for flying Jet Airways” all the time. The AC vent was as dirty as the seats, windows were dirty.

This was FSC – long time on Jet FSC, but without expectations. Food service started immediately after take off and having seated in row 10 meant we were the first to be served, with an option of Veg or Non veg puff, to go along with Frooti, marble cake and water. The puff was not tasty and dry, but the marble cake was good. 

The crew was horrible – patted on my back with trademark Indian way of “psss” used to calling strangers and told me to have the seat upright. Not at all polite, What more, the seat would not come up! Within no time, the crew was back to have the trays with most of the passengers still having their share of food, including my wife. Even after seeing that people are eating, the crew asked for trays!

 The dirty seats, tray which got stuck, international magazine and the non operative IFE

As I tried putting back the seat tray back into the arm rest – it refused to go in, and was the case for the middle seat on the left as well. Capt.Rahul Gupta announced that we would commence descent at 1500 hours, which was rather quick and that Delhi has 4500MTR visib with 32 degrees temperature and apologizing for the delay. The crew again was very rude as they came to prepare the cabin for landing. I took time to read the in-flight magazine, which had some surprising things!

Jetairways route map showing cconnections to Toronto and Newark via London! Either this change came out in magazine too early or nobody in the company is bothered about what is happening in the airline.

We landed and braked hard yet again before coming to gate 37 in a flight I would call forgettable.

Flight Summary

9W373 / B737-800(WL) VT-JBG
STD: 1420        ATD: 1435       STA: 1525        ATA: 1532
On-Time: 4/5
Website: 5/5
Check-in & Airport Experience: 3/5 (Good on the staff front, but horrible bus)
Aircraft cleanliness: 2/5(Broken trays, Dirty seats, and leather)
In-flight experience: 1/5 (Manner less crew)
Food: 2/5
Alighting & arrival experience: 4/5

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