Saturday, July 26, 2014

Reviewing IndiGo's services on Pune - Delhi - Pune sector

Leh – a place where I have wanted to go for years finally became a reality this year with my better half. We planned an extended trip with 8 days in Ladakh and 3 in Amritsar. To make the reviews simpler, I am breaking it into parts – the first, will cover the first flight and the last flight of the trip – both on IndiGo, another part covering the charter of Make My Trip – operated by Jet Airways, another part which will cover the flights on Jet Airways between Delhi and Amritsar and this part will also cover some bits about Amritsar and the last one about Leh and the overall experience.

Trip Planning
Since the destination was known, options were explored – Land in Srinagar, drive via night halt in Kargil to Leh and fly out to Delhi or head to Manali by Road, or the reverse but it was turning out to be very expensive. Suddenly, I remembered how one of my professors had taken up a trip with Make My Trip Last year – we had met at the airport in Pune, when he told me about this trip and I quickly got in touch with him who recommended the trip.

MakeMyTrip was explored in detail and dates finalized based on my ongoing projects at work. MMT allowed payment in three installments and had multiple options for booking.

The options were available ex-Delhi or multiple city of origin from the country. I chose Delhi and decided to book the Pune-Delhi-Pune legs on my own, since I was planning to combine one more destination – which we settled for Amritsar.

How does the trip look like!
12th July PNQ DEL on 6E 402
13th July DEL IXL on MMT 9W 9930
20th July IXL DEL on MMT 9W 9931
20th July DEL ATQ on 9W 2791
23rd July ATQ DEL on 9W 373
23rd July DEL PNQ on 6E401


This TR will cover the onward and return leg on IndiGo 6E 402/6E 401. 

Those who know me, know well about my love for IndiGo and how I have tracked its every flight, aircraft induction, rotation and station. In one such contest on twitter, I had won a voucher of Rs.2000/- for guessing their next destination; it was Varanasi – which they connected with three flights a day to Delhi with onward connections to Hyderabad, Bangalore & Mumbai. It is this planning of IndiGo – which I call, select a station and flood it with flights, which make IndiGo different from the rest of the pack in India. It has effectively helped them have less stations but good connectivity - on the domestic network.

Booking

The plan was to stay put at the airport since the check in for MMT flight will be at 0330 hours, so we selected the IndiGo departure at 2035 which would take us to Delhi at 2240 and hope to take an hour to take baggage and go to T3, just to kill time. 

The vouchers which I had won were 4 vouchers of Rs.500/- each and IndiGo website is not friendly enough to let me know how to use four vouchers at the same time. I tweeted about this and within minutes got a call to help me out. Very happy to see such faster responses on social media and how brand conscious IndiGo is!

Overall the booking was effortless, and I was able to utilize the vouchers to book the two flights on IndiGo. The validity of the same was end of July and hence we did not explore any other option.

6E 401/402 flight history & Rotation

Pune – historically had an informal NOTAM in the evenings. No flights from 2000 to 2230, which was later relaxed to 2000 – 2200. End of June’12, limited flights were allowed in this time and on 25th June I traveled in the first ever scheduled flight in this timing which also was the launch flight for 6E 401/6E 402. The flight that day was operated by VT-IGS and its departure timing was 2100, arriving into Delhi at 2305.

It now departs at 2035 from Pune.

Flight Tracking

Like always, I started tracking this flight over a week before departure.

Date
Aircraft
Rotation Flt No
Sector
Dep Time
2
INS
384/486/486/201/204/401/402
MAA-HYD-RPR-DEL-CCU-DEL-PNQ
8:52
3
IEL
384/486/486/201/204/401/402
MAA-HYD-RPR-DEL-CCU-DEL-PNQ
8:30
4
INQ
384/486/486/201/204/401/402
MAA-HYD-RPR-DEL-CCU-DEL-PNQ
8:40
5
IFD
384/486/486/201/204/401/402
MAA-HYD-RPR-DEL-CCU-DEL-PNQ
8:35
6
IGK
384/486/486/201/204/401/402
MAA-HYD-RPR-DEL-CCU-DEL-PNQ
8:35
7
IFJ
317/317/314/314/401/402
DEL-HYD-COK-HYD-DEL-PNQ
8:24
8
IFJ
179/179/196/196/401/402
DEL-BOM-AMD-BOM-DEL-PNQ
8:48
9
Information Not available on Flight Radar


8:40
10
IFR
298/298/179/196/196/401/402
MAA-COK-BOM-AMD-BOM-DEL-PNQ
8:38
11
IEE
384/486/486/201/204/401/402
MAA-HYD-RPR-DEL-CCU-DEL-PNQ
8:40

Absolutely no issues with its OTP, a minor 15-20 minute delay is welcome since that would mean we spend less time at the airport in Delhi.

More or less, it looked like the aircraft would maintain the MAA-HYD-RPR-DEL-CCU-DEL-PNQ rotation, and I was tracking that flight since I woke up, VT-INQ it would be. 

Day of departure

After some terrible experiences with local cabs in Pune, we have managed to fix up on a cab guy who so far has been on time, and this time was no different. We left at 1800 hours, and I started tracking if the incoming aircraft has left too, VT-INQ left Delhi at 1818 as per FR24, 13 mins behind schedule.

We reached the airport and got down under the new canopy structure at 1850hours. A lot has been written by me about the Pune airport, and I would skip writing any further apart from the new things.

Check-in & Airport Experience

Effortlessly checked in by blocking 13A and 13B, about 44 hours to departure. The IndiGo IT team needs to make a change here. If I check in for two pax and take a print of boarding pass, it prints it one below the other on the same page, which you cannot tear off and take it to security. It either has to be printed on two different pages or with a lot of space between the two.

The stupid double checking of CISF continues at Pune, within few feet of each other. The standard, look at the ticket, look at the license, understand nothing, cluelessly look at the passenger and let him or her in, continued at the gate.

We got our bags screened and reached one of the three open counters of IndiGo, all of which showed 6E402 to Delhi.

I informed the person manning the counter that I have already checked in but would need the boarding cards and requested for priority baggage tagging since I am proceeding to Leh and its of utmost importance that I get my baggage with me.

Both the requests were quickly adhered to and off went our baggage, but not before, we were told that Pune being a small station does not have Priority tags but the ground staff was informed on their internal frequency about the sequence number and that they should be loaded last and on priority. 

Addition to my list of menu cards with spelling mistakes
We headed for security, which was empty and where in SHA in no time at 1900 hours. Benefits of a small airport.

Good Work – IndiGo! Baggage Screening to security in less than 10 minutes.

All the 8 bays were empty, as we took a vantage seat overlooking the apron near the gates. Noticed on the FIDS, how AI850, the historic Air India flight on the sector had left on time, being operated by an A319, which is indeed very good fleet swapping by Air India, downgrading the 1600 dep ex DEL to A319 and upgrading the 1835 dep to A321. 6E406 had left before time too.

It started raining, as we bought coffee and some noodles. 

VT-JGY landed at 1925hours operating as 9W 367 from Delhi and occupied bay#2. Most likely this would be my aircraft to Leh, the next morning. It’s an absolute shame that Jet Airways has to operate a 737-700 on the lucrative Delhi – Pune route.

Air India announcements now said, Air India – Star Alliance flight AI 854, kudos and congrats to Air India on this.

There were strange announcements at Pune – about four wheelers and two wheelers being parked at the main gate. I would have assumed this to be a security threat and towed it away ASAP.

METAR

VAPO 121230Z 27008KT 6000 RA BKN012 BKN090 23/23 Q0994 NOSIG=

Pune has been reeling under water shortage and scanty rainfall, and here we were going away from Pune when the rains finally started!

Boarding

VT-INQ arrived before time and took its position at 2000 hours. Surprisingly, the crew changes for this last leg of the rotation and the crew quickly went ahead of the passengers, for what looked like a full flight.

One reason I am a big fan of IndiGo is because of how their Airport Services approaches the aircraft and turnaround. Stand next to the bay, while the aircraft is on approach, with the step ladder positioned to quickly be attached to the aircraft, along with the conveyor nearby to start the unloading. And once they have the aircraft in their control – its “टूटपडो“  on the aircraft. 

Today was no different, we started boarding at 2010, which took us back to the ground floor from the first and were seated at 2015.

VT-INQ is MSN 3414 delivered in February 2008, currently 6.5 years old and one of the birds whose lease seems to have been extended from the standard 6 year IndiGo lease pattern. The aircraft was clean, seat belts properly kept, interiors spic and span and so was the fuselage.
The crew announced their names, cities they belong to and started the safety demo. I am wondering why they have not displayed the life jacket on both the flights.

I was expecting older seats on the aircraft, since I have not liked their newer seats, which tend to be a little uncomfortable and I wonder how good a chance they would have compared to the all leather ones on the competition. However, looks like IndiGo has been changing the seats during one of the checks, since this aircraft had newer seats. Bummer!

Recently, I was part of an interesting discussion about in-flight hindi , and how the translation by some airlines makes it funny.

This flight was an addition to this, even before boarding was over, IndiGo announced that it is important to be on time and hence they would request pax on row 12 and 13 to keep their baggage in the over head bin. The hindi announcement said, “समयपर रहना अनिवर्य है”/“ Samay par rehna aniwarya hai” ( It is mandatory to be on-time). Before landing, when the crew came to collect trash, the announcement became – “समयपर रहना महत्वपुर्णा है”/Samay par rehna mahatwapurna hai” ( It is important to be on-time)

Another addition to that is the translation on the seat.
Please fasten seat belt while seated -> Baithe hue kursi ki peti bandhe rakhiye ya khursi par baithe ho toh peti bandhe rakhiye. Little confusion in my mind over here

I guess IndiGo needs to understand the difference and stick to one of the two announcements, ideally the later one, I don’t think its mandatory to be on time, but it certainly is important.

At 2025 boarding was complete, followed by a quick announcement by the pilot asking ground personnel to deplane and requesting the crew to close and arm all doors. Doors were closed at 2026 and the crew proudly announced, “Closing doors at 8:26, IndiGo standard Time”

The pilot quickly announced that we would cruise at FL350 and reach Delhi in 1hour 45minutes. We pushed back at 2028, and taxied to runway 28, holding short for a landing and took off in the westerly skies at 2041. The weather wasn’t clear, yet the flight throughout wasn’t bumpy but could not notice anything below.

It was only later, that I noticed on FlightRadar how we overflew Mumbai and closer to the coast at Surat before joining the regular Mumbai – Delhi flight path.




Inflight

Service started at 2100hours. This is one area where IndiGo is lacking bigtime. Service quality, speed and food quality. Apart from the fact that lack of ovens in aircraft means that IndiGo cannot service hot food, the food served itself is not very tasty or of good quality. We opted for Chicken Junglee and Veg. Submarine – chewy chicken with dry bread and even drier bread for the submarine. Orange Juice and Water to go with it, costed us Rs.460/-

We were seated on row 13 and the aft trolley and crew started service from row 12, yet it took around 15 mins for us to place the order. After over half an hour, the trolley was still at row 15. There is confusion amongst the crew as to where is each stuff placed and a lot of time is wasted on getting all the drawers opened to search stuff. I am sure, many a times, certain stuff may be available but the pax is said it is over because the crew has not been able to find it.




This is one reason, why few months ago, I chose Air India over IndiGo – food! 

The pilot came on PA again at 2200 hours informing about our descent into Delhi in few minutes, the temperate being 34degrees and we are expecting a before time arrival.

There were two quick rounds of cleaning and we settled back for a decent landing on runway 10 at 2228. I feared it to be a long bus ride, based on my previous experience for this flight, but we were lucky to be parked in the first row at Delhi.
An Air India B744 was being prepared at the IAF dispersal, for what would be PM’s trip to Brazil that night. In front of our aircraft was VT-RJD in the Air India hanger, without engines.

Deplaning

We quickly made our way out and baggage indeed arrived in no time. Thankfully the bus ride was short.

Flight Summary
6E402
STD:2035                     ATD: 2028
STA:2240                     ATA: 2230
Aircraft: VT-INQ

On-Time: 5/5
Website: 5/5
Check-in & Airport Experience: 5/5
Aircraft cleanliness: 5/5
In-flight service: 4/5
Food: 2/5
Alighting & arrival experience: 5/5

----------------------------------------- 6E 401 Delhi to Pune ------------------------------------------

As we got down from 9W 373, took our baggage and rushed out of T3, we had 2:20 mins for the next flight. This time was to be used to transfer from T3 to T1D at Delhi, check-in, security and food. The display at the DTDC bus counter read – 1620 for the next bus, arrival in T3 at 1535 and departing from T1D at 1805, we hardly had the luxury to wait for the bus and proceeded towards Meru to take us to T1D. It cost us Rs.270, including the airport surcharge but we were at T1D in no time. I was travelling from here after a really long time.

Airport Experience

I had already checked-in for seats 13A & 13B, and as we removed the tags on the bags from the previous flight and entered the terminal, noticed long queues at Spicejet counter. I was expecting similar lines at IndiGo counter considering the number of flights they have at this time of the day, but the counters were empty and we immediately proceeded to the counter, which was manned by a trainee. This gentleman efficiently checked in our baggage, issued boarding cards and smilingly informed us about the Gate Number and time.

I was ofcourse tracking the rotation since morning and it was running before time for all its legs, with VT-IGX expected to land around 1700 hours in Delhi from Kolkata.

We proceeded to security which was better than snail’s pace yet slow. The Hold Area was crowded, with next to Nil seating available and crowd swelling by the minute. DIAL indeed needs to shift atleast one airline from T1 to T3 at the earliest. In hope of spotting some aircraft take off and land, we headed to the upper level and managed to get a table near the glass façade, only to be disappointed by seeing how GMR has covered up the windows now, blocking all views of the runway and apron.


There were long lines at Vaango & KFC but showing some patience, bought Filter Coffee from Vaango.

We tried killing time by roaming around and eventually reached the ground floor gate area, expecting an early boarding. Next to gate 19, from where we were to board, IndiGo was boarding to Raipur on one side and Chennai on another and people casually and leisurely reached the gate. I am sure it must be a tough task to maintain OTP when you have your guests coming up this late!

Boarding was announced at 1740hours and we were taken by bus to Bay 8, where VT-IFD our ride for the day stood by. The rotation had been changed for the day, and this aircraft would have arrived from Mumbai.

As we boarded from the front, the door was literally blocked with trolley containing a lot of food which was to be sold on board. Interestingly, this trolley made its way to the back galley in the middle of the boarding. I am sure the in flight crew could have managed this well.

Boarding continued for a long time & there was no boarding complete announcement by the crew, even after passengers stopped boarding at 1750 and the flight looked full.

Capt. Thomas Kurian from Bengaluru was in command and he welcomed us on board around 1800, also the time, when the crew announced “Boarding Complete”. Capt. Kurian briefed us about the flying time of 1:40 mins for 1220 kms to Pune and we would fly at 36000 feet.

METAR

Just before switching off my phone, I checked the latest METAR.

231200Z 06009KT 4500 HZ SCT035 FEW040CB BKN100 30/24 Q0998 TEMPO 07020KT 1500 TS=

Doors closed at 1801 and we pushed back at 1802 for a long taxi to runway 09. The crew gave safety demonstration and the life jacket part was left out again, if I remember correctly.

It was an eventless flight with little turbulence, similar service as it was on the way to Delhi, needing improvement in speed and efficiency and definitely taste and quality of food stuff. We opted for Spinach & Corn Sandwich, along with Jalapeno Corn Chips and coffee. When we asked for another corn chips, Jalapeno wasn’t available since only one was uplifted. Disappointing. We chose the spicy olive option which wasn’t as good as Jalapeno. The sandwich wasn’t upto the mark, again. I hope IndiGo starts giving ketchup atleast, which is staple for many Indians and which will add some taste to their bland and dry sandwiches!

Around 1930, Capt.Kurian came on PA and announced that we cruised at 850 kmph and we would start the descend into Pune soon and that Pune was reporting Rain, with 24 degrees and gusts of winds with expected arrival being 1955 hours, 10 mins ahead of schedule.

We landed on runway 28 at 1952 and taxied to the bay, coming to a halt at 1954. The baggage would be on belt number 2 said the crew as doors opened and we quickly made out way to the terminal.



Baggage arrived much faster than what Air India takes, but could have been faster.

Overall a good flight.

Flight Summary

Aircraft: VT-IFD
MSN: 5298, delivered to IndiGo in September’12.

STD: 1805        ATD:1802
STA:2005         ATA:1954

Take-off : runway 09
Landing : Runway 28

On-Time: 5/5
Website: 5/5
Check-in & Airport Experience: 5/5
Aircraft cleanliness: 5/5
In-flight experience: 3/5
Food: 2/5
Alighting & arrival experience: 5/5

Good
+ On-Time
+ Aircraft cleanliness
+ Connectivity
+ Airport Services
+ Ease of Booking & website
+ Innovative features like Braille menu card

Needs Improvement
-         - Inflight Service
-        -  Food Quality


4 comments:

  1. Dear ameya. Nice review i must say.
    Regarding your query ..for life jacket demo. I would like to tell you that there are few conditions for doing that demo.
    1. Flight path should be more than 50nm from shore.
    2. Takeoff, landing or approach is disposed over water.
    Your flight path didt had any of this condition thats why no life jacket demo.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot. Helps a lot to understand.

      Delete
  2. Thanks for sharing good information KFC Wednesday Offer! Avail this offer on zaykedaar.com and get 50% OFF on your next order!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey check this out! I found this food delivery app offering some great discounts in Pune! zaykedaar.com

    ReplyDelete