Saturday, October 25, 2014

Mysore to Bangalore in Airavat Club Class

September 09, 2014:
The first thing on my mind as I walked out of the conference hall in JSS Hospital was to reach Bangalore as soon as possible. I took an auto to the Suburban Bus Station. I had to collect my bag from the hotel I was put up in Mysore - so collected my baggage and headed back to the bus station. As I walked into the bus station, I saw an Airavat Club Class of Bangalore Depot-4 rushing towards the Bangalore Platform. The bus was the first Multi-axle bus of Karnataka RTC - KA-01-F-9133. I walked as fast as I could with the baggage towards the platform. As I reached the platform, the conductor was busy shouting Bengaloor Bengaloor Bengaloor!
KA-01-F-9133 (photo from archives)
The bus was working Kozhikode-Bangalore day service schedule that day - I guess the regular bus had gone for maintenance. The bus wasn't very crowded - just about 20 passengers or so. I headed towards the rear and took a seat in the rear half of the bus. The interiors seemed worn out - the bus was about 4 years old, and the light shade of upholstery had born the brunt of continuous usage. The bus missed its rear LCD screen as well.

We started from Mysore Suburban Bus Station at 1630hrs with around 24 passengers on board. The conductor came around and issued tickets - it set me poorer by Rs. 300. I confirmed with the conductor that the bus would drop me at Shantinagar - he replied positive. The driving was typical Bangalore division style - lug the engine as much as possible, and stick to the same gear irrespective of speed. The bus maintained constant pace as far as possible. A Bollywood movie was played in the AV System. I left my phone to charge for sometime, and dozed off.
The ticket - Rs. 300 for about 144kms
The driving was stable throughout - except for the lugging, the style was good. There was nothing specific to mention through the journey. We passed NICE Road Junction around 1859hrs. We made a stop at Kengeri to drop a passenger (1905hrs) and continued towards Bangalore. The typical evening traffic in Bangalore made us crawl into the city - it was bumper-to-bumper traffic and we could reach Satellite Bus Station only by 1934hrs. The bus did not enter the bus station - just stopped on the main road to drop passengers. The bus took the flyover straight to Corporation circle, and finally dropped me at Shantinagar bus station at 1954hrs. 3h24m end-to-end (only 3h04m till Satellite bus station). I took a BMTC Volvo from Shantinagar and headed home,

End Notes: The bus was KA-01-F-9133 from Bangalore Central Division, Depot-4. The old lady had clocked about 9.56 Lakh kms - she has been on almost all the routes that KSRTC operates on. The maintenance was above average - there was a bit of rattling from the rear suspension set-up. The interiors weren't very clean - lots of spots on the upholstery and the roofing. The rear LCD screen was missing as well. The driving was above average - the driver lugged the engine at a lot of instances. The driving was very controlled though - a stable speed with no attempts to overspeed.

Amenities:
Blanket: No
Water: Yes
Snacks: No
Charging Point: Yes (On throughout)
Entertainment: Yes (A movie played)

Ratings:
Maintenance: 3.5/5
Cleanliness: 4/5
Driving: 4/5
Crew behaviour: 5/5
Punctuality: No Ratings

Overall: 4.5/5

Will I take this service again? There is no better option in this route than KSRTC!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bangalore to Thrissur by Kerala RTC Volvo B9R - again!

It was time for another trip to Kerala – another short vacation. This time the mood wasn’t upbeat since I had to attend the post funeral rites of my Grandmother, who passed away the previous week. My office was kind to approve my vacation. All the buses on Friday were going full, and I did not have any bookings – I decided to start on Saturday afternoon instead – because I badly wanted to sleep without the fear of an alarm.

October 18, 2014:
I had a nice leisurely sleep and woke up very late in the morning. Being a weekend before a long Diwali week, even the day bus was running full that day. Many colleges too were closing that week, and a lot of students were heading to their home towns. Of late, the airline bug has bitten me as well, and I was checking for any last minute deals – almost clinched one, but a power failure and the associated loss of internet connection made me lose the deal. I left home sometime towards noon, and headed straight to a restaurant and had a brunch. The start of a long weekend meant heavy traffic snarls, and the 15 km ride to Majestic BS took no less than 2 hours! I headed straight to the Kerala RTC booking counter there to get a ticket for my ride home. I had the option of choosing one of the three Volvos that evening – but for some reason decided to take the last one i.e., the 2000hrs Ernakulam Volvo.

The reservation system was in a mess due to an internet connectivity failure (an issue from the provider’s side) – it took about an hour to solve the issue. Later, I headed to Satellite Bus Station in a shuttle bus. I reached the bus station by around 1815 hours – and it was a Cadbury Shots moment when I saw the bus that would ferry me – really Mann mein laddoo moment (See this video to know what is a Shots moment) – it was RS784 that night. I always get its pairing bus, and was really excited to see this guy waiting there. In the meantime the Kottayam bound Multi came to the platform for departure – loads weren’t great for this bus. After spending some time at the bus station, I headed to Hotel Kadamba at the bus station for a light dinner. My bus was brought in at 1930hrs – so RS784 was all set to take me home that night.
The bus: RS784 of Ernakulam (Photo from Archives)
The bus was very clean inside – blankets were all folded and kept on the conductor seat. The exteriors had the effect of the previous night’s rain. We had to wait for some time for a reserved passenger to turn up and this delayed our departure a bit. We started only at 2010hrs instead of the scheduled 2000hrs. The bus station had very bad traffic, and we came out of the bus station only at 2016hrs – a good 6 minutes from the platform to the exit gate – a distance of about 150 metres! An FM station was being played, which broadcasted some recent Bollywood tracks. Soon after we were on the main road, the conductor came around distributing blankets to all the passengers. Traffic was not as bad I had experienced during the day – we could reach Shantinagar bus station by 2042hrs. The pick-up point here is still not standardized – passengers stand through the length of Platform 3 (where this bus has a pick-up). This confusion, along with the fact that the conductor had to record the timings at the Kerala RTC office there, meant that we could leave from there only at 2047hrs. By now, almost all the reserved passengers had boarded. A movie was played on the TV now – it was a fairly recent Malayalam movie. 

I expected some traffic blocks around Dairy Circle – but there was no blocks. A small snarl at Forum was all we had to face. We reached Madiwala at 2110 – picked up a passenger and got moving. Now we had about 25 passengers on board. The driver picked up pace quite soon – surprisingly there was absolutely no traffic at Madiwala market. We passed Bommanahalli at 2120hrs. There was a bit of traffic around Singasandra – but nothing major. We passed Electronic City at 2131hrs – there were no pick-ups here. After Electronic City, the driver picked pace and we were crusing at fairly decent speeds. Attibele toll was passed at 2148hrs – no traffic here as well. Just a few metres after the toll gate, a traffic hold-up started. It was bumper-to-bumper here onwards. A lot of fire-cracker shops mushroom around this area during Diwali – and the scene was no different this time. These stalls attract a lot of buyers from Bangalore and this causes a lot of traffic blocks – and this was what was happening. It was 2211hrs by the time we passed the Zuzuwadi incoming RTO Check-post – that is about 23 minutes to cover a km from Attibele toll gate!

There was no traffic beyond Zuzuwadi CP, and we could pass Hosur at 2216hrs. The driver maintained good pace after Hosur. We passed the normal set of hotels where other operators stop – and we finally turned off the road and got into Hotel Uthaiya (now Hotel Nandhini) – at 2251hrs. I dread being at this place – I was a bit hungry and decided to try out something from this place – the interiors of the restaurant had changed a lot and is now much cleaner. The food was served hot and it actually tasted good. I had ordered for Parotta and Green Peas Masala – the bill gave me a good jolt though – ₹120! The first thing I noticed when I came out of the restaurant was that the driver had locked the bus before he went for dinner – now that was a great move – really appreciate it! The driver came back and opened the bus – he switched on the engine and the AC. We started from the place at 2321hrs. Once back on the highway, I pushed back my backrest and prepared to sleep – the driving style changed totally now, and the speeds were stable now. 

I had a nice sleep afterwards – vaguely remember the bus stopping somewhere for a tea break – not sure where it was or what time it was. I woke up only when the conductor called out “Coimbatore” – we were standing outside the Gandhipuram bus station now – and my watch read 0342hrs. A couple of passengers got in (they had a reservation!) and we started off at 0347hrs. I got back to sleep and had another round of undisturbed sleep till we stopped at Palakkad – this time, the bus went inside the bus station and stopped near the fuel station (0506hrs). The conductor went to record the timings, and we started again at 0509hrs. About a couple of minutes after we started, the conductor received a call from a passenger who was left behind at Palakkad BS! We had to wait for this passenger to turn up – since we were only at a walking distance from the bus station, there wasn’t much of a scene – the bus started again at 0517hrs – after this passenger came to the bus. 

I dozed off for some more time – but the poor condition of the road did not let me sleep for long. I was awake by the time we passed Kuthiran pass. I dozed off again after Kuthiran, and woke up just as we were passing Mannuthy (0634hrs). I was finally dropped outside Sakthan Nagar Municipal Bus Station at 0641hrs – about 10 hours and 25 minutes after I set off from Bangalore. 

End Notes: The bus was KL-15-A-282, RS784 from Ernakulam depot. The bus had clocked about 88000kms on the odo. There were two crew members – one driver and a conductor. The driver was carrying a thermos flask to stock enough hot beverage to last the night. Both the drivers were well behaved – they spoke to the passengers decently. I thing I did not like was missing a passenger behind – the conductor should’ve taken a headcount before signaling the driver to start. The bus was maintained well – no rattles. The driving was excellent – he maintained constant pace – no drag races or hard brakes. In fact, even on the two-laned sections in Kerala, the driving was very composed. The end-to-end running time was high – but I loved the fact that the driving was very sleep friendly. Overall a good experience.

Amenities:
Blanket: Yes
Water: No
Snacks: No
Charging Point: Yes (On throughout)
Entertainment: Yes (A movie played)

Ratings:
Maintenance: 5/5
Cleanliness: 5/5
Driving: 5/5
Crew behaviour: 4/5 (-1 for missing a passenger)
Punctuality: 4.75/5

Overall: 4.75/5

Will I take this service again? Certainly, and recommended!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

COK to BLR by Indigo A320

I just got the sanction for a 10 day vacation and wanted to make the most of it – and returning by air was the only way to optimize my days at home. I spent time pondering on various travel websites looking for cheap options to return from home. Airfares were quite over the roof for the date I wanted, and had almost decided to book a bus. I was shocked seeing bus fares around the same range as air-tickets. After spending some more time searching for tickets, I zeroed in on Indigo 412 – which had a late evening departure (2050hrs) and was selling for ₹2399 (the lowest for that date). I selected a free seat and option for the advance check-in option as well. Days flew by, and I was on the last date of my vacation – like everybody, I had a heavy heart and longed to spend some more days at home. Sometime around 11AM, my paternal grandmother passed away, and I had to cancel the trip. The funeral got over late in the night, and I planned to take a day-time bus for my return.

Since I slept quite late in the night, I woke up only by around 10AM. The day buses were gone. I was pondering on “what next” by now. I wanted to reach Bangalore by 5-5.30AM max. The options were quite limited for my requirements, and the ones which did that were awfully priced. An evening Kerala RTC Super Deluxe had some seats available – and that bus normally reaches before 5AM as well – but then I thought twice if I should take the risk of taking a Super Deluxe again (the memories of my last Super Deluxe ride wasn’t very pleasant). I desperately checked for air fares – and all of them were selling above 4.5-5K, which was way beyond my budget. Sometime in the afternoon, I was finalizing on a late evening bus which goes to Hyderabad via Bangalore, when I thought of checking the Indigo website once again – I was bowled over to see a ticket for Rs. 1999 for flight #412, which leaves at 2050hrs. Without much thoughts, I just hit the book button and confirmed my journey. Interestingly, I got the same seat (#8A) as my cancelled trip.

September 13, 2014:
I had an early “dinner” and left home sometime around 1900hrs. My brother was at the wheels – traffic was a bit heavy in the initial few kilometres, giving me a bit of tension. Traffic eased up after Parur and my brother let the beast loose. I was dropped at the airport at around 1945hrs. The domestic terminal of Cochin Airport is always sleepy – all the action lies at the international terminal, thanks to the middle-east boom in Kerala. Once inside the Terminal, it looked like I walked into an airport at peak hour – there were lots of people around baggage screening and even more people waiting outside the check-in gates. There were 6 check-in counters open for Indigo – I hadn’t done a web-check-in this time, and hence headed to the last counter – which had absolutely no queue. The agent at the counter smiled as she took my ticket printout and politely asked for my ID proof. She printed out my boarding pass – and I got the same seat that I selected online.

This time, the security check wasn’t empty – there were a couple of people ahead of me. The guards there were very friendly – they assisted people in getting trays and putting their laptops on it. I cleared security check quite fast, and was in the terminal area by 2005 hrs! The seating area was quite full this time. An Air India flight to Delhi was just departing, while a Jet Airways flight was boarding (that was an international departure). Sometime around 2007hrs, just after the AirIndia to Delhi was pushed back, I saw my aircraft taxiing into the apron. The aircraft parked right outside our boarding gate, and passengers were de-boarding very quick. The first boarding call was made at 2015hrs – but they did not let the passengers move to the aircraft until around 2020hrs. I was inside the aircraft by 2022hrs.
VT-IFS, the craft which did the honours (Photo courtesy: Girish B @ Jetphotos.net)
The aircraft was VT-IFS, an Airbus 320 with sharklets delivered in August 2013. I am a fan of Indigo’s livery, and love their simplicity. Me and my family has had very positive experiences with Indigo, and was actually looking forward to fly with them again. And, Indigo doesn’t seem to indulge in the cut-throat fare wars and still have fairly good loads. Coming back to the trip, the purser was at the door welcoming all the guests with a smile. There were three other attendants who were standing along the gangway equally spaced from each other – they assisted passengers in leaving their hand-baggage in overhead bins and directing passengers to their seats. The aircraft was flying to Hyderabad via Bangalore and hence there were two sets of passengers – one bound to Bengaluru and another to Hyderabad.

There was one huge family from Andhra – who had their seats strewn around – the attendants had quite a task to settle them down – and to add to the confusion, there were three kids, who cried all the way from Kochi to Bengaluru! Some confusion between the ground staff and the onboard crew about the number of passengers delayed our departure – it was later solved, and we were finally pushed back at 2053hrs – three minutes delayed. After being pushed back, we had to wait for the taxiway to be vacated by another Indigo aircraft which had just arrived from Mumbai (and would head to Chennai later). By now the safety demo had commenced – they were playing a pre-recorded announcement, which was quite clear and audible. They also gave an introduction to their “Hello 6E” on-board catalogue, which listed a lot of buy-on-board stuff including stuff like aircraft replicas, toys and snacks. We started taxiing at 2059hrs – we were to take off from the distant Runway #27. The taxiing take quite some time to the holding area. We had to wait until a SpiceJet Q400 (coming in from Hyderabad) landed (at 2107hrs).

We finally took off at 2109hrs, from Runway 27. Daytime take-offs from Runway 27 are marvelous – my first flight journey was from this very airport, and we had taken off from Rwy27 as well! The aircraft took off straight to the west, and banked to the right, slowly executed a “U” turn and flew towards the North-East. The sky was quite clear, and there was no turbulence through-out. The seat-belt sign was turned off soon, and the buy-on-board service began. They first prioritized passengers who had pre-booked a meal. A lot of passengers had booked their meal, and the progress was quite slow. I did not buy anything, and decided to grab a sub after landing at Bengaluru. Landing was announced at 2141hrs. By now, the marvelous city of Bengaluru was visible – we passed over a couple of major roads which had traffic blocks (this confirmed we were flying over Bengaluru). We flew to the east, turned around and approached Bangalore from the east. We touched down at 2149hrs on Rwy27. Sadly, we were delayed!

As we taxied to the apron, I saw a flurry of activity on the ground – a lot of 6E ground buses and crew vehicles were running around – I saw an Ashok Leyland terminal bus rushing towards a gate – the busfan in me hoped we get that Leyland bus. But, Alas! The aircraft went and stood near an aerobridge – and we got a gate with an aerobridge!! By the time the aircraft stopped, there was a mad queue inside the aircraft with people hurrying to get off. I remained seated till most of the crowd got off – my co-passenger was continuing to Hyderabad. I joined the alighting queue as the crowd thinned. 6E agents standing on the aerobridge welcome us with a smile. It was a long walk from there to the exit gate. The first lot of bags from our aircraft reached the belts just as I reached there – I had only hand-baggage.

Once out of the airport, I headed straight to Subway, grabbed a sub and headed to the intra-city bus terminal. BMTC needs to be commended for the great job they are doing with the bus service.  Albeit expensive, the buses do a great job in taking passenger to the city without burning a very big hole in their pocket. I was confused about which bus to take – but later decided to take the first one that leaves. I got into KIAS-9 – which was leaving first. This bus goes to Majestic. I got a seat towards the back of the bus – and I got a 2 seater all of myself. I was dropped in Majestic a minutes before midnight – and had pre-booked a cab from there to home. I was at home by about 25 minutes past midnight.

Ratings:
Check-in: 5/5
Cleanliness: 5/5
Punctuality: 4.9/5
Crew: 5/5
Overall: 5/5 (I’d give them full marks despite the minor delay)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Bangalore to Thrissur - Kerala RTC Volvo B9R

A four day weekend in October - coinciding with Gandhi Jayanti - was an indication for yet another trip home. I had decided to book on either of the KSRTCs for my trip. KaSRTC opened tickets one month in advance - the tickets in regular buses itself were overpriced on the opening day itself. I did not feel like booking an overpriced ticket knowing very well that they'd not stick to the schedule. So the next option was Kerala RTC. I decided to stay awake at night and book a ticket on the opening day. But my experience during opening day for Onam sent shivers down my spine - I had two back-to-back failed transactions that time. I did not want a repeat of that. I checked for tickets at 00:00hrs on 11-September-2014. The site did not open at all - forget booking a ticket. Since the next day was working, I set an alarm for 5.30am and slept off. Woke up in the morning, and found 4 unsold seats in the 2000hrs Ernakulam Multi-axle. I tried booking one of them, but continuously got an error message saying the seat was "already selected" by someone else. Knowing how the system works, I got ready quickly and rushed to the nearest reservation counter - at Majestic BS. The friendly counter person quickly verified the seats and issued Seat #23 to me. So I had "won" a ticket for the long weekend, in a government multi-axle bus at normal rates!

October 01, 2014:
I had to leave office exactly at 1700hrs in-order to reach home on time, pack my baggage and leave home in time to catch my bus. Although the scheduled pick-up time at Bommanahalli (my pick-up point) was 2025hrs, the bus would in no-way reach before 2100hrs. Sometime around 2030hrs, I called up the conductor on the new official number - I was told that they were yet to reach Shantinagar then. I left home around 2100hrs, and my brother dropped me at Bommanahalli around 2120hrs. Just after reaching there, I called up the conductor once again - now the bus had just departed from Shantinagar BS! That meant I had a lot of time to spend on the road side!!

In the meantime, my friend Gokul called up - he was on board the 1930hrs Thrissur Super Deluxe - and they were just leaving Madiwala. His bus turned up at Bommanahalli around 2145hrs - we exchanged a hi. In the meantime, a lot of Kerala bound passengers started turning up at Bommanahalli - they were for the Deluxe buses to Palakkad (2100hrs) and Thrissur (2200hrs). A couple of Karnataka RTC Airavats passed by as well. My bus turned up at Bommanahalli at 2224hrs - I was the only one to board from here. Mr Sandeep was the conductor and he welcome me with a very warm smile - he was the very same person who worked the inaugural trip of the same service. Interestingly, it was the same bus - RS782 - as well! This was my third trip in the same bus!
The bus: RS782 (An old image)
The bus left Bommanahalli in under a minute - since I was the only one to board. The bus was almost full already - my co-passenger was also seated. I got into my seat - #23, and settled down quick. In the meantime, the conductor came around and checked if I got my blanket. A movie was being played on TV. By now, roads got emptier and this helped us reach Electronic city at 2234 - all the seats filled up here, and we got moving at 2235hrs. We overtook the Thrissur bound Airavat Club Class here (2111hrs from Shantinagar). Attibele toll gate was a mess as usual - we took about 8 minutes to pass this toll gate (passed at 2258hrs). Thankfully, there was no traffic block at the Zuzuwadi checkpost and we could pass Hosur by 2307hrs.

The bus pulled in for dinner at the dreaded Hotel Uthaiya (now Hotel Nandhini) at 2342hrs - this is a messy place with overpriced food. Almost every item sold at the stalls here are overpriced. This place is a favourite for almost every bus driver - thanks to the free food they are served. Since I had already taken my dinner from home, I had nothing to do but roam around. We started off after the break at 0013hrs. The conductor was professional in approach - he did a headcount before starting. He came around and checked if anyone had any request as well. Once the bus was back on the highway, the driver liberally used the cruise control - the engine sounded really calm and relaxed. Since the bus kept constant pace, it aided in a very nice sleep. I slept from Krishnagiri toll upto Coimbatore Athupalam toll - I woke up when the bus was passing through this toll gate (approximately 0425hrs).

I slept again, and was woken only when the bus stopped at Palakkad Bus Station, and the conductor called out for passengers alighting there - the time was 0528hrs. The bus started towards Ernakulam at 0529hrs itself - they did not waste time trying for getting passengers from there. I tried sleeping again - but the rough road after Palakkad made the bus sway a lot and it disturbed my sleep. I slept on-and-off through the stretch. We stopped at Vadakkencherry (0607) and Pattikkad (0630) to drop passengers. The driver actually felt "at home" on two-lane stretches, since he was calculating his overtakes perfectly well, and did not make any rash or dangerous cuts anywhere in this stretch.

We finally passed Mannuthy at 0640hrs. I did not get off at Sakthan stand (as is my norm usually), but continued to the KSRTC bus station. We reached there at 0650hrs. We were perfectly on schedule even though the bus left quite delayed from Bangalore. The travelling time from Bommanahalli to Thrissur turned out to 8h26m including a 31 minute dinner break. The bus did not overspeed anywhere - the driving was absolutely sleep friendly as well. What surprised me was that the Bangalore-Trivandrum Special bus (Multi-axle) which left Bangalore at 1800hrs, was still standing at Thrissur!! This clearly meant that our bus had performed excellently that night.

End Notes: The bus was RS782, KL-15-A-280, of Ernakulam Depot. I did not check the odometer reading, but it should've clocked somewhere around 90K kms. The bus was in excellent condition - inside out. The interiors were clean and smelt fresh. Blankets were neatly folded and kept on the overhead rack, instead of keeping them on seats. The conductor checked if all the passengers got blankets as well. The driving was absolutely sleep friendly - no honking, rash cuts or hard brakes anywhere. The driver did not waste time on unnecessary tea breaks either - which is often a norm with Airavats. Overall, that was one Garuda Multi-Axle journey that I'd cherish forever.

Amenities:
Blanket: Yes
Water: No
Snacks: No
Charging Point: Yes (On throughout)
Entertainment: Yes (A movie played)

Ratings:
Maintenance: 5/5
Cleanliness: 5/5
Driving: 5/5
Crew behaviour: 5/5
Punctuality: 5/5

Overall: 5/5

Will I take this service again? Absolutely! Its a bit expensive compared to Airavat Club Classes - but its perfect on timings. Hasn't disappointed me yet.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

COK to BLR by JetKonnect ATR72

After getting a cheap ticket to fly to Kochi, I was on the hunt for the return ticket. I checked various reservation websites, and also different airline sites. On one portal, I found a JetKonnect flight for 1400-odd. I quickly checked with the official website which had fares slightly higher than the other portal. Since low fares often do not last long, I quickly booked the ticket with the 3rd party portal. Applied a coupon code and saved a little more money on the booking.

September 21, 2014:
The flight was to depart at 2215hrs. Sometime in the morning, I remembered about the web-check-in option, and checked in using the Jet Airways website. I used the mBoarding pass option, and got an image file on my phone. One needs to print the boarding pass at the self check-in counters in the Airport. I left home around 8pm - my dad was dropping me at the airport. I reached the airport around 9pm. The domestic terminal was quite deserted at the time - a few passengers were at the check-in counters. I headed to a self check-in counter and printed my boarding pass. From there I headed for security check - I was quite surprised to see that there were no passengers there! I was the lone passenger passing through check - passed through in under 3 minutes.

The terminal area wasn't very empty though - about 3 departures (including mine) were scheduled around the time. Two were to Chennai, and their boarding was on. Cochin airport looks very 'out-dated' compared to the swanky terminals of the newer greenfield airports. Wooden sofa-sets were lined in the seating area - the official capacity of the domestic terminal is only 400 pax! The two aircrafts to Chennai left one behind the other (an Indigo and a SpiceJet). In the meantime, I noticed my flight arriving at the airport. My flight was S2-3614 (9W-2614).

Boarding was announced at 2130hrs. They called passengers by the seat numbers - they initially called for the first 6 rows and then so on. I was in 3F - so quickly joined the queue. The agent at the gate quickly checked seat numbers and let passengers into the bus waiting outside. It was an old Ashok Leyland Avion. They called only as much passengers as they could seat in the bus. The aircraft was parked near the arrival gate - the ride to the aircraft was very short. The aircraft was VT-JCQ, an ATR72-500 commissioned in 2008. This was my first experience in a turbo-prop aircraft, and I was a bit curious of how it goes about. The Purser, or the chief flight attendant was at the aircraft door verifying the boarding passes and directing passengers to their seats. There were two flight attendants. In the meantime, the crew came in - a Lady captain was at command along a male First Officer. Boarding completed at 2155.
The aircraft: VT-JCQ (Photo courtesy: Arjun Sarup @ Airliners.net)
The aircraft was pushed back at 2158. The safety demo was conducted quickly as we prepared to taxi. Taxiing staring at 2202 and we were cleared for take-off without having to wait. We quickly aligned for take-off from Runway 09, and took off at 2205hrs. Turbo-prop aircrafts are too noisy. The seatbelt signs weren't switched off for some time. After about 5 minutes of take-off, the on board service - named "SkyCafe" started off. The attendant came around with the food trolley - I had taken a heavy dinner from home, and all I wanted was some water. After the service was over, the attendant came around once again with drinking water.

The first office (Mr. Nilesh) came on-line and announced that we were starting out descent. He announced that Capt. Vandana was in charge, and we were flying at 17K feet. Landing was finally announced at 2257hrs. In the meantime, I was busy trying to figure out where we were. We finally landed on Runway 27 at 2306hrs. We had a long run to the remote stand afterwards. The craft finally parked for the day, and deboarding started at 2312hrs. Two buses were waiting for us - I got into the second one. The bus ride was quite long. Getting out of the airport was quick - especially since I had only hand baggage with me. Once out of the airport, I headed straight to the BMTC bus station there - I enquired at the enquiry office if there were buses to Bannerghatta road - the guy there said there is KIAS-12, but suggested I get into KIAS-5 (which goes to JP Nagar).

I quickly took a seat in the KIAS-5 bus standing there - that bus was not to leave before 0000hrs! So another long wait there. The bus started exactly at 0000hrs - the bus was full. No standees though. The fare was Rs. 230 to JP Nagar. The ride took exactly an hour - I was dropped in JP Nagar at 0100hrs. The 6km auto ride from there to home set me poorer by Rs. 250 though!

This was another cheap flight trip - the actual end-to-end traveling time worked out to around 5:30hrs - including the waiting at the airports. This flight was a bit late for comfort - but still saves a lot of time!