COK to BLR: 9W ATR again!

The price at which I got the round-trip ticket continued to be the talk of the town (pun intended) as I attended a marriage in Kerala. I was back home by afternoon. Irrespective of the number of days I spend at home, I invariable have a heavy heart when the time to return comes. This time, I wasn't keeping really well, and I wasn't even able to have good food.

Date of Journey: November 09, 2014
Flight No: 9W-2614 || Aircraft: VT-JCM || Seat: 15A
STD: 2225hrs, ATD: 2207hrs
STA: 2350hrs, ATA: 2328hrs

I had a very early dinner, and walked out of home in the midst of a power failure, at around 1915hrs - it was quite dark as I walked towards the bus stop. It dawned on me that it was a Sunday only after waiting at the bus stop for close to 15 minutes to get a bus to the nearest town. I got a bus by sheer chance of luck - all thanks to two bus crew who were standing there - the guy literally stood on the road as he waved at the bus driver to stop. I reached Kodungallur sometime around 1940hrs - still about 2 hours to go for the boarding time - and the airport was around 30kms away. No bus towards the airport turned up until 2005hrs, when a bus to North Parur turned up - another round of waiting ensued at North Parur. Thankfully, roads were deserted, it being a Sunday evening. After changing three buses, and hiring a three-wheeler, I was at the airport by around 2125hrs - exactly an hour to go for my flight.

At the entrance, the CISF guard looked bemused at my e-ticket - he struggled to find out where was my flight listed - it was round trip booking, and he couldn't find where the entry was - he later let me in after I pointed out the booking details on the print out. As I entered into the terminal building, I was quite shocked to know that AirAsia was flying that night - my Sister-in-law was booking on a day time AirAsia flight, which they cancelled and simply offered a full refund without a word or thought on alternatives (that too on a Sunday!).

I rushed to the check-in counter (I had web checked in - but prefer a boarding pass than the print out) - Mr. David, the agent at the counter, smiled as he said, "So you have already checked in.. here is your boarding pass", while directing me to the security check. I walked towards the security check - but wait.. where is the security area gone? The doors were locked, and no boards existed! I looked around and spotted the "Security Check" board placed on the wall perpendicular to the old entrance - I initially thought this was a spare security checking area - but later realised that they've actually relocated the Scanning and frisking areas. There was just one CISF guy who manned the scanning equipment as well as did the frisking! It took me about 10 minutes to pass security check - and I was the lone passenger there!

As I entered the security hold, I noticed that Mr. David had already reached the gate and was preparing to let in passengers! Sometime around 2140 hrs, the aircraft flew in from Bangalore, and the characteristic announcement, "Jet Airways announces the arrival of their flight 9W-2613 from Bengaluru. The same aircraft will be operating 9W-2614 to Bengaluru. Please note that boarding will commence shortly" was made. Sometime around 2147hrs, the first boarding call was made. Jet Airways normally calls passengers by their seat numbers for boarding (atleast for their ATRs) - this time too, the passengers on Rows 1 through 7 were called - and, as expected, people seated on rows other than these rushed to the counter. I remain seated near the gate and watched all the fun unfold. Soon after the first 7 rows boarded, calls for the remaining passengers were made. I joined the queue, and passed boarding - David gave a big smile as he checked my boarding pass, and wished a great flight (thanks David for that!).
The aircraft: VT-JCM (Photo Courtesy: Siddarth Bhandary @ JetPhotos.net)
A rickety bus ferried me to VT-JCM, an ATR 72-500 delivered to Jet Airways in 2008, which would fly me to Bengaluru. Boarding was quite slow since people tend to mob the entrance, and they permit only one-at-a-time on the stairs of the ATR. I was inside the aircraft by 2158hrs, and boarding was completed by 2206hrs. Flight Attendant Dexter was at the door welcoming each passenger with a warm hello, while Purser Suman was inside helping passengers with their luggage. We were pushed off at 2207hrs - a good 18 minutes before time. Security demonstration was performed soon after push-off. We started our long taxi at 2213 hrs (we had to wait for an incoming Silk Air flight to clear the taxiway and reach the apron, before we started our move) - the taxi was quite long since we were taking off from Rwy27 that night. While we were taxiing, an Etihad A320 landed. We did no have to hold before take off - the aircraft just turned on to the runway, powered up and took off - we were airborne at 2220hrs.

Captain Vijay Dasari and First Officer Tarun were in command that night. Taking off on Rwy27 meant a sharp right turn-around soon after take off. Buy-on-board services commenced soon after the seat belt sign was switched off - being a late night flight, not many passengers opted to buy anything. I spent most of my time reading JetWings (I had infact marked a few sections to be read on my inward journey). Cabin lights were off for most of the time. I felt the seat was bit silent compared to the ones up front, but vibrations were certainly on the higher side at the back. The captain came on the PA system and spoke a few words about the flight - he informed that we were flying at 17000ft and that we would commence descent shortly. He assured a before time arrival as he signed off. Landing was announced at 2315hrs. I noticed that we were approaching Bengaluru from the west this time, unlike the normal approach from the east. Instead of flying around the south and easter parts of the city, we flew over the western and northern parts of the city and quickly aligned to land on Rwy09 (a first for me). The descent was quite steep and we finally touched down on Rwy09 at 2323hrs. Interestingly we taxied parallel to an AirAsia (Malaysia) - it was fun watching an A320 from our puny ATR. The aircraft finally parked at a night parking stand at 2328hrs. Deboarding started soon after, and I was in the bus waiting outside by 2334hrs - one big advantage of being at the rear of an ATR. I was out of the airport by 2340hrs - that was 10 minutes before our Scheduled arrival time! From the airport, I took a BMTC Volvo to JP Nagar, and then a taxi from there to home - finally reaching home sometime around 0115hrs - a door-to-door traveling time of 6 hrs.

Ratings:
Check-in: 5/5 (Not really relevant, since I had web checked in)
Cleanliness: 5/5
Punctuality: 5/5
Crew: 5/5
Overall: 5/5 

Comments

Aswin Shan said…
Etihad does not have any Boeing narrow bodies in its fleet. They operate the Airbus A320 narrow body to Kochi.
Binai K Sankar said…
Thanks Aswin, for the correction. Have updated.

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