DASH from Mangalore to Bangalore!

It was a long spate of exams - I wrote some, I officiated in some. It was tiring days all though. To add to the mess was a working day on Sunday as well. I decided to take a bus to Mangalore, and the return was yet to be booked. I took a lot of time to decide on my return ticket. As the days came closer, I got more and more tired, and decided to fly back, instead of taking a bus. There are just two airlines that fly direct from Mangalore to Bangalore - First, Jet Airways, who use ATR72s and one service on a B738, and Second, SpiceJet, who fly a Bombardier Dash-8 (Q400), twice daily. And, it turned out that SpiceJet was the cheapest, and the Q400 was an icing on the cake. A booking was made on the SpiceJet website, pocketing a small discount by using a coupon code.

June 28, 2015:
The examination paper work took a lot of time to finish. It took so long that I reached back in the Hotel only around 2.30pm. I badly wanted to rest for some time - but with no time left, I just got fresh and got set to head to the airport. I had booked a cab through the Ola Cabs App. For some reason, my phone's network switched off. I realised it only when I was intrigued on not receiving a confirmatory message from Ola. I restarted the phone to restore network connectivity, and the phone sprang up to life with no less than 15 missed call alerts, all from the same number! I checked up, and realised the calls were from Ola. I called back to realise that the cab was already outside my hotel.

I got ready in a hurry, and rushed down to the lobby. The cabbie was quick and we rushed to the airport. Mangalore resembled the typical western coast climate in every respect. The winding road up to the aiport felt steep to the car that I was travelling in. The soft-spoken driver dropped me at the departures gate around 1535hrs. The prepaid wallet on Ola makes things easy that you don't have to hunt for change or wait for the driver to return change. I casually observed the terminal before walking in. It seemed like there was some international departure in a few hours, looking at the crowd at the terminal (I was right). There were two layers of checking at the entry to the terminal. Mangalore airport has a common terminal building for both international and domestic departures - passengers are separated after check-in.
The terminal building
The SpiceJet Check-in counters
The Check-in area
SpiceJet check-in counter was located near the entrance itself. The counter had no crowd, and hence checking in took very little time. I got my boarding pass in no time (1543hrs). I was very hungry and decided to grab a quick bite from the terminal. I took a veg sandwich, and then proceeded for security check. There was a bit of confusion here - the signage wasn't very clear. I located the domestic security check area very soon. There were two frisking booths, while there was only one scanning machine. Thankfully, the crowd wasn't high, and hence things went through quickly. I was in the security hold at 1556hrs. My boarding pass said that my flight would leave from gate #2. The domestic part of the airport had only 2 gates - Gate #2 and Gate #4!! Gate #2 was on the lower level, while #4 was on the upper level, and had an aerobridge.
The boarding pass
The security Hold. This area might seat around 100 passengers at the max
The Flight Information Display
One Jet Airways B738 heading to Bangalore was boarding from the aerobridge. I had nothing to do but look blank at the apron waiting for my flight to be called. In the mean time, I could see thick clouds and heavy rain approaching the airport. In a few minutes, it started pouring down heavily. Some time later, VT-JFP of Jet Airways was ready to be pushed back, on its flight to Bangalore. They had to wait till the aircraft that would work my flight came in - it was VT-SUE that would work my flight. The little birdie came in at 1635hrs. Soon after that, VT-JFP was pushed back. Soon after VT-SUE came in, an announcement was made about the arrival of the flight - they added that the same aircraft would work back to Bangalore, and passengers were to wait for the next call for boarding.

Date of Journey: June 29, 2015
Flight No: SG-1032 || Seat: 11A
Aircraft type: Bombardier Dash-8 (Q400) || Regn: VT-SUE (Elaichi)
Sector: IXE-BLR
STD: 1715hrs, ATD: 1708hrs
STA: 1815hrs, ATA: 1816hrs

The first boarding call was made at 1642hrs. Since it was still drizzling, it took some time before passengers were actually allowed into the tarmac coach. I got into the first bus out of the terminal, which got me to the aircraft by around 1650hrs. Passengers had a tough time negotiating through puddles of water to get into the aircraft. As mentioned earlier, the aircraft was VT-SUE, a Bombardier De Havilland Canada DHC-8-400 2nd Generation, delivered to SpiceJet in 2011. The aircraft was named "Elaichi". I got into the aircraft by 1653hrs. The first impression - the interiors were a bit congested - I felt that the gangway was also a bit congested. I was in Seat #11A - which was right under the wings. I was shocked as I reached my seat - it was a windowless window seat! I had to strain to reach either the window ahead or the window behind to look out.
Thats my first Q400.. VT-SUE "Elaichi". Pic taken from the bus 
Boarding commenced. 
Boarding was completed at 1658hrs, and door was armed at 1703hrs. In the deck was Captain Anil Kumar, and First Officer Capt Singh. Jyothi and Akani took care of the cabin. The aircraft vibrated badly as it powered up. My co-passenger opted to shift forward - the emergency exit rows were empty, and they had to get someone to shift there due to regulatory reasons. So I had two seats for myself. The flight wasn't full, but all window seats were taken. While the aircraft was powering up, the safety demonstation was completed. As I waited for the aircraft to be "pushed back", the aircraft powered out of the parking and commenced taxi (1708hrs). This was my first experience with an aircraft powering out from its parking bay itself. We taxi'd slowly - we had to wait till a Air India Express B738, VT-AXZ, cleared the runway. We had a rolling take-off. We took off from Runway #06, at 1716hrs. I had fun watching the landing gear retract into its compartment.
Taxiing out...
Soon after takeoff..
There was a bit of turbulence as we climbed up - it was slightly cloudy. The seat-belt sign was turned off at 1723, only to be turned on again at 1725, when we hit a pocket of turbulence. The sign remained on for about 2 minutes, and then turned off. Buy-on-Board service began soon after the seat belt sign was turned off. Passengers with a pre-booked meal got their food first, followed by the buy-on-board service. They made it a point to announce that, this being a short sector, they might not be able to serve everyone, and hence please use the call button if you would like something specific. I had prebooked a vegetarian sandwich, and hence my order came quickly.
The box. Accompanied by a paper napkin, and a serving of tomato ketchup
Unboxed.. 
A write-up about the contents on the box.
The box of sandwich was accompanied by a glass of water. It was a coleslaw sandwich. The bread was soft, and the filling was very good. I bought a serving of "coconut water" as well - this product wasn't great, and I'd rather avoid it in future. While serving the bottle of coconut water, the attendant just asked if I had my birthday in July (I do), and then asked my date. She wished me a Happy birthday and continued her work. Seatbelt sign was back at around 1735, shortly followed by the announcement that we were preparing to land. The attendants came around to quickly clear the thrash. Shortly afterwards, the commander came on the PA, and announced that we were flying at FL230 at 630kmph, and we were descending already, with about 60kms to go for Bangalore.
The cabin...
Sometime past 1750hrs, when the airport was already in sight, the commander came on the PA System once again, and announced that we were in the queue for landing, and we were #6 in the queue - this meant we'd be landing slightly late. We entered into a holding pattern - an interesting pattern where we just went around the airport. It was cloudy for most of the time, and hence I couldn't figure how long did we go away from the airport. While we were holding, the attendant came around, and handed me a Birthday greeting card, and both the attendants came around to wish me a great year ahead - loved that simple thing of giving a greeting! Soon afterwards, they made a very honest announcement - "We know that as a passenger you have a lot of options. We thank you with all our hearts for choosing to fly SpiceJet today. We are delighted to serve you, and we wish to serve you again shortly". This very honest statement, and the very personalised touch given by the attendants to every single passenger made this flight very special to me.
The touchdown moment. (not a great pic)
Very soon the "crew to stations" call came from the deck, and we were on the landing finals. We touched down at 1810hrs, on Rwy27. It took us some time to get to our parking stand - we finally parked at 1816hrs, amid two other SpiceJet Q400s, the Air Pegasus ATR72 and a Jet Airways ATR72. Deboarding started quickly. I was out of the aircraft by 1820hrs. A Cobus of GlobeGroundIndia took us to the terminal, and I was out of the airport by 1830hrs.
Soon after getting off in Bengaluru...
The Q400 is a faster aircraft compared to the ATRs, but its very noisy and had a lot of vibrations. The cabin felt claustrophobic to me, and the gangway was too narrow. The fact that its faster ensures you get to your destination faster than an ATR, but the ride quality of the ATR is better than the Q400. I look forward to make another hop on the Q400 before I reach a conclusion.On the service front, the Flight attendants Jyothi & Akani deserve a special mention - they ensured every passenger got personal attention. The birthday card for me was an icing on the cake. I look forward to having such crew on more flights.
The birthday card I received..
Ratings:
Check-in: 5/5 (used on-line check in, and got my boarding pass at the check-in counter)
Cleanliness: 5/5 (the interiors were clean)
Punctuality: 5/5 (Left early, landed before time)
Crew: 5/5 (I'd want to give them more)
Catering: 5/5 (The sandwich was awesome)
Overall: 5/5 

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