Flying 'Smart' from Bom-Bay to Bangalore..

The reunion was initially planned to happen in the evening. Hence, it was important that I pick the last flight of the day from Mumbai to Bengaluru. It was also important that the flight had to be within my budget. The last flight was selling at exhorbitant rates, while the one before that had somewhat sane fares. It all finally boiled down to a tight competition between Jet Airways and two departures of Go Air. The flights were at 2100, 2125 and 2145hrs - I picked the last among them. That was Go Air. Now, that meant another opportunity to sample Go Air as well. My only experience with them was in November (read here) - and that was a no-nonsense experience. I was surely looking forward to try them again.

I booked through their site, and pocketed a small cashback for using the services of a third party website as well. Surprisingly, Go Air did not charge for seat selection (except he "preferred seats" at the front) - I opted for #10A while booking. A few days later, I decided to add a Veg Combo Box to the booking as well. I checked in the previous night as well.

July 19, 2015:
The reunion was a grand bash - the time just flew by, and we never realized that we spent close to 6hrs together. By the time I got back to my hotel room, it was 1900hrs. As usual, I did not realize that I was running late - it was 2025 hrs by the time I checked out of my room. I rushed to the reception - sensing my urgency, the lady at the desk first called up the driver of the airport transfer cab and asked him to hurry up, and then went about the billing process. The cab was still on its way from the Airport, and it was 2045hrs by the time it reached the hotel. He confirmed my flight timings and the terminal before he stepped on the gas. I was dropped at Mumbai Airport's Terminal 1A at 2055hrs - exactly 5 minutes to go for closure of the check-in gate. There was a long queue at the entrance to the terminal, and a rude girl with her mom cut across the queue as well. The lady picked up a quarrel with the CISF guard for "checking the documents too slow". The guard kept mumbling as he verified my documents - but that Thank You from my side evoked a nice beautiful smile from him.

I had to rush to the check-in counter now. Terminal 1A handles Go Air and Air India only - and hence, the terminal wasn't very crowded. There was fairly good rush at the check-in counter - just as I reached the counter, staff were calling out for passengers to Bengaluru - we were directed to two dedicated counters for check-in. The agent at the check-in counter verified my identity proof and printed out my boarding pass, and checked in my baggage (2059hrs). I rushed to security check now - only one baggage scanner was functional, and there was a fairly long queue for the same. The scanner was quite quick and hence did not cause much of a delay. Two frisking booths were open, and hence I could finish security check by 2103hrs.
The boarding pass..
The FIDS..
I found the security check very disordered - there were no tokens for the tray that takes the valuables. There was no table for you to repack your hand baggage after scanning as well. There was another CISF checking after security check - the guard here verified if there as a security stamp on the boarding pass, as well as the hand baggage tag. He was also directing passenger towards their respective gates. On looking at my boarding pass (Gate #A16), he said, "aapko dho baar neeche jaana padega" (loosely translated to, 'you'd have to go down two floors'). Yes - this particular gate was on the lowest level. I was a bit happy with that - I somehow like taking the bus to the aircraft than getting through a Jetway - the simple pleasure of seeing the apron while going to the aircraft, and also seeing the aircraft in its entirety while boarding.
On my way to A16..
The area had mostly shut for the day..
Date of Journey: July 19, 2015
Flight No: G8-325 || Seat: 10A
Aircraft type: Airbus 320-200 || Regn: VT-WAM
Sector: BOM-BLR
STD: 2145hrs, ATD: 2141hrs
STA: 2330hrs, ATA: 2336hrs

As I reached the gate, I was quite shocked to see that boarding had already commenced, and there was a very long queue already! I waited for sometime, and then joined the queue. I got into the tarmac coach by 2111hrs. With just around 20 minutes, this was surely my shortest wait at an airport terminal! The rickety and noisy bus got crawling by 2116 hrs - the bus was packed to the brim. The bus ran straight till the end of the terminal building, then took a U turn and traced its way back. The aircraft was actually parked right next to the gate where we boarded the bus! VT-WAM, an Airbus A320-200 delivered to Go Air in August 2010, would be ferrying me to Bangalore. This was to be my first non-sharklet A320 trip in a long time as well.
Boarding in progress...
In the crowded bus to the aircraft...
There was a long queue to get into the aircraft as well - I was stuck on the stairs for quite some time. I got into the aircraft at 2122hrs. People were blocking the aisle as they stowed their baggage on to the overhead bins. The crew kept playing the "please step aside" message over and again. The attendants were seen helping passengers with the hand baggage as well. The seats wore a grey coloured fabric upholstery - the same colour as the dress for the attendants. Interestingly, most of the middle seats were empty on the flight. The last bus came with passengers for these middle seats. Boarding was completed at 2133hrs. Doors were armed at 2135hrs. The welcome messages started pouring in by now. Capt Rajiv Gaur and Capt Bhavin were in the deck, while Dava, Sumit, Anjali and Sandra handled the cabin. The captain came on the PA system and briefed passengers about the flight. We were pushed back at 2141hrs, and then pulled a bit forward. The engines started up even as we were moving forward - the engines made beautiful vortexes below as it powered up. We started Taxiing at 2146hrs. It was a long taxi, as we cut across the long domestic apron, and then roamed around the international apron to join the takeoff queue.
Getting into VT-WAM..
The last bus with passengers...
Taxiing...
I could see an IndiGo ahead of us. We had a long wait near the runway. We turned on to Rwy27 at 2205hrs. The engines powered up almost simulataneously as we began the take-off roll - we were finally airborne at 2206hrs. I was flying out of Mumbai in the dark for the first time - the beautiful city looked resplendent with the lights thrown all around, and the Queen's Necklace taking the cake. We did a sharp left bank, and flew parallel to the city - but the clouds obscured my view for most of the time. The seatbelt signs were turned off at 2211hrs - the cabin lights remained dim, though. Buy-on-board service started soon afterwards. I received my Combo Meal box very soon. The box is served along with a small packet of air.. err! Lays Chips. I was too eager to open the box - inside the box was a Sandwich, a 200ml serving of fruit juice and a piece of marble cake. I asked for a serving of water as well - I feel that should be made without being asked for.
Taking off from Mumbai.. thats the city below...
The Combo meal... and the packet of air.. sorry.. Lays chips!
Inside the box..
I was too hungry since I hadn't taken my Dinner. The sandwich was very soft, and contained a paneer filling. The sauce was perfect on spices and flavour, while the paneer was shredded into small pieces and was very soft. The juice - an brand called "Rush" owned by Coffee Day - was great as well. The Marble cake deserves special mention - it was soft and moist. The sweetness was perfect as well. The Meal combo was quite unlike the bigger "go" sister. I finished my dinner quite quickly - I was sleepy and tired after the long day. I tried remaining awake by reading the Go Air Magazine - there were some good writeups. I couldn't continue for long - and hence decided to doze off for sometime. My co-passenger was busy snoring and did not quite let me sleep.
Tracking my flight on FR24..
I fell asleep sometime in between - and woke up just when the landing announcements came. It was 2304hrs now. The attendant came around and cleared the trash, and checked if the cabin was ready for landing. I dozed off again - this was a very shallow nap. We were already on the finals to land at Bengaluru by now. We touched down at 2330hrs on Rwy27 in Bengaluru. We parked at a remote bay at around 2336hrs. I was quite surprised to see us at a remote bay, since I've mostly seen Go Air only at the jetways. I remained seated till all the people battled their way out of the aircraft - I was out at 2342hrs. I got into the last bus to the terminal, which got me to the terminal by 2353hrs. Interestingly, there was on Air Costa E170 at the jetway - it just came in from Vijayawada. I am sure that was a badly delayed flight - since once of their aircrafts was parked in Bengaluru from the previous day. Baggage was being delivered on Belt #6. Belt 5 & 6 are located inside a glass enclosure - which could be converted to an international section when required. Interestingly, all the 6 bays in Domestic was busy at this time - the baggage area was packed to the core now. People jostled around as usual - and like everytime, my baggage came quickly! I was out of the airport with a minute to spare for midnight.
The parking stands at Bengaluru are dominated by.. you know who... 
Thats VT-WAM after ferrying me to Bengaluru...
Epilogue: This was my second flight with Go Air. The service is no-nonsense - has far fewer announcements compared to the other "Go" Sister. The cabin lights were dimmed and was in perfect situation for people to sleep a bit. The interiors were clean. The seat pocket at my seat was damaged, and was dangling badly. The maintenance wasn't perfect - speaking in strict sense. The service was good - there was only one round of service though. The crew were no-where to be seen after serving order. They came around again only when the landing announcements were made. This smaller "Go" Sister has been quite sluggish in expanding - being stagnant doesn't help a lot. I hope they expand soon. Hope to be served by Go Air again!

Ratings:
Check-in: 5/5 (used on-line check in, and got my boarding pass at the check-in counter)
Cleanliness: 4/5 (the interiors were clean - but maintenance needs to buckle up)
Punctuality: 5/5 (Took off late, landed on time)
Crew: 4/5 (Service could've been better)
Catering: 5/5 (Food was really good)
Overall: 4.5/5 

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