Red, Hot, and a little too spicy: SpiceJet from BLR to COK

It was my cousin sister's marriage. I was in the fray for tickets quite late, and that being the weekend before Kerala's festival - Onam, meant the crowd was quite heavy. The marriage was on a Sunday, and I opted to travel on Saturday evening. Among the various evening options available was SpiceJet, which resumed flying in the Bangalore-Kochi sector after six months, in July. The booking was made through my credit card issuer's website, which was running a promotion. Like everytime, I checked on the airline's website and confirmed the booking. The ticket was booked over two months in advance. This particular flight started flying on July 01, 2015 - and holds a rare distinction of never having been on time! The delays kept continuing - and always ranged between 20 minutes to as high as 90 minutes. I had no expectations of my flight being on time either. Sometime in between, the flight got rescheduled as well - and got pushed back from 1730hrs to 1820hrs.

August 22, 2015:
It was election day in Bangalore - but we were working. Roads were deserted and I could get to Hebbal very quickly from office. I got a bus soon after reaching Hebbal as well, and I reached the airport by around 1545hrs - I had over 2 hours to go for my flight. I was very hungry, and hence headed to an eatery on the kerbside. Bangalore airport has marvellous options for hungry travellers - its got a couple of fast food joints, some restaurants - including an Italian outlet, and some beverage joints. After a quick snack, washed down with some cold beverage, I decided to head into the airport. The time now was 1615hrs - just over two hours to go for my flight.
The boards at entrance.. 
I was directed to the random scanning line by the security personnel at the entrance. After scanning, I headed straight to the SpiceJet check-in counters - this place was a mess. There were none to manage the queue - people just mobbed the counters. The agents were indifferent to the crowd either - they took their sweet time to check-in passengers. I had checked-in online, but hadn't taken a print out - I got my boarding pass by 1630hrs, and reconfirmed the departure time - the agent said the flight is on time, and would be boarding from Gate #8C. Security check was deserted, but the checking was a bit slow - every other bag was being pulled up for re-scanning. I got into the security hold by 1640hrs.
The messy check-in counters of SpiceJet

My boarding pass..
Security Check...
I headed to the waiting area around Gate #1 - as usual. The apron was quite busy - lots of departure throughout the time. The stars to got my attention was VT-ABB (the 20 year old ATR42 of Air India Regional) and VT-APB (Air Pegasus' latest ATR-72 - although its their latest, the bird is almost 8 years old now). There was a steady stream of Jet Airways ATRs and SpiceJet Q400s. I kept tracking my flight on FlightRadar24 through the time. My flight (SG432) flies from Vishakhapatnam to Kochi via Bengaluru. It was VT-SGH working the flight - the bird hadn't even taken off from Vizag as the clock ticked past 1700hrs. I was sure of my flight getting late now. There were no official information from SpiceJet on this - but even as the boarding time of 1750hrs went past. The aircraft hadn't even landed. The FIDS silently updated the status to "Delayed" and the ETD was now put at 1840hrs.
The busy apron - three of my favorite aircrafts.. the ATR!
The FIDS now updated to reflect delay of my flight..
Soon later, I saw that VT-SGH was on its finals, and she touched down at 1812hrs - with just 8 minutes to go for the scheduled departure. I headed towards the gate (#8C) soon after the aircraft came - I was in for some shock - the gate area was crowded - crowded like a government bus station or a typical Mumbai suburban station. Some time later, I saw people mobbing around one place - it later turned out that Malayalam movie actor Sreenivasan was flying on the same flight and people were mobbing him for a Selfie. The incoming aircraft did not seem to be full - but it emptied out in Bangalore. Boarding was called at 1833hrs - no row-wise boarding. It was a mess - a long "Y" forked queue formed, which merges just before the gate. I remained seated till the queue became short - I finally got into the aircraft at 1844hrs - four minutes past the re-scheduled departure time.
Thats VT-SGH coming in..
VT-SGH at the gate..
Thats Gate 8C.. 
The crowd at the gate..
Date of Journey: August 22, 2015
Flight No: SG432 || Seat: 21F
Aircraft type: Boeing 737-800 || Regn: VT-SGH "Turmeric"
Sector: BLR-COK
STD: 1820hrs, ATD: 1852hrs
STA: 1915hrs, ATA: 1952hrs

I was inside a Boeing after almost 7 months. I got to my seat (#21F) in about three minutes after getting into the aircraft. Boarding was completed at 1849hrs and doors were armed at 1851hrs. We were pushed back immediately after, at 1852hrs. Soon after pushback, the welcome announcements and security demonstration began. In the deck were Capt. Gautham and Capt Siddharth, while Roopesh, Arushi, Ekta and Priyanka were in the cabin. We commenced taxi at 1856hrs. Although the seats were comfortable, the legroom was right. The only thing I liked was the larger windows. It was a fairly long taxi. We were airborne from Rwy27 at 1902hrs - a quick climb and then sharp banking to finally align on a southward path. The seatbelt went off once at 1906hrs, then came back on again. We were flying amidst lots of clouds and had a very bumpy ride.
Before push-back from BLR..
The cabin lead came on the PA and announced that they would not be conducting a BoB service due to the short flying time - all passengers who had pre-reserved their meal would receive their Sandwiches, while the other passengers could use the call button to buy anything. I had pre-reserved a "meal" - I got my Sandwich soon. It was a Tomato, Cucumber and Cheese Club Sandwich in Marble Bread (Description from the SpiceJet website). The sandwich was great - the bread was soft and the filling was good. The seatbelt sign remained on for most of the time - the ride remained bumpy as well. The First officer came on the PA sometime during the flight and informed that we'd be having a bumpy landing as well since it was cloudy and there was a bit of winds at Kochi, as well.
IFE: Spice Route Magazine..
The feedback from my last flight featured in this issue of SpiceRoute
The meal..
Landing was announced at 1930hrs - by now, the towns below were visible. It was still cloudy and we were jumping around as we slowly aligned to the landing path. I felt we were too high even when as we passed the airport perimeter. It was windy and we swayed as we descended - then a heavy thud as we touched down on Rwy 27 at 1948hrs. It was not a "touch down" - but a real thud down. That was followed by some real hard braking - not really a comfortable landing. We taxi'd very slow and reached the stand by 1952hrs - exactly one hour after push back from Bangalore. Since it was a full flight, getting off the aircraft was also messy - people crowded the aisle in no time, that I decided to remain seated for as long as possible. I was out of the aircraft at 1958hrs - as the last passenger to get out from the rear exit. As I got off, I understood that the cabin crew changes at COK, before the aircraft flies out to Mumbai. Since I did not have any check-in baggage, I literally rushed out of the airport to get a taxi before the queue sets in - I had to succumb to the taxi lobby at CIAL since it was too late, and I had to reach the marriage venue for dinner.
After getting off at COK...
Tracking of my flight from FR24..
Overall an eminently forgettable flight - it was delayed as usual. Messy check-in experience, and lack of information in the airport. Even messier boarding. The service as such was good - calls were quickly answered. The FAs gave the personal touch to their service - small things like helping out passengers with the reading lamp when they saw someone reading, or speaking very gently about keeping their backrests upright or closing the tray tables.

Ratings:
Check-in: 2.5/5 (Messy check-in counters)
Cleanliness: 5/5 (the aircraft was in great shape - clean and well kept interiors)
Punctuality: 2/5 (Late - this flight has never been on time!)
Crew: 5/5 (Awesome service!)
Catering: 4.5/5 (Good food)
Overall: 3.5/5

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