On the smiling Plane 114 - BLR to Chennai!

An airline that caught my fancy ever since it was announced was Air Pegasus. For some reason, the name struck a chord with me, and I awaited their first flight for a long time. The first pictures of their first aircraft attracted me even further - the aircraft featured a nice smiley on the nose! Another fact that attracted me was that they flew the ATR72 - and I love them for some reason. Air Pegasus took off in mid-April this year with one ATR72, that flew earlier for Kingfisher. Another aircraft joined their fleet last month (also ex-Kingfisher). The opportunity to fly Air Pegasus never came until they started flying to Chennai. I had been planning an outing to Chennai since a very long time, and this came as an opportunity. The catch being that they flew only three times a week, a late morning departure from Bangalore.
Thats the "Smiling Plane" :)
I finally booked for a Saturday flight from Bangalore. The flight leaves Bangalore at 1025hrs on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays. Booking was simple - except adding a Snack box, there were no add-on services. Seat Selection was not offered as well, neither did they provide web check-in. A few days before my trip, some disruptions began appearing on the Pegasus website - morning flights were regularly disrupted. With the pattern repeating day by day, I was sure my flight would be delayed as well. And I was not wrong. On the day before my journey, an email popped up informing me about the reschedule, followed by an SMS with the same information. The departure was pushed from 1025hrs to 1135hrs.

September 05, 2015:
I had a very late start to the day. I woke up quite late, and ended up not having time even for a breakfast. I had to rush with packing as well - and realised my camera's charger was missing! I did not have time to hunt where it was - but I had to just let it go and use the camera till its battery dies out. I left home sometime around 0900hrs - the airport is a good 48kms away from home. I was driving down to the airport and leaving my vehicle at the long term parking this time. Traffic was on the higher side and I had to step on the gas once on the highway. An accident on the highway slowed me down considerably. Somewhere on my way to the airport, I received a call from Air Pegasus asking if I was at the airport - the agent on phone confirmed that the flight is rescheduled and would depart only at 1125hrs. I reached the airport around 1015hrs - I spent some time taking photographs before entering the terminal.
Kempegowda International Airport!!
Two counters were open for Air Pegasus - there was no queue at the counter - just a couple of passengers ahead of me. Air Pegasus doesn't offer web check-in as of now - so had to do a check-in at the airport - I am doing this after a very long time. I requested for a seat at the front - and was given #3A. The agent manually wrote the new boarding time and handed over the pass to me along with the hand baggage tag. The check-in process was a bit slow - but a good experience except for the slow process. The airport was unusually empty at this time - most of the counters were closed, and there were hardly any souls at security check as well! Infact, they had shut down most queues and kept just a couple of them open - and they too were empty. Security check was a breeze, and I was in the security hold in under 15 minutes of reaching the airport - six minutes of which was lost at the check-in counter!
The Air Pegasus check-in counters..
My boarding pass - sorry, I lost it somewhere, and couldn't even get a decent pic :'(
The almost deserted KIA!
Thats the common departures announcement
I headed to my favorite spotting location, and found one Air Pegasus ATR72 (later identified as VT-APA) sunbathing at the far end of the apron. I was expecting this to be my bird, and kept an eye on the aircraft all time to see if there is any activity around. Both the E190s of Air Costa were in Bangalore at this time (one went to VTZ and other to HYD). IndiGos kept coming and going, while a SpiceJet B738 was busy catching up some sleep on the apron. I headed to the gate (#6) sometime around 1100hrs. I was quite surprised to see that the 4 bus gates in this area were also deserted! There were some passengers waiting near Gate #6 for the Pegasus flight to Chennai - thats it! Finding an empty corner to sit was not difficult, and I did just that! There were no Pegasus agents anywhere to be seen even as the clock ticked past 1115hrs.
The Air Costa E-190 family at BLR!
Date of Journey: September 05, 2015
Flight No: OP114 || Seat: 3A
Aircraft type: ATR72-500 (212A) || Regn: VT-APB
Sector: BLR-MAA
STD: 1025hrs, ATD: 1202hrs
STA: 1125hrs, ATA: 1308hrs
Waiting for boarding to begin..
An agent appeared sometime around 1120hrs - but boarding was not called. On being asked, he said the aircraft is late by a few minutes and boarding would start once we were ready. Boarding was finally called sometime around 1125hrs - we were all put into a bus. The bus did not get moving for quite some time. The plot was now clear - the aircraft for us hadn't even landed! It had to come in from Trivandrum, and would be turned around to Chennai!! Some time around 1138hrs, a smiling plane lands and rushes towards the apron. Around the same time, the bus started crawling towards our stand. There was another bus ahead of us, which would take the passengers from the inbound sector. We were at the stand by 1139hrs - and a long wait started. In the meantime, the passengers of the inbound flight alighted, and housekeeping staff got to cleaning the aircraft.
Waiting inside the bus, as pax from the inbound sector walk off..
Thats the bus that brought us to Alpha Papa Bravo
It was VT-APB that would ferry me to Bangalore. Alpha Papa Bravo is an ATR72 (cn #762) that was originally delivered to Kingfisher Airlines in November 2007. The aircraft was repossessed when the airline shut owing to their financial distress. The aircraft came back to India as VT-APB in July 2015. The aircraft was about 8 years old, and was configured as 66Y. The aircraft looked awesome with the smiley on its nose, and the fully white fuselage.
Thats VT-APB..
Getting into VT-APB.. I love the smileys!
We were allowed to get off the bus at 1150hrs - an orderly queue formed soon, and passengers got into the aircraft soon. I remained at the end of the queue, and I got into the aircraft by 1154hrs. The first impression on getting into the aircraft was - wow! It was so clean! The upholstery was very good - soft and comfortable. The seats were in great shape. There were no visible signs of damage from its long days of sunbathing after it was repossessed. Boarding was completed by 1156 and doors were armed by 1202hrs. It wasn't a full flight - but the loads were certainly in the 60s range. My co-passenger seat was empty though. We were pushed back at 1204hrs. In command was Capt Dimitry - I couldn't get the name of the First officer. We commenced taxi at 1208hrs, and were airborne from Rwy27 at 1212hrs. A nice climb to the west, followed by a series of left banks to finally align towards Chennai. Seat belt signs went off at 1218hrs. Soon after the seatbelt signs were switched off, the trolley was brought out and a quick buy-on-board service was conducted.
Waiting to take off.. a Jet Airways ATR just came in..
Overflying Bengaluru Airport..
I had prebooked a snack box, and I was informed that I would be served shortly. In the meantime, we over flew Bangalore airport and made swift progress towards Chennai. My snack box came soon afterwards. The box was fairly big, and had TajSATS printed on it. The box was warm - and I knew i had to expect something hot inside! I opened the box to find a nicely packed aluminum disposable container, a small serving of a dessert and plastic cutlery. I opened the aluminum container to find two piping hot vegetable cutlets, a vegetable puff and a medu vada. The dessert was a pudding made of semolina with a very mild rose flavour. The food tasted awesome, and served a perfect brunch for me. It was filling, properly heated and well served. I felt they could've added a juice or probably atleast a serving of water.
The snack box..
Inside the box..
Thats the fully unpacked version.. 
The seatbelt sign was back on at 1246hrs. In the meantime, we turned into some really dense clouds - really dense ones. The aircraft shook violently as we passed through the clouds. The first officer came on the PA and apologised for the delay, while adding information about the climate in Chennai and some other miscellaneous information about the flight. We finally touched down on Rwy07 at 1303hrs. It was a fairly long taxi to get to the apron, and we finally parked at Stand #48 at 1308hrs. It took sometime for deboarding to begin, and I wanted to be the last to get off. I was finally off the aircraft at 1312hrs, into a waiting AI-SATS tarmac coach. We had to wait for quite some time since an old lady required assistance to get off the aircraft, and the ground staff took some time to get her off the aircraft. We were finally dropped at the terminal by 1321hrs, and I got my bags by 1328hrs.
Welcome to Chennai!!
Thats how VT-APB looked from inside..
The AI-SATS bus that took us to the terminal in Chennai..
To wind up - Air Pegasus did a great job with the flight. I do not admire being delayed, and did not really like the way they handled the delay as well. Instead of putting passengers on the bus and they letting us to sunbath on the tarmac, they could've held on boarding till the aircraft landed. What I admired was that they ensured the aircraft was cleaned before it was turned around. The bird came in at 1138, was cleaned properly, seatbelts properly arranged and we took off again at 1202hrs (time the doors were armed) - that is 24 minutes! The aircraft was in great shape as well. The flight attendants were very responsive, and ensured that every passenger was served. The snack box was served at the right temperature, and the contents were just awesome! I look forward to trying Air Pegasus once again to see if the service remains consistent. Being a new airline, they surely are facing problems with crew availability, and I do expect their services to be impacted by the same.

Ratings:
Check-in: 4.5/5 (Slow)
Cleanliness: 5/5 (the aircraft was in great shape - clean and well kept interiors)
Punctuality: 2.5/5 (Delayed!)
Crew: 5/5 (Awesome service!)
Catering: 5/5 (Great food)
Overall: 3.5/5

Summary: The airline is still maturing and is suffering from teething problems. I am sure they will have a great future if they clear the issues and set procedures right! Hope to see a great airline that is true to its South Indian's genes! Happiness 'shall' be in the air! 

Comments

Dear Mr. Sankar,

Greetings from Air Pegasus.

My name is Ranjit Adyanthaya and I head the In-flight experience, F & B and Ancillary revenue team. It is heartwarming to see one of our guests taking the time out to pen down about us. Your blog made us feel that you are as excited about our smiling planes as much as we are in love with them.

We are glad you liked the in flight experience. Your feedback about the juice has been taken and a juice is part of the combo box now. As mentioned by you we do have teething problems but, we are working hard and will definitely resolve all of them. Also a change in the in-flight experience is underway and we promise to WOW you on your next flight.

Do feel free to connect to us at feedback@airpegasus.in, if need be feel free to contact me on +91 9886150770.

Look forward to having you on board with us again.

Warm Regards,

Ranjit Adyanthaya

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