Mangalore to Bangalore on the Smiling Plane: Air Pegasus 116

I had booked a ticket to travel from Mangalore to Bangalore on Air Pegasus during one of the many sales they had towards end of 2015. I pocketed a ticket for a small figure more than a Volvo bus ticket for the same route. I was eager to try Air Pegasus once again, and this seemed like a good opportunity for that. The flight was on a Sunday, just past noon, reaching Bangalore around 1300hrs. I tried adding a meal to my booking, but the website wouldn't let me make any additions to the itinerary. The website doesn't offer web check-in either.

January 10, 2016:
My day started quite early - I hadn't slept much the previous night since I was running a very high fever. After a light breakfast (just enough to take my meds), I left my accomodation along with a good old bus fan friend, Mr Kadri, for a tour of Mangalore. He drove me around the city, and showed a lot of points of interest. Sadly, with fever still on, I couldn't really enjoy the trip. We spent some time spotting buses on the highway, and then he dropped me at the airport. On the way to the airport, I kept checking the status of the flight - I understood that my flight was rescheduled and would leave an hour late. I reached the airport sometime around 1150hrs. After thanking and bidding adieu to Kadri, I walked towards the terminal gate. The security at the gate informed that my flight was rescheduled and I had the option of waiting outside. An Air Pegasus employee standing there informed that my flight would depart only at 1420hrs, and the check-in wasn't open yet. I opted to wait inside the terminal, since I wanted some rest.
Air Pegasus counters: After check-in commenced
I took a seat right after entering the terminal. The Air Pegasus check-in counter was open, but wasn't accepting check-ins. Jet Airways also seemed to have rescheduled their flight since a lot of passengers were waiting for their counter to open. The other counters were closed. In the meantime, Air India announced departure of their flight to Mumbai. The check in counter opened just past 1215hrs. I got my check-in baggage screened, and headed to one of the two counters for Air Pegasus. The first thing that came to my notice was that they did manual check-ins, not computerised. They had pre-written boarding passes, with sequence numbers arranged in alphabetical order. They had a passenger manifest arranged in the same order, and an empty seat layout chart.
Hand-written boarding card
I was asked the option for my seat - I picked a window seat. I was given #2A. The loads seemed really light. A hand-written boarding pass was handed over to me. My check-in bags received a small tag, with a counterfoil of the tag stapled to my boarding pass. I passed security check and reached the security hold by around 1220hrs. As I reached the security hold, I saw the Air India A319 (VT-SCP) being pushed back. The airport went silent for almost an hour then. Jet Airways announced a delay for their Bangalore flight. The food court at the waiting area seemed quite busy. I was feeling quite sick and did not feel like having any food. I had a nice coffee from Coffee Day along with two Honey Oat cookies. The free wi-fi at the airport seemed to get disconnected every now and then - it did not show any timer or details about how long is the free access.
FIDS showing my flight to be rescheduled.The 9W flight just before mine also got rescheduled later.
I was hooked to FR24 on my phone to find out the next possible option. I understood that an Air India Express flight from Muscat would be next arrival. Some time around 1345, VT-AXN arrived from Muscat - the apron got busy all over again, only until they finished unloading all cargo from this aircraft. The Jetway was disconnected, and the aircraft remained stabled at the stand. I understood from FR24 that VT-APB would be carrying me to Bangalore. She landed in Mangalore sometime around 1405hrs. As the aircraft landed, ground staff came in, and started preparing for boarding formalities. The first boarding announcement was made at 1412hrs, and I was among the first to get through. A non-ac minibus owned by Air India's ground handling agency (not sure if it was AI-SATS or AIATSL) was all set to take us to the aircraft.
Screenshot of the tracking from FR24
Date of Journey: January 10, 2016
Flight No: OP116 || Seat: 2A
Aircraft type: ATR 72-500 (212A) || Regn: VT-APB
Sector: IXE-BLR
STD: 1220hrs, ATD: 1435hrs
STA: 1320hrs, ATA: 1537hrs

In the meantime, SpiceJet's VT-SZA arrived from Mumbai. We reached the aircraft sometime around 1415hrs, and boarding commenced a minute later. I was inside the aircraft by around 1422hrs. While boarding, I casually enquired the loads - it was just 37 out of 66! Boarding was completed by 1427hrs. Just as the boarding complete calls were made, the Captain came on the PA system and apologized for the delay. He attributed the delay to poor visibility in Bangalore delaying the earlier flights and thus affecting this departure. He sounded were jovial. In the deck were Capt. Dimitry and Capt Rajkumar. Neeraja and Alisha were taking care of the cabin. Doors were armed by 1435hrs. Safety demo began soon later. The bays used by turboprops at Mangalore are power-out bays, and hence there was no push back. We powered out of the bay at 1439hrs and commenced our long taxi. We entered the runway soon later - but the aircraft didn't stop. I thought we were having a rolling take off, but that wasn't the case. We taxi'd till the other end of the runway, and the turned around and lined up for take off. We finally took off from Rwy24 at 1445hrs.
The smiling plane parked at IXE Apron..
Just before boarding commenced
Soon after takeoff..
The initial flight was very turbulent. We flew straight to the sea, then turned around and flew towards Bangalore. The seat belt sign remained on for about 10 minutes or so. I was quite hungry by now, and wanted something to eat. The BoB cart started sales from the first row, and I was in the second. I asked for a veg sandwich - it was given in a small box with Taj-SATS printing on it. On unboxing, I was in for a shock (not a surprise) - the box had a nice sandwich, a muffin and a 250ml tetrapack serving of juice! The cost of one serving was just Rs. 170! This puts a lot of main-line carriers to shame - especially one LCC. The sandwich was very tasty - not the routine tomato and cheese sandwich, but a good coleslaw sandwich. The muffin was soft as well. I had asked for a serving of water, which accidentally spilled (the tray hadn't seated properly) - the FA quickly responded with sufficient paper napkin and she topped up the water glass once again before leaving. Really liked the service.
The filling meal!
I finished my meal very quickly. The FA came around and cleared the thrash soon after I finished. The capt came on the PA once again in-flight, and apologized again for the delay, along with quite a few information about the flight. Landing was announced at 1522hrs - the FAs came around to ensure that the cabin was ready for landing. We finally touched down on Rwy09 at 1533hrs. We parked at a very remote stand around 1537hrs. While were were about to park, another company ship, VT-APA was being pushed back for its departure to Hubli. I was out of the aircraft by 1543hrs. A Tarmac coach was already waiting for us. We were dropped at the terminal by 1551hrs - and very interestingly, our baggage was already on the carousel. I got my bag soon and I was out of the terminal by 1555hrs!
The customary "wing shot".. 
Ratings:
Check-in: 4.5/5 (Manual check-in. Does not leave a great impression. The staff were really efficient, though)
Cleanliness: 5/5 (the aircraft was in great shape - clean and well kept interiors)
Punctuality: 3/5 (Left late, reached late. Lack of advance intimation about delay)
Crew: 5/5 (Great service)
Catering: 5/5 (Awesome food. Very filling as well)
Overall: 4/5

Summary: 
This was my second flight with Air Pegasus, and the second one on VT-APB as well. I was quite impressed with their service last time, and the same happened this time. I wasn't happy about the delay - which affected both my flights with them. I had left them a feedback about adding a juice to their combo meal box - and I was really happy to see the feedback being taken. They certainly need to work around with delays and keep their passengers informed about delays. I am quite impressed with their "Truly South Indian" branding - but they need to get their act together. I did discount the first flight to start-up issues. I find they've improved compared to last time, but still need to do a lot more. I really hope they grow into a great "South Indian" airline, providing connectivity across the region. Looking forward to have another flight with them soon.

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