iFly 103: Pune to Bengaluru

I didn't have too many requirements. I had to attend the conference, make a quick visit to Shirdi, and fly back home at convenience. I selected the day for my Shirdi visit based on flight availability, and of course, the budget. After a lot of deliberations, considerations and contemplations, I finalised the visit to Shirdi on a Monday. Flights for Monday evening were fairly cheap, and Indigo's new series of late night flights were adding to the convenience. I booked the first of the two late night departure from Pune - this gave me ample time to travel from Shirdi and connect to my flight.

October 03, 2016:
It was 1952hrs when I got off the Volvo from Shirdi. The bus driver dropped me a little after Viman Nagar (GMaps says the place is called Shastri nagar chowk). It was a confusing signal - I failed to spot a pedestian crossing and ended up jaywalking across in typical Indian style. Just as I began my attempt to cross, the airport bus went past the other side of the road. I wanted to try them - but the next bus was only after an hour! I tried hunting for autos, but no empty autos turned up. I tried the app based taxis, but none were available - can't blame, it was a Monday evening! I slowly walked in the direction of the airport - while refreshing the apps and checking for cabs. A little in to the walk, and empty auto turned up, who dropped me at the airport by about 2005hrs.

The entry to the terminal was quite free - just a minor delay due to someone not having his identity card in original. I headed to the baggage scanners - but they asked me to wait for a while since the check-in for my flight wasn't open yet. I utilized this opportunity to rearrange my bags a bit, so that the check-in bag was a little lighter. I got my bag scanned by 2020hrs and walked towards Check-in. I met someone known at the airport and spent some time chatting. Check-in was quite deserted then. I checked in by 2034hrs and headed to security check. My phone was running low on battery, and I rather focused on getting to a charging point as quick as possible - and quite amusingly. security check was quick, and I got into the security hold by 2038hrs.
The boarding card..
We were boarding from the gate on the lower floor itself, and this saved passengers from the trouble of having to go up, and then walk down in case of non-jetway boarding. I was successful in finding a seat near a working power plug - so the next few minutes were spent charging the phone. In the meantime, I tuned in to FR24 to find where the inbound bird was - she was on her way from Bengaluru already then. I was quite hungry already and wanted to have something for my dinner - I had pre-ordered a meal on the flight and thought of taking something light. Pune is quite a dumb airport when it comes to eateries or shopping. And, like every AAI run airport, stuff are terribly overpriced as well. I had to take something, and just headed to the upper level to have something light. When I was having my snack, the IndiGirl started announcing the arrival of the aircraft from Bengaluru (2138hrs), and added that the same aircraft would operate back as 6E103 to Bengaluru - needless to say, a loonngg queue had already formed!
VT-INZ as she came down to PNQ for me..
Date of Journey: September 30, 2016
Flight No: 6E103 || Seat: 21A
Aircraft type: Airbus A320-232 || Regn: VT-INZ
Sector: PNQ-BLR
STD: 2215hrs, ATD: 2210hrs
STA: 2340hrs, ATA: 2338hrs

The first boarding call was made at 2143hrs - a long queue snaked around the seating area already. I did not bother joining the queue until the line became short. I remained seated until about 2150hrs - I joined the tail end of the line as the length shortened. The agent at the gate kept requesting passengers to display their baggage tags to the security personnel - but Indian habits die hard, and nobody really bothered and the queue moved really slow. The apron was really busy at this time - no less than 4 aircrafts jostled for space, and two more were inbound! I got into the aircraft by 2155hrs - to a warm welcome by Nichole, who was at the aft entry. I was on board a 7.4 year old Airbus A320 delivered mint-fresh to IndiGo in 2009, and registered VT-INZ. She was still fresh inside - amazing maintenance, I must admit. Getting to my seat was easy, since my co-passengers were yet to be seated. Boarding was completed by 2201hrs - the pre-departure paper works took some more time. The doors were armed at 2210hrs and we were pushed back at 2211hrs.

In the deck were two senior captains - Capt Thomas and Capt Vikram, while the cabin crew were Vimala (chief), Della, Sharon and Nichole. While Vimala was quite hurried and she spoke as if the time she took to make announcements were payable, the rest of the cabin crew did their job with a nice smile and did have the warmth of service. We remained put on the apron for some more time - while the safety demonstration was completed. We taxied out at 2216hrs - it was a long taxi for us, as we headed towards Runway 28. It took us 6 minutes to get to the holding point of Rwy28. We didn't have to hold - directly turned on to the active. We were airborne at 2223hrs. We took off into low flying clouds, towards the west, before turning South East. The seatbelt signs were turned off by 2226hrs. Another round of rushed commentary by Vimala followed, and the meal carts were pulled out.
Thats the stub on my boarding card, that entitles me to select one food item and a beverage of my choice.. 
I was quite confused if I should try their hot meals - ready in 8 minutes stuff, or stick to the tried and tested sub. While checking the menu, I found some new additions - including a tortilla wrap, oats products, some cookies among others. Since I wasn't confident enough to try a hot in 8 minute product, I chose the tortilla wrap. I wanted to try a particular beverage listed on the menu - but it wasn't available, and I ended up taking an Aamras. The tortilla wrap was called - Paneer Khurchan in soft spinach tortilla wrap - it had a rich paneer (cottage cheese) and onion-bell pepper filling prepared in Mayonnaise in a spinach coloured wheat based tortilla wrap. The wrap was slightly soggy - could be due to the storage conditions - but tasted really awesome. Details of the manufacturer mentioned on the label made it all clear - this was produced by Taj-SATS, which is beyond doubt, the best air kitchens in India.
The "meal" combo..
The tortilla wrap..
I enjoyed the meal - the wrap had a whole lot of paneer - atleast one for every bite. This meal was perhaps quite value for money. The Aamras was from Paper Boat - the standard stuff. Went quite well with the slightly hot wrap. I enjoyed a meal on IndiGo the first time ever. The FAs did a great job by being low on their voices as they hawked their products on board. There were absolutely no announcements during the flight (except the seatbelt sign and landing announcements). We ran into a fairly severe turbulence as we were approaching Bengaluru - the seatbelt sign came on (2319hrs) a couple of minutes after we hit the turbulence. A quick thrash clearance run was made after that, and the cabin was secured for landing. The crew to stations call came in by 2325hrs - we were still about to align to the ILS path then. We landed at 2334hrs - I really couldn't recognise the moment we touched down - it was perhaps the smoothest landing I've had ever. The reversers were deployed even as the nose was yet to touch down followed by a very soft braking. We docked at a contact stand by 2338hrs.
We parked next to this "new" bird for AirAsia - VT-PNQ at BLR ;)
The aircraft was to continue to Trivandrum. Quite unusually, only the forward exit was used. I've often seen IndiGo using both exits even when they are at contact stands - probably, because we were before time, they didn't bother about the aft exits. People mobbed the aisle as if they were running for an olympic gold - I stayed on my seat for quite some more time. I got off the aircraft only by 2349hrs - among the last to get off the aircraft. I found a few passengers remaining in the aircraft, continuing to Trivandrum. IndiGo security staff checked boarding cards of passengers deplaning there to ensure that only people ticketed to Bangalore got off here. I got my bag by 2354hrs and was out of the airport in another minute on so. It was then a long walk to the Uber Zone to get my cab to go home.

Ratings:
Check-in: 5/5 (Did Online Check-in. Good counter experience)
Cleanliness: 5/5 (Aircraft was clean)
Punctuality: 5/5 (Before time at both ends)
Crew: 5/5 (Awesome crew, by previous IndiGo experiences)
Catering: 4.85/5 (Great food, fairly good choices as well)
Overall: 4.95/5 (I really enjoyed this one)

Summary:
A great flight with IndiGo this time. I really appreciate the crew on iFly 103 for their great job that day. They put out some great service - not the usual mechanical IndiGo service. They had the smile and the warmth in service. The leading lady was a bit too hurried - she rushed through announcements, service and even thrash clearance. The best landing I've ever had - all thanks to the senior crew up at the front office. Great flight :)

Comments

Kunal Tendulkar said…
New Pune International Airport is under construction and will have much more facilities than lohegaon airport.
Binai K Sankar said…
Kunal,
"Under construction" would be a wrong word here. Its under "consideration". Work is far from being called "under construction". And Yes, Pune desperately needs a new airport - the present one is far too small for a city like Pune.
Kunal Tendulkar said…
Yes,its under consideration but after conducting preliminary surveys and land allotments,construction will start soon.

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