The 6Eneo: The "almost missed" first flight on a neo!

I hadn't booked a ticket to return from Mumbai until a few days before my flight to Mumbai. We were confused on the return date - plans we had went for a toss, and we finally decided to return two days after our wedding reception. I opted to book through the IRCTC Air app, which offered very competitive fares plus very low convenience fee. There was IndiGo and Go offering similar departure times, with similar fares - I opted Indigo, with a faint hope of getting a neo. I checked in on line though the IndiGo website later. I couldn't add a meal to the booking since I had missed the 24 hour deadline for addition of meals. I was continuously tracking this flight for the few days before the flight, and found that flight was regularly irregular every single day - and a neo was scheduled in this rotation almost regularly! That was a mann mein laddoo moment - exactly when the patient wanted.

May 28, 2018:
It was very long and tiring day - had to drop my parents at the airport in the morning, then some odd works that TW had, all kept us busy till about 6 in the evening. Our flight was scheduled to depart at 2230hrs, which actually required us to start from my in-law's place in Kalyan by 1830hrs, at least! We missed the target, and it was almost 1930hrs by the time we got moving. It was well past 2000hrs by the time we got to the platform at Kalyan Railway Station - praying to get a fast train to Ghatkopar. We were too late to hire a cab - which might take much longer due to the traffic. Luck favoured us, and we got a fast train as soon as we reached the platform - we had a first class ticket which saved us the crowd and help us travel with the heavy bags we had. The train made very painful progress, crawling through the slow line all the way till Thane. Things got a little better as we left Mulund, dashing down to Ghatkopar.

It was a struggling carrying all the bags to the metro station. We somehow managed to find some place in the first train that was to depart from Ghatkopar - there was seat, but we managed some space to stand and keep our bags. The clock was ticking fast, I felt like I almost lost the battle, and badly feared I'd miss the flight. I had noticed by now that the flight was already rescheduled, and would now leave only at 2245hrs, and check-in closes by 2200hrs. It was 2130hrs by the time we got off the train at Western Express Highway metro station - a quick dash to find a vehicle that could get us to the airport. An autorickshaw driver agreed, and he dashed to the airport, getting us there by 2150hrs. We had to literally run to the airport - the security guy at the terminal (Terminal 1) entry looked bemused as I showed the ticket - we were past the check-in time mentioned on the ticket. Nevertheless, he did let us in.

Next stop was the IndiGo check-in counters - there was a long queue at the counter - there was no choice but to cut the queue - an IndiGo staffer quickly came to help as he saw us trying to cut the queue - he opened an queue for us, and directed us to a particular counter. The lady at the counter took us to another counter, who rushed with the check-in formalties since we were approaching the cut off time. Our boarding passes came out at 2155hrs - hardly 5 minutes since we got to the airport. I was relieved, and still remember that accomplished feeling that I got. I took a few moments to cool off, before we headed to security check.
Phew! A little relaxation!

Yes! I did it! 

Date of Journey: May 28, 2018
Airline: IndiGo
Flight No: 6E565 || Seat: 20A
Aircraft type: Airbus A320-271N || MSN: 7892 || Regn: VT-ITZ
Sector: BOM-BLR
STD: 2230hrs, ATD: 2318hrs
STA: 0020hrs, ATA: 0112hrs

We were done with security by 2200hrs - and moved to the security hold area. The departure time of our flight was already pushed to 2300hrs by now. The security hold seemed to be an IndiGo exclusive area. There were departures to Bengaluru and Kochi at this time, and both were by IndiGo. There was no sign of movement even as the clock ticked past 2215hrs. People were already getting restless. I was continuously tracking the incoming aircraft (VT-ITZ), which was then on its short finals. The first boarding call was made at 2231hrs - the aircraft had just taxied to its bay then! We remained seated till the boarding queue got small - we joined the tail end of the queue then. We got into the tarmac coach by 2240hrs. The bus got moving soon later, and got to the aircraft soon. But deboarding from the bus didn't commence, since people from the incoming sector were still deplaning!
Waiting for boarding to be called..

VT-ITZ - my first flight on an A320neo

Inside VT-ITZ..

They took some time to clean the aircraft, before they started boarding for our flight. We were inside the bird by 2254hrs. This was my first time inside an A320neo - the interiors seemed fresh, the AC was in full flow and it was foggy inside! TW opted for a middle seat this time - she saw how excited I was seeing the neo! Boarding was completed by 2258hrs, doors were armed by 2300hrs. Welcome announcements followed, and I got to know that it was Capt. Hemanand in command of the flight that day. Pushback was delayed until 2318hrs - safety demonstrations were completed in the mean time. Soon as we completed pushback, the engines were spooled up - they were silent, and sounded very different from the usual IAEs or CFMs!
A Sharklet after a very long time..

We started taxiing by 2323hrs, and we commenced our long ride towards the holding point for Runway 27. We got there by 2347hrs - we were in a long queue until then. We had to hold on for two aircrafts to land (one was an AI, couldn't identify the second one). We entered the active runway by 2350hrs, and were airborne by 2351hrs. TW was fast asleep by then, the lights remained dimmed for a while, and I too had a short nap. I did not notice when did the seatbelt signs go off - but woke up as the lights were turn back on. On board sales began soon - I was quite hungry since we didn't have time to take a break for food, with all the hurrying to get to the airport.
A lot of lessons learnt! I had almost missed this one!

The Hello 6E magazine had advertisements offering 20% off on all food purchases onboard, for payments made through MasterCard credit cards. I opted for this offer, and paid for our meal using my card - the total amount paid was less than what I'd have paid had I prebooked a meal!! I wanted to try a hot meal this time - but only Poha was available! I picked Poha and Girnar Masala tea (again), while TW picked up the Basil Pesto Tomato Sandwich (again) with Coffee. The water they used to prepare the poha didn't seem very hot - what I ended up with was a soggy sour tasting mass of flattened rice with occasional peanut presence. The Bhujia served with the Poha was a saving grace! TW's sandwich was good (LSG SkyChef  seemed to be experts in preparing sandwiches!). The coffee served was terrible (was the Nescafe instant premix), while the Masala Chai was good, except that it was not very hot.
My meal.. Poha with Masala Chai!

The poha! It was soggy, and not a great choice!

I remained awake till they completed cabin clearance - and then had a very nice sleep. I woke up just as the aircraft touched down on Runway 27 of Bengaluru's Kempegowda International Airport! This was perhaps the best landing I've had. We taxied to a contact stand by 0112hrs, and we got off the bird by 0120hrs. Our bags came by 0132hrs, and we were outside the airport in no time.

Ratings:
Boarding: 5/5 (Very organised)
Cleanliness: 5/5 (Very Clean)
Punctuality: 3.5/5 (Almost an hour behind schedule)
Crew: 5/5 (no-nonsense service)
Catering: 3.5/5 (Too few options, average food)
Overall: 4/5 (A good flight!)
Tracking from FR24

Summary:
Thirteen might not be a great number, but it turned quite lucky for me. My 13th flight with IndiGo turned out to be my first flight on an Airbus A320neo. The boarding process was swift - we were waiting outside the bird even as passengers from the inbound sector were deplaning, the IndiGo army cleared the aircraft soon, and we were in soon later. The crew were efficient and appeared very helpful. The food wasn't great - I am not a fan of these "Ready in 8 minutes" stuff in any case - but had no choices. May be some more choices, atleast prebooked would be a great idea. The bird was a little over 6 months old at the time of my travel - and she was really well cared for. Overall a great flight!

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