An Air India Airbus A320 in flight.
aeroprints.com, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Trip Report: Mumbai to Bengaluru with Air India

MUMBAI – Soon after I had heard the news about privatisation of Air India, I definitely wanted to give them a try.

To be honest, I did not expect any drastic change in their service or staff, as it definitely will need years to mend things. I had always observed that Air India never used to price aggressively.

For example, let’s say an XYZ low-cost carrier (LCC) is charging Rs.2500 on BOM-BLR sector – then every airline starts to either match that fare or attempt to charge slightly less.

In the case of a full-service carrier, they usually try to price in a premium of Rs 1000 or so above the airfare of that LCC, but Air India used to always be the most expensive (most of the time) and for the service they provided, it was not justified at all.

But this changed right after the privatisation, and Air India has now started to price aggressively to compete with the LCC which hold a huge market share in India. When I found a good deal on Air India for BOM-BLR sector I decided to give it a try.

Air India – Mumbai to Bengaluru


Flight Details:
  • Flight Number – AI 641 (BOM-BLR)
  • Departure Airport – Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (Mumbai)
  • Arrival Airport – Kempegowda International Airport (Bengaluru)
  • Registration – VT-EXE, 7.2 Years old during the time of flight.
  • Aircraft Type –Airbus A320

Pre-Check-in Experience


Air India has a decent UI for its app, cannot say it is one of the most user-friendly applications out there but yes it gets the work done.

Few things have changed after the airline was privatised by the Government of India, still the app isn’t much useful as you can only book tickets, web check-in and cancel ticket and for anything apart from this one must use their website. 

I did not face any issues and I was able to check-in with a breeze on their application.

Arrival at Mumbai Airport


I always arrive way before time at T2 Airport in Mumbai, the view of the tarmac from the food court at this airport always makes me excited. T2 of Mumbai has to be one of the most beautiful airports in the country

Check-in


Air India has most no. of check-in counter than any other airline at T2, this is probably because Air India operates both Domestic & International flights from the same airport. I had reached airport almost 5 hours before my flight and there wasn’t much of a crowd at the counter, so I was able to quickly drop my luggage (Note: Air India is the only domestic airline which allows 25KG of free check-in baggage.)

Security Check at Mumbai Airport


Security check at Mumbai airport has always been well organized, so in roughly about 20-25 minutes I had cleared security check and was headed towards the food court to find myself a seat with a good view of the active runway.

Boarding Experience


I reached my gate almost 40 minutes before the scheduled time of departure, I noticed there were only passengers waiting with no ground staff. It was 18:50 (our departure time was 19:00) and still there was no staff at the gate, they finally arrived at the gate at 19:15.

When everyone questioned them, all they could say was “The inbound aircraft is delayed so we are not sure when your flight will start boarding”

I asked: “Can a rough estimate time of departure be provided?” For which he gave me a savage reply by saying, “Sir, the aircraft hasn’t landed yet, it will land when it has to land and then we can give you an estimated time of departure.”

I wasn’t much surprised, having flown previously with Air India when it was run by the government the attitude of the staff was same. After no information and a delay of 65 minutes we finally started boarding.

The Air India check-in counter at Mumbai Airport.

The Seat


Air India offers Business Class and Economy class seats, business class is offered in 2-2 configuration whereas economy class is offered in 3-3 standard configuration. As soon as I took my seat, I was surprised to see that there was no seat pocket available.

In every airline I have flown in India I was quite surprised to see that such a basic thing was missing from a full-service carrier. It made everything quite uncomfortable throughout my journey as I had to charge my Phone and there was no place for me to keep my Power Bank.

Even the leg space was a bit cramped and I felt for someone of my height Indigo’s seats were comfortable than on Air India.

The cabin of the Air India flight to Bengaluru.
The legroom on the Air India Mumbai to Bengaluru flight.

In-flight Service


Soon after take-off crew started meal service, I was not aware that Air India serves only cold-snacks on its flights within 0-120hrs of duration (now in comparison Vistara serves full meal on BOM-BLR sector and that food is nothing less than phenomenal) there was no option of Vegetarian or Non-vegetarian as they serve only vegetarian sandwich.

As soon as I opened the sandwich, I did get a weird smell, and one single bite of the food confirmed that food was horrible. My suggestion – Air India should not serve anything preferable to giving its customers such horrible food. I just drank my water and decided to sleep for rest of my flight.

PHOTO CREDITS: Gaurav Gowda

Arrival at Bengaluru


We arrived at Bengaluru after a delay of 75 minutes, and it took almost 30-40 minutes for our checked-in baggage to arrive on the belt. At this point of time, I was just exhausted.

Conclusion


Air India has a lot of potential, they have slots in one of the busiest airports in the world. At present they don’t have any competition in the domestic market.

Air India is the only airline with widebody aircraft, (considering that Vistara and Air India will be merged in coming days) for international routes.

But they need a complete overhaul, and it should start from fixing the cabin and cabin crew. I would also be trying their actual meal as I will be flying on MAA-DEL. Stay tuned for this flight review as well.

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