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An Indian Jewel (well almost): Jet Airways DEL-PNQ-DEL

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  • An Indian Jewel (well almost): Jet Airways DEL-PNQ-DEL

    While we were enjoying our stay in Delhi with our relatives, we decided that we wanted to meet our relatives in Pune, who we hadn't seen in the past 3 years, and wanted to go to Shirdhi, where the main temple of the popular Indian saint (Sai Baba) was.

    Why we chose Jet Airways:

    The Indian aviation scene has changed dramatically since the days when Air India/Indian Airlines ruled the skies. Jet Airways has come a long way from its humble beginnings to become the premier carrier in India. In addition, Indian aviation was turned on its side when flamboyant Vijay Mallaya, the CEO of the United Breweries Group, launched Kingfisher Airlines. The airline had some of the most beautiful women in the skies, was the first Indian airline to introduce PTVs in all classes, gave amenity packs and free meals on flights less than 2 hours!, and the airline quickly rose to be the "King" of the Indian skies. However, Kingfisher's standards have slipped a little, combined with the confusion over the airline's low cost branch, Kingfisher RED and the drastic improvements shown by Jet Airways, and the mighty Kingfisher no longer rules the Indian sky.

    We basically chose Jet Airways because of their schedule and very good reputation. In addition, I was highly disappointed that only Kingfisher RED, not Kingfisher Airlines, served the DEL-PNQ route. In addition, LCCs like IndiGO and Spicejet also served the route.


    The booking was relatively painless, as we booked through the Jet Airways site, with us buying the "special fare" option. Jet and United recently opened a code-sharing agreement, so was quite happy about that, as we would get 900 miles (50%) for the return journey. The price was $320 each and everything went great, except for the fact that Jet Airways doesn't send you an e-mail confirmation and I forgot to write down the confirmation number. After a while of trying in vain to remember the confirmation number, I called up Jet Airways and the phone service was excellent and I was on my way.

    Flight #1:

    Route: DEL-PNQ
    Operating Airline/Flight Number: Jet Airways (9W 365)
    Class of travel: Economy
    Departure Time/Scheduled Departure Time: 8:55am/8:30am
    Arrival Time/Scheduled Arrival Time: 10:58am/10:35am
    Gates: DEL Terminal 1D remote stand, Pune unknown
    Aircraft Reg: VT-JGX Boeing 737-700 with winglets, new livery

    Jet Airways commercial:

    Here are some photos of our plane in the database, sorry the thumbnail feature isn't working right now:

    [/B]We checked-in online using Jet Airway's manage my booking system and we input our special meal requests (Asian Veg.). The program was easy to use and very quick. It was kind of funny, but the boarding passes that I printed out were pretty small and I thought the phrase "welcome on aboard Jet Airways" was pretty funny!

    At around 6:00am the next morning, we took the NH8 to the domestic terminal and the drive was pretty smooth, however, we got lost and ended up at the arrival Terminal, instead, of Terminal 1D. So we ended up going around again. The airport system in India is kind of strange because the International terminal and the Domestic terminal are really separate airports! Once we reached Terminal 1D, I was impressed by how organized and spacious the new terminal was. The architecture was absoloutely splendid, reminding me a lot of Kaula Lumpur, and we headed to check-in desk.

    Jet Airways had some long lines and very confused staff, who kept sending us in different directions, until we gave a firm response that we would rather wait in one line. Check-in took about 35 minutes, but the staff was friendly. Once that was done we headed to security, where it was another chaotic set-up with one desk closing and sending everyone to another line and then back again. Due to the security charade it took 25 minutes to clear security!


    Surprisingly for India, boarding was actually quite smooth, as we boarded by rows and were escorted to a nice AC bus standing outside. Even at 8:00am, the temperature outside was over 95 degrees F and a stiffing near 100% humidity level prevailed (oh, how I so much prefer the dry heat of Denver!). Once, we reached the aircraft everyone got off the bus in a slightly haphazard manner, but still fairly ok, as there was no pushing and we climbed into a nice Boeing 737-700 with a very nice greeting by two flight attendants and another flight attendant who carried on some small talk with me, while I walked to my seat. I was very happy to see that the overhead bins weren't crowded and could easily fit my regular sized carry-on. (Indians tend to carry a lot of baggage on-board planes!)

    The flight:

    After the orderly boarding, the crew distributed water bottles and the pilot informed us that we would have to wait over 25 minutes due to the fact that we were number 28 in the departure clearance queue.

    The GPU (ground-power unit) overheated slightly, due to the full AC that was running on the aircraft, so for about 5 minutes, we had to sit in a pretty warm aircraft, before the GPU could be re-started. During the long wait, I watched the AVOD programs on JetScreen.

    At 8:55am, we pushed back and the very loud roar of the CF-6 engines prevailed throughout the cabin. The cabin lights were dimed and a nice soothing music, almost like elevator music was played throughout the cabin. We taxied for almost 15 minutes, before holding for about 5 minutes at runway 10/28 and we then blasted off the runway into some moderate turbulence. After about 4 minutes, turbulence subsided and we began our smooth climb up to 34,000 feet.

    The engine noise on climb was mildly noisy, but once the plane began cruise, the aircraft was extremely quiet. In fact, much quieter than the Airbus A320 series aircraft I have been on. The cruise was mostly smooth and after 1 hr 30 min, we began our descent to Pune and a did a circuit before getting landing clearance. The weather at Pune was very rainy, so it made for a very bumpy final approach. The touchdown was slightly firm and full reverse was applied. During the braking the plane appeared to skid for a few seconds, but everything was fine and we cleared the runway. The pilot informed us that the skidding was due to a large pool of water near the middle of the runway.

    We parked at a remote stand and exited by bus.

    Comfort, IFE, food and beverages:

    The Boeing 737-700 was extremely comfortable and roomy. In fact, the legroom was enough that one could get out without asking the other person to move. The seats themselves were very nice and the plane was in very good condition.

    As for the in-flight entertainment (IFE), we had JetScreen with a large 8" monitor, based on the Panasonic AVOD system. There were pleanty of movies and programs and you could stop and rewind the movies. The map was Iexplor, which was very comprehensive and much better than previous generation moving maps. I watched "Chandni Chowk to China," on the IFE for the flight. A newspaper was provided in each seat (The Hindu) along with a safety card, and Jet Wings, Jet Airway's comprehensive in-flight magazine.

    What really impressed me about Jet Airways, was that the service began on the ground. Two flight attendants carrying trays of 250mL of water bottles came down the isles, which kept passengers hydrated during the long delay.
    About 20 minutes after take-off, the cabin crew came around with trays of lime juice and orange juice. Since, I didn't want either, I asked for a coke and the flight attendant got it for me from the galley. I don't understand why Jet Airways has to resort to using drink trays and not a drink cart. The process was agonizingly slow and each time the flight attendant had to go back to get other drinks or when he/she run out. I wasn't impressed!

    The meal service was much more organized and the flight attendants were carrying around a list of people with special meals. Even though Asian Veg. is a standard choice on most Indian flights, the phone staff encouraged me to put it in because that way they could guarantee that I would get that meal. The flight attendant saw his list of special meals and asked if we would prefer North Indian Veg, (Poori Aloo, Deep fried Indian bread with a spicy tomato and potato curry) or South Indian Veg. (Dosa with Vara and Sambhar, an Indian style crepe stuffed with spicy Potatoes with fried riced dumplings and Sambhar, an Indian style soup/curry cooked from lentils, spices, and fresh vegetables).

    We chose North Indian Vegetarian, the non-veg option was an omlet. Our meal came with sweetened yogurt, raita [often used as a cooling agent] (yogurt with spinach (can have other vegetables like Cucumber, carrot, etc, but the one we were served had cooked spinach), and fresh fruit. I was surprised that we got a pretty big meal/snack for breakfast on a 2 hour domestic short hop and the food was tasty!!!

    Cabin Crew:

    Surprisingly we had 5 flight attendants on this Boeing 737, 2 serving Premiere (Business) and 3 serving Economy. Considering most US airlines only have 3 flight attendants on such aircraft, the staff numbers were pretty amazing.

    The crew was very good, doing their duties well and were pleasant, although they weren't super smiley. I don't really care for fake smiles, I just want the staff be polite, patient, and pleasant when dealing with customers, so it didn't bother me. They came around with water bottles when we were on the ground, offered one bar service, did a second water bottle run, and a full meal. In addition, Indians kind of have a notorious habit of pushing call buttons extensively, but the staff was quick to handle requests.


    I was very impressed with Jet Airways on this domestic sector, aside from the poorly organized check-in staff at DEL and the disorganized bar service, everything was perfect. The flight attendants were very good, the plane was new and spotless, the seats were incredibly comfortable, we got an AVOD PTV, a large magazine and a free newspaper and a free meal. What more could you want for a domestic flight, considering we get maybe 1/3-1/5 the service provided on Jet Airways on US domestic flights. Yes, the fare was expensive, but completely worth it!

    Booking: 7/10 (no e-mail confirmation)
    Phone Service: 10/10
    Check-in:6/10 (Jet get 6 points for the friendly check-in agent, otherwise the check-in area was chaotic and we were told to shift line 4 times!)
    Boarding: 9/10 (a little haphazard, but very orderly for India)
    Cabin Crew: 10/10 (a great effort)
    Beverage Selection: 4/10 (orange juice, lime juice, coke, or water, pretty limited beverage menu, IMHO)
    Meal: 9/10 (tasted pretty good, the pooris were a little soft, but hey it was great for airline food and nice quantity provided too)
    Seat Comfort & Legroom: 10/10 (most legroom I have ever had in Economy class on any airline!)

    Jet Airways Star Rating for this flight: 4.6/5 (Excellent)
    Terminal 1D: 3.9/5 (vast improvement for Delhi's new domestic departure terminal, food court was small and security staff disorganized were the only knocks, good views of aircraft)
    Pune: 3/5 (will talk about that later!)

    Flight #2: PNQ-DEL (Jet Airways flight 364)

    Class of Travel: Economy
    Aircraft: Boeing 737-700W (VT-JGX again)
    Scheduled Departure Time/Actual Arrival Time: 7:00pm/7:32pm
    Scheduled Arrival Time/AAT: 9:10pm/10:20pm

    Prevailing Weather Conditions:

    Pune: 65 degrees F, very mild, slightly windy, cloudy/storms approaching (< 10-15 mph)
    Delhi: 90 degrees F, low winds, partly cloudy


    Well, the 9W website, decided for some reason that it didn't want to allow me to do an online check-in, which I found kind of annoying. We arrived at the Pune Airport 90 minutes prior to departure and I found the newly revamped terminal to be pretty good on the inside, although the traffic situation outside the airport was pretty chaotic.

    Once we cleared the brief doccument check outside the airport, we proceeded to the 9W check-in counters, which were surprisingly well staffed. We only had to wait maybe 2 minutes and we were greeted by a very friendly Jet Airways agent, who once again checked our passports and we were on our way. I found it kind of annoying that on the 9W tags and on the boarding passes, one side was dedicated to ads. Guess airlines are trying to avail every possible source of revenue.

    Afterwards, we proceeded to security, which took about 10 minutes. I find India extremely strange in the fact that on domestic flights you're not supposed to take-out your laptop, but on international flights you are!


    The Pune airport has undergone a lot of renovations and I was happy to see the large seating areas, huge arrary of coffee kiosks/shops, and free newspapers! It was kind of strange that an airport with just 10 gates, needed a dual level departure area, since our flight was departing from gate 4 we went to the upper level.

    Boarding started 30 minutes prior to departure and was fairly well organized. However, it was kind of annoying to walk down two flights of stairs then wait for 2 minutes for a bus to come. Why India can't put jetways in its domestic terminals is beyond me.

    The Jet Airways AC bus was nicely maintained and after 5 minutes we reached our plane. I was kind of surprised to see that the same plane that brought me to Pune, was going to take me back to Delhi.

    Since we had row 20 we climbed from the back stairs and it was very nice to see that the 9W ground personnel took my mother's bag up the stairs for her.

    [SIZE=3][COLOR=Blue][COLOR=Orange][COLOR=Black][SIZE=2]Upon, boarding the plane, I was very pissed off to see that the overhead bins above and near to my seat were filled to the brim, after about 5 minutes (with a flight attendant trying to help me find an overhead bin, and then continually repeating sir you may need to check-in the bag to cargo), I finally found an overhead bin towards the front of the economy cabin, filled with about 5 shopping bags, so I just picked up 2 of the shopping bags, put my mom's and my carry-on in and put the bags to the side. Why so many Indians feel the need to carry-on so much hand baggage and the need to fill up entire overhead bins with shopping bags that could be clearly kept under the seat, beats me!

    That incident was especially annoying because my standard sized roller had my SLR, a 70-300 mm lens, and my laptop in it. I wasn't about to immediately check that into cargo!

    The flight:

    After about 10 minutes, we finally pushed back from the gate and had a quick 3 minute taxi to the runway, before we roared into the sky. As soon as we lifted off the ground, we experienced some pretty moderate/heavy turbulence, which our pilot had warned us about. The climb was moderately loud and very bumpy, due to this the crew didn't start serving drinks until about 35 minutes into the flight.

    Once, we reached our cruising altitude, the flight was ok with occasional chop. Our descent into Delhi was fairly smooth, but we were placed into a hold for a good 30-35 minutes, due to traffic congestion at Delhi. Afterwards, the pilot made a smooth landing on the new runway 11/29, but I was cursing our luck because the runway is a good 20 minute taxi from the domestic terminal! Sure enough, we spent 23 minutes taxiing around the Delhi airport, so we arrived very late at our gate. As with the other flight, a nice soothing piano music was played during take-off and landing.

    Comfort, Food, Beverage, and IFE:

    The plane was very clean and our seats were again very comfortable. Unfortunately, because this was an evening departure, most of the newspapers had been beat up a little, but the cabin crew were very quick in getting brand-new newspapers to customers who asked for them.

    The seat was very comfortable and had a huge amount of legroom, in fact, you could get in out of a row fairly easily without asking your row-mate to get up, that's how much legroom there was in economy! The JetScreen entertainment system wasn't turned on until 15 minutes after departure, but the AVOD IFE was excellent and I watched the hit hindi movie "Rad ne Banadi Jodhi" (A marriage made by god) to pass the time. The iexplor in-flight map was once again very good.

    Like the previous flight, the flight attendants actually began serving passengers when the flight was on the ground, as they came around with bottles of fresh lime juice or water. About 35 minutes after take-off, the crew came around with glasses of water or orange juice, and I once again had to ask for a flight attendant to specially bring me a coke from the galley, which was done promptly and with a smile.

    The meal service began 15 minutes later, and the choices were roasted Chicken Tikka (Indian style chicken cooked seasoned and marinated in an array of spices and then traditionally grilled in a tandoor (clay over) or in this case baked to perfection) or Vegetable Bryani (Steamed veggies cooked in a curry flavored basmati rice). The meal came with Kheer as dessert (Indian style rice pudding spiced with cardamon and cooked with raisins and slivered almonds. In addition, the was a bowl of raita (yogurt cooked with spinach and grated cucumbers, actually quite tasty) and a small cup of papadams (Indian style crackers cooked from lentil flour and spiced with ground pepper). My mom and I had the vegetarian option, while our row-mate had the chicken tikka, which smelled and supposedly tasted great. Unfortunately, Veg. Bryani was dry and lacked flavor, only tasting of salt, a little coriander, and uncooked chili powder. The vegetable in the rice were undercooked, but at least the kheer was very tasty, as was the raita.

    Afterwards, the cabin crew did a tea/coffee run and even came around for refills, even during the long holding pattern, the crew came around with water bottles and juice glasses.

    Cabin Crew:

    The crew was pretty good and it was very nice that the head purser tried to help me find space for our carry-ons, unlike many US airlines where the usual nonchalant response is "sir, have a look around" or "maybe there's space a few rows ahead, but I don't know." The crew did a good job of getting the meal and drink service done quickly and the head flight attendant even brought me a bag of Cadbury Eclairs and apologized for the little incident that happened with my carry-on, I think maybe he thought I was more pissed off than I really was (I was mainly more frustrated and worried than pissed off), but anyway it was an extremely kind gesture.

    In addition, the crew was much more smiley than the other crew on the previous flight.

    Arrival into Delhi:

    After the insanely long taxi to our gate, we finally deplaned and got on a nice AC bus. The stiffing hot weather in Delhi at around 10:00 pm was a huge change from the pleasant weather of Pune. The bus took about 10 minutes to reach the arrival terminal and we quickly exited the building. Overall, the domestic arrival terminal had been improved as it was now well lit and more spacious than the original design.

    Once outside, it was extremely annoying to see that people couldn't understand that the pick up and go areas, don't mean sit here and wait, which led to huge traffic jams and even despite the best efforts of the police, nothing happened.

    DEL Arrival Rating: 2.6/5

    PNQ Departure Rating: 3.7/5

    Overall ratings for our flight:
    Check-in: 4/5
    Boarding: 2/5
    Beverage Selection: 2/5 (again very poor just Coke, Water, Orange Juice, and lime juice)
    Crew: 5/5 (couldn't have met a nicer crew)
    IFE: 4/5 (crew turned on the system very late and shut it off very early, other than that JetScreen AVOD is very good)

    Overall Rating of Jet Airways:

    Jet Airways was truly an excellent airline, but a few minor blemishes prevented it from getting a perfect score, however, domestic flying in India has come a very long way and Jet Airways dramatic changes (excellent crew and lots of amenities) have once again put on top of the Indian skies. I would give it 4.7/5 overall.

    Comments, questions and forms of feedback are great appreciated



    Jet Airways typical cabin crew uniforms: (on my flights, the female flight attendants were wearing the blue unifom) (Photograph courtesy of Rediff News and Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images)

    A funny photo, showing the growing 9W and IT rivalry (though the two now have a code-sharing agreement): (found here:

    The logo of the hotel where we stayed in Shirdi (overall a fairly nice hotel (4 star), service was generally good, but was a little lackadaisical at times and the hotel had a very nice restaurant, with comfortable rooms).

    Some views from our hotel room:

  • #2
    wow! nice to see Jet Airways worked nicely, i flew with them from JFK to DEL and they were super!
    Nice pics and excellent report!!!! keep up the good work !!!!!!
    :-) Life is like a Journey,Travel it well. United Airlines :smile:


    • #3
      Nice report Rohan, very detailed.


      • #4
        Originally posted by I_Love_NY View Post
        wow! nice to see Jet Airways worked nicely, i flew with them from JFK to DEL and they were super!
        Nice pics and excellent report!!!! keep up the good work !!!!!!
        Thank you for the nice compliments, glad to see that you had a good experience on Jet Airways, as well.

        Originally posted by turbotraker View Post
        Nice report Rohan, very detailed.
        Thank you very much for the nice compliments.




        • #5
          Great report. It brought back fond memories from when I spent 2 months in Pune staying at the Le Meridian.
          E-Mail Me - My Photo's - My Photographer Profile


          • #6
            Great flight review, reminds me of the domestic flights I've had with Jet. It appears to be just as good as when I flew it back then. Heck, I've had full meals in a 9W AT75 and a CRJ 200 of Air Sahara, back when it was an independent airline. Indians like their in-flight food options!


            • #7
              Originally posted by bapilot2b View Post
              Great report. It brought back fond memories from when I spent 2 months in Pune staying at the Le Meridian.
              Thank you very much for the nice compliments.

              Originally posted by Foxtrot View Post
              Great flight review, reminds me of the domestic flights I've had with Jet. It appears to be just as good as when I flew it back then. Heck, I've had full meals in a 9W AT75 and a CRJ 200 of Air Sahara, back when it was an independent airline. Indians like their in-flight food options!
              Thank you for the nice compliments and I'm surprised that Jet Airways serves meals on flights operated by ATR's! Have to agree though Indians love their in-flight meal options.