CHECK IN Conscious of Mumbai’s unpredictable and wearying gridlocks, I left the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and Towers by the Gateway of India at 8.30am. I was to catch my flight 9W336 at 11.05am to Trivandrum, capital of Kerala. Either the driver was so skilful in navigation or traffic was unusually light because we arrived at Chattrapati Shivaji International Airport Terminal 1B at 9.20am, which was quite a feat.
I was met by the Taj Hotel rep, who escorted me to the check-in counter and brought my luggage to the scanner. As there were no other passengers, I was processed instantly. Next was the usual security hassle of Indian airports where passengers have to put their handcarry through the X-ray machine and proceed to an enclosed booth to be patted down. I am always fearful that my laptop will be snatched when not within (my) view. I wonder if they will ever find a way to solve this annoying procedure.
Don’t leave your boarding pass in your bag as the guard has to stamp it to let you through. The departure hall was cavernous.
BOARDING Announcements were made at 10.40am and passengers were asked to board the buses to take them to the waiting aircraft. The lines were orderly and people seemed extraordinarily cheerful. Was it because they were going somewhere nice?
This Boeing B737-800 featured a 3-3 configuration in Economy, which was quite full, although there were still some empty seats.
Water was offered as we settled down. We pushed off at 11.20am.
THE SEAT I was in the first row of Economy Class in an aisle seat, 10D. There is more legroom in this seat, though don’t make the mistake of extending your legs (or arms) out into the aisle or you will either trip up one of the cabin crew, or be run over by one of the trolleys. Also be prepared to experience the comings and goings of the cabin crew more intensely as row 10 is nearest the bulkhead separating Business and Economy Class. If you want privacy, better to choose a seat by the window.
As it’s a long way to the washroom at the back, consider going before the meal service rather than after, when queues are certain to form. Perhaps, when Business Class isn’t full and you’re able to charm one of the crew, you may be allowed to use the washroom there.
THE FLIGHT Lime juice Indian-style, tasting both sweet and salty, was offered. A light lunch followed, consisting of either a vegetarian meal or chicken croissant with spicy potatoes on the side. The sponge cake had an appealing crunchiness to it. Real silverware was used.
ARRIVAL The trip took an hour and 40 minutes but seemed shorter.
VERDICT Smooth flight and staff who respond quickly to requests.
PRICE Return Bombay-Trivandrum fare is from US$236.
Margie T Logarta