I’ll make this a succinct trip report. Recently, I had to travel to Dubai for a weekend visit with Audi India. However, as India-Dubai flights are relatively short, our hosts travel policy meant that we were to fly Economy Class. No big deal on a three-hour flight, but I was a bit surprised that the travel desk could not get tickets on EK and I was booked on the 1555 Jet Airways departure 9W588. I pre-booked an Emergency Exit row window seat and a non-vegetarian diabetic meal for myself. Also, as an aside after writing this I started wondering what logic the airlines use for 'tier miles' and accruals. On this trip to Dubai, I got fewer tier points than for a DEL-JAI-DEL trip I did a bit later in September. Anyhow, helped me climb from Silver to Gold.
A few pictures of the airport
They have made a mosaic on the tunnel to the airport
When I’m flying domestic, it is almost always for a day trip and I rarely check-in luggage, but when I travel abroad even for a shortish trip, I tend to overpack - spare clothes and often at least one pair of shoes more than I need. Despite that, I did online check-in on Jet’s site, which can be a bit slow at times but worked fine. Once at the airport I promptly went to the Priority Check-In desks on Row B at Delhi’s T3 as I’m Silver on 9W and this is where I encountered a bit of an issue. While the lady at the desk checked me in and tagged my baggage but I had to walk to the Economy counters in Row A to get my ‘security clearance’. That basically means a small sticker on the reverse of your passport saying ‘OK’ to fly and involves a Visa Check. This is common on all flights to the UAE as there are hundreds of skilled and unskilled labourers flying to the UAE and other Arab destinations.
What I didn’t get is why as a priority customer I had to go another counter stand in line again, get the sticker, go back to collect my boarding pass and then return to the earlier line to collect my paper visa. Of course, I tweeted this with Jet replying asking for what happened on DM and well, I narrated the experience. I hope they took my feedback and sorted this issue out for premium passengers.
There are days that you know that the fates are determined to make you walk c’est la vie. As Jet uses Row A/B at T3, which are great for domestic passengers it is the other end of the terminal when it comes to Immigration and Security. And as luck would have it, the shortest lines in immigration were in the counters which even more walking.
Because the Arab World has been built on the back of Indian labour and often these labourers often end up in trouble. Then there are those that end up trying to do a ‘kabootar’ (pigeon) and try and go with people smugglers to Europe via Libya right now. So the immigration officials take their own sweet time processing these folks, and as the queues at the immigration are short at 2PM, this was inordinately long. But I guess they’re just doing their job. Immigration stamp collected and security cleared I want to the Plaza Premium Lounge the A Lounges area on the first floor above Duty Free. I prefer the ‘A’ Lounges when an airline lounge is not available because they face the glass front of the terminal and feel less claustrophobic. But I’ve said this is previous TR’s - DEL has pretty sad lounges. The only airlines to maintain lounges are AI, LH and SQ (three Star Alliance carriers) and EK.
Despite 9W operating several international flights out of DEL, it doesn’t operate a lounge. The only beer was Kingfisher Premium and the alcohol’s on offer were downmarket domestic Vodkas and Gins along with Black Dog for whisky. The food though wasn’t half-bad and since I expected to be on Economy on a post-lunch departure I didn’t expect a big meal on board but I was hungry so I did eat and around 3.15PM started walking to my gate, and as I said the fates wanted me to walk so well, it was Gate 26 which was one of the farthest gates. And well, boarding was nowhere near starting when I got to the Gate as the cabin crew were still waiting for the incoming plane. I saw SQ’s much delayed 9V-SKC move past before VT-JBG pulled up to my gate.
The view of the shopping mall that doubles up as Delhi T3, from the Lounges "A' level
This was a 9W 737-85R that had been involved in a ‘excursion’ at GOI in December 2016. I had noticed this plane forlorn at the Coast Guard apron at Goa and never thought it would make it back into service as it had some significant damage. But I guess the insurers felt it would be cheaper to repair the plane even at Goa. I flew her recently back from BOM and she looked quite fine actually. Anyway, once boarding started and I got to the gate my boarding card buzzed red, and I had scored an upgrade. Not that Jet’s 737 business class seats are much to talk about, but well better food and drink, as a result I also lost my window, but big deal. Boarding took some time as the flight was packed to the rafters and I’m pretty sure that 9W even sold my previous seat. Business Class was 11/12 and all seats in Economy, even on Jet’s pathetic non-reclining last row were taken up.
I’m not a fan of Jet’s business class, while I appreciate the additional seat width and legroom, their ‘regional/domestic’ Premiere cabin is two generations behind. Last year I flew DL business between LAX and SEA and that was a solidly configured domestic business class seat. Mechanical operating switches for the seats, a small non-HD screen with an extremely poor choice of video entertainment - and one that didn’t work for the first half an hour of flight - although 9W does have a very good audio selection. While I do hope to progress another tier level on 9W sooner rather than later, they do need a major upgrade. And while Billecart-Salmon has decent reviews, somehow I’ve never really liked it. The cold chicken sandwich offered though wasn’t bad at all.
But nowadays the best thing to do is to load some content on your phone and I had a few episodes of Preacher and I was good to go to entertain myself and the three hours passed uneventfully over a couple of espressos, although it was rather bumpy over central Iran.
G&T and warm nuts
IFE and salad
A cold chicken salad as my main
We made the standard approach into DXB looping over the desert onto 30R, but no window remember! Anyhow, smooth landing and then a long taxi to the newish D-Gates of Terminal 1. There was a SpiceJet plane in the gate next to ours, a few Pakistani carriers too on other gates. One advantage of business class is the chance to deplane first but because immigration and luggage collection is at the main Terminal 1, some of that advantage was lost waiting for the airport train but I still made it to immigration early and was through quickly enough. My suitcase was one of the first off the plane and less than 30 minutes after deplaning I was making my way to the taxi rank. Extremely efficient and well-done DXB.
A few pics from Dubai
The view of Skeikh Zayed Road from my friend's 72nd floor apartment
In Dubai when they say they add a tower every hour are these sorts of towers
A picture of the La Perle show at al-Habtoor city
- a video of the La Perle show - amazing show and great for kids too http://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=pd0VT_wafFc
The interiors of the Burj al-Arab hotel, bling for the win
The Audi Q2 we drove to Ras al-Khai'mah
After a nice three days in Dubai, where I got to enjoy some great food and drink and managed some spare time to meet old school friends and my wife’s uncle as well as doing some driving and shopping, it was time to head back. My travel companions were all taking the EK flight to BOM, so I decided to leave the hotel we were staying at with them. This meant I was at the airport almost four hours before my flight and I was not allowed to check-in, so I whiled away an hour at a Costa Coffee and even got some work done. Finally I did check-in and while a gate wasn’t announced, it was certain to be on the D-gates again for 9W545, so the train again it was. The Lounges were also at the D-Gates and after a few Duty-Free purchases I went to the Marhaba Lounge, which was decently well-equipped and had a fair choice of drinks and food. I would not call it excellent, but it wasn’t too bad.
Take off video - http://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=Qj72pfnPIbA
The train to the D-Concourse on T1
Non-Veg diabetic meal
I went to gate around 45 minutes before take-off and boarding hadn’t yet begun. But this flight was clearly not full which became apparent when boarding began. There must have been just a third of the flight full. Originally I had the entire second exit row to myself actually the first exit row was also empty and the crew had to find volunteers to man the exit doors. I actually fell asleep soon after a dusty departure from 30R although my special meal was brought first. I like the diabetic non-vegetarian meal on Jet as you get a nice-big piece of chicken but no dessert (airline dessert? Nope. I might do 50 flights a year but avoid dessert on all of them) and I went back to sleep.
Arrival into DEL’s runway 29 was bang on time, we got a gate without much of a walk and at 8PM, immigration was empty. Of course, this time my suitcase (with a priority tag no less) took forever to arrive but once I collected it, I was out of the terminal and back home just an hour and a half after landing. Not too bad at all.
There has been far too much travel this year, and I've not managed to write all the TR's that I would like to, but I hope you enjoyed this one.
This was a slightly earlier one - viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1366517&p=19661251&hilit=cricket#p19627975