I finally got down to packing for my trip a night before, but I decided to carry some stuff back home which was lying around in my Mumbai home and being good for nothing. As a result, your roll-aboard toting traveller had a couple of check-in luggage pieces to take care. Since this was turning out to be a trip full of exceptions, I decided to go with the flow, and that meant I was not going to the airport directly from office but taking a short detour home to load up the bags.
I checked in for the flight online when it opened 48 hours prior and pocketed 250 miles in the process. Jet Airways gives away 250 JP miles to everyone who checks in on an automated mode (Internet or kiosk or SMS). They have been running this as a promotion, but it seems to be in promotion mode for the longest time, so I guess, they should make it a part of their regular ongoing offering.
The short detour at home in Mumbai turned out to be a long hike after all. For those of whom who know the Mumbai topology, it’s a city that grows north. The prominent central business district is at the tip of south Mumbai, and my home is 25 km northwards, in the same suburb as the airport’s domestic terminal. I thought it should not take me more than 20 mins extra since I was not in the contention for peak 6 pm traffic but the traffic gods had other plans for me. Which leads me to the question on my mind these days, “is there a traffic god?” Please let me know if you do. 😉
It took me something like 3 hours to eventually get to the airport after collecting my bags from home. There was a phase where the cab driver wanted to refuel his car and took the longest time at the gas station. And then we got stuck in some good old bumper to bumper traffic on the roads of Mumbai. Bah!
The reason I give so much prominence to getting stuck on this post is that I like arriving at the airport a little early and be a little relaxed about the fact that I am not going to be missing my flight! However, This day was going in a different direction altogether!!! I was anxious about the flight, because this was the first time I was cutting it so close after the new airline directive which said there would be a closure of check-in queues 45 minutes before departure at Mumbai. And apparently, this was supposed to be a hard closure with no room for their frequent clients or business class pax because of this lead to flight delays!
So it was 1803, and they’d stop accepting pax at 1820 according to the rulebook. I have still stuck quite a stretch away from the airport, and all I could see was traffic around me with cars bobbing all over in various colours and sizes! I was plain, simple, Anxious!I Eventually had to call the number I’ve saved on the phone but never had to use so far! The 9W in charge at the Mumbai Airport to explain the situation and ask for a little leeway if it was needed. But the voice on the other side of the phone seemed to think I would make it and hence nothing needed to be done. I said Amen to that!
In a magical spell, yeah, it was magic, the traffic gods decided enough is enough, and I pulled over at the gate at 1807. After settling the bill with the cab and getting my bags on, I was at the check-in queue for Premiere passengers at 1815. Please note, I was still not upgraded, yeah! 9W told me to check at the Airport. As a Gold tier member, I had access to the business class check-in (thank god for small mercies!) Once I got through to the check-in agent, all he had to do was stamp my paper boarding pass and accept my bags.
At that point, he informed me that I was enlisted for an upgrade, but he could not confirm just yet because the flight was full. It missed my attention earlier that they were flying a Boeing 737-800 on this route which had the 8C/162 Y configuration (Check here!). This was a result of the downturn days when they reconfigured quite a few of their planes to an all-economy (low cost) flight configuration by the brand ‘Jet Airways Konnect’, and then added some Business Class seats to accommodate premium fliers on the planes as business environment picked up.
So here I was finally accepted on the plane, still on my seat 10A, at the front of the back of the plane! I was informed lounge access was on the presentation of the boarding pass and we’d be boarding from one of the newer aerobridge gates in a newly constructed terminal extension recently. I moved onwards for the security check, and which is where Mumbai airport looked a bit like the Kolkata airport (CCU) today.
Do you note those serpentine queues? Eh! This looked like Monday morning flying in the middle of the week! Unless everyone had a long weekend, I was not aware of!
After going through the security check, I walked over to Terminal 1C, which was the playground for the evening. This is how it looked…
I also happened to notice this fascinating and very Mumbaiya artefact adorning one of the walls of the airport terminal…
After this little jog around the airport, I was hungry (given my 3 hours on the road…) and I thought of spinning by the lounge for a quick snack (so that I could have dinner on the plane). Terminal 1C only has a single Carnations lounge, which is shared by Kingfisher and Jet Airways. This lounge also hosts the American Express Platinum Lounge for Mumbai. There is a separate enclosure inside for the AX Plats. I was asked for my boarding pass by the 9W agent on the reception, and she validated my ticket and access to the lounge before letting me in. [Update: This lounge is now closed]
Note the massage chairs outside, never tried them, but hopefull,y someday I will have the time 😉
Another regular day, another full lounge. I had to move around a bit to find a table for myself. Finally, when I got one, I headed to grab the quick snack. On offer were tomato sandwiches, Chilli Idlis and some chana chat. There was also some gravy chicken but it did not interest me much. There was also some Kokam sharbat.
Boarding was announced for my flight, and I suddenly saw about 15% of the lounge rush to the gate. Boy, this was going to be a full flight. On my way out I got a call from the Jet Airways staff I had talked to earlier. It was kind of them to call and check if I had reached the airport and everything was alright or not. The duty manager also informed me that since this was a pretty full flight, they were not able to accommodate my request for an upgrade.
Sincerely, I was pleased at this point to have made it to the plane and would have been happy with my 10A also. I thanked her for the call, and for taking care of the details.