Kathmandu Tribuvhan International Airport (KTM) – New Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL)
STD: 15:05 ATD: 17:25 (GMT+5:45)
STA: 16:50 ATA: 19:30 (GMT+5)
Aircraft: Airbus A321-100
Flight Date: March 11, 2017
Class of Service: Economy Class
Seat Pitch: 31-32 inches
Seat Width: 17-18 inches
Meals: Afternoon snack after take off. No alcohol except beer – served in addition to soft drinks, juices and water. No hot drinks (coffee/tea)
In-Seat Outlets: No
IFE: Drop down screens that only displayed the airshow
For my trip to Asia, I flew round trip from Chicago to New Delhi (best price point) and added in a round trip ticket through Air India from New Delhi to Kathmandu. Although I did not have high expectations for the airlines, the price and the travel times attracted me to book the ticket.
Check In & Boarding
In comparison to domestic and international flights I have taken before, the process was a bit tedious. My bags and I were checked three times (x-ray upon entry, x-ray prior to entering gate area, manual bag search as we boarded the plane). We also took a shuttle bus onto the tarmac to board the plane. The longest process being the manual check of bags and pat down on the cold tarmac.
The flight was late – scheduled to leave at 15:05 but we did not board until 17:00. The reason they announced was due to weather (overcast and rainy). They never apologized for the delay.
The airplane itself was dated but clean. All seats were in order and seemed to be functioning. I did notice an odd piece of plastic poking from the overhead of row 14.
At the most, the flight was 40-50% full which mean plenty of seat options and overhead compartment room for bags. This was probably for the better as the seat pitch was very tight, and if someone reclined in front of you there would be problems. The width of the seat was fine, nothing to write home about. The seat was very used and not that well maintained (things were falling apart) and on the harder side. Not sure about the cleanliness either, there were marks and stains all over the place.
Overall the interior was dated and didn’t compare very well to other airlines.
After a very loud and turbulent take-off cruising was then smooth until meal time.
The crew consisted of three members, one tall young handsome male, two young pretty girls. The male flight attendant wore a turban, white long sleeve shirt, dark blue vest and slacks. The women wore a gold/yellow traditional dress with hair pulled up into sleek buns. All members were very polite and efficient.
The flight attendants came to offer a snack. The tall handsome flight attendant asked several people “chicken or vegetarian ?” When he came to my aisle (no one was sitting in any of the rows two ahead or behind or on either side of me) he smiled very politely and placed a tray in front of me. It had “VEG” on the foil wrapping. He then walked several paces to the next passenger and asked… “Chicken or vegetarian?” I was planing on asking for the veggie option anyways, but why did he assume I was vegetarian?
The snack was a bean pie, small triangle sandwich made of marble rye/white bread with a single slice of white cheese, a pastry pocket with corn and spinach, an open faced pastry(Indian pizza we shall call it) with a tomato based sauce, cheese, onions and green peppers on top.
The bean pie was the best part of the meal, although reminiscent of a TV dinner side – but was hot and flavorful, the Indian pizza was tasty too, but the onions made it off-putting to me.
Dessert was a sweet cake soaked in syrup. The snack also included a small 200 mL of Ula brand mineral water and a sundries pack (contained plastic spoon and fork, branded napkin, small clear plastic straw, diary creamer, moist towelette, packet of sugar).
I have had the sweet cake many times before with a good Indian friend of mine – same as always: moist and overly sweet.
The flight attendants ended the meal service with an offer of tea or coffee (I did not take either).
About 1 hour into the flight we hit a patch of turbulence. They asked passengers to sit and place their seat belts. As passengers took their time meandering back to their seats- one bump made an unexpected visitor pop into the aisle seat of my row. He seemed to apologize sheepishly (in a language I did not understand) and scurried to his seat.
The remaining flight was smooth. Flight time from take off to landing was about 1 hr 30 minutes not counting for air traffic issues both in Kathmandu and Delhi. The landing was much smoother than the take off and deplaning was quick due to our light load factor on the flight. We left through the front left door, just as we had boarded. At the end of the jetway there were Air India ground agents holding signs and placards with peoples’ names who were booked onward connections that they might have missed due to the late take off from Kathmandu. .
Overall, I was not impressed with Air India. The aircraft seemed dated and the loud take off/landing was alarming. Next time I am flying in that region, I will consider Jet Airways which has a similar price point (but at the time was more expensive of the two options). Also, the seats in business class were only marginally better than the economy class, with not much more legroom and seat width. From what I could tell from where I was seated, the actual meal/beverage service looked very familiar to ours, only on fancier plates and white linens given out. I would only imagine that the extra money would not be worth the upgrade.
I probably wouldn’t recommend Air India to anyone as I’ll probably never find myself flying with them again. Their main local (full service) competitor in the region is Jet Airways and they look like a much better airline with a much more professional approach to their operations.