Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Between the devil and the deep blue sea - Jet or Air India

JET  OR AIR INDIA ?.....It's a good question


So like other fellow Goans, last week when we had to make an urgent trip to Goa, I faithfully browsed the internet looking for the best flight options and deals from Kuwait to Goa return and considering the fact that we (my wife and me) were going only for a week, we decided to take Jet  one way to Goa on Thursday evening and return on Air India on the following Friday.  Although it would be a little more expensive, we would still save a day.  Air Arabia and Qatar Airways were out of the question as the flights were working out much more expensive.

Now for those of you who might consider the cheapest options, this is my suggestion:-

1)      If you are booking well in advance (3 to 6 months ahead, Air Arabia and Qatar Airways will give you the cheapest fares, specially off season)
2)      Jet  will give you the second best fares, but you have to make a stopover in Mumbai)
3)  Comparatively Air-India is a little more expensive, but you will reach home ‘Direct’ within a few hours with no stop over.

We were booked by Jet departing from Kuwait on Thursday 3rd May 2012 at 20:35 for Mumbai and from there on to Goa at 05:40.  Check in at Kuwait airport was smooth as we had done our web check-in the previous night on line and so did not have to stand in the long queue.  Just inform any of the airline attendants that you have done a web check-in and they will direct you to the right counter.

Please remember when you weigh your luggage at home on your own scale, make sure it is at least 2 kg less than the permissible weight allowed, because although we had weighed our luggage at home to comply to the 40kg per person allowable check in luggage, the scale at the check in counter showed we were 2kg overweight.    

At 20:15 the boarding was announced we were taken down a flight of steps to a waiting bus for our drive to the aircraft.  A smartly dressed attendant holding a very noisy walkie-talkie then directed us to board the bus which we did jostling one another as is common practice among Indians, although we would all reach our destination at the same time.  Now a word about these buses, they are designed with only a few seats and quite a few hand holders (hand rings) for standing passengers and usually for safety reasons the buses are never overloaded.  However our smart attendant who must have done a crash course in Sardine Packing was doing his thesis on packing in as many as he could and finally when there was no more air in the bus, he ordered the driver to leave,  although there was another empty bus waiting for the same purpose.

I must confess, Jet  has some smart looking crew and this sort of made up for our  sardine mishap and about 45 minutes into the flight the cabin staff came with the trolley of goodies (read drinks) and one could sense the excitement and ear to ear smiles among the few Goans who were traveling on this flight.  There was a choice of whiskey,  Beer, and Vodka and although I was disheartened on seeing the labels, I cannot complain about the service which was excellent.

In about half hour dinner was served….and this is where I must say ‘Jet..... you failed’  I am not going to say much about it, but I am sure the picture below  will give you a pretty good idea of what is served on an INTERNATIONAL flight of Jet, middle east sector.  One tiny bottle of water, one yogurt, one tiny chocolate and one small plate containing some rice, dal and tiny pieces of chicken on a plastic disposable plate.
Meal offered by Jet

Upon landing at Mumbai airport (half hour late), immigration took about 40 minutes and then it was a mad dash to the duty free shop to purchase our quota of booze (2 bottles per pax).  Got the booze in 10 minutes flat and rushed to the conveyer belt where our luggage had already arrived.  Hurriedly opened my suitcase to put the booze bottles as domestic airlines do not allow passengers to carry liquid in hand baggage (even if sealed at your point of origin) and rushed through customs telling the kind officer that we were Goa passengers and our flight was about to leave.  However, we still had to put the luggage through the X-Ray machine and after collecting it the other side, someone directed us to the Jet counter where we had to once again screen the luggage, collect it the other side (nobody to help, mind you) and then hand it over to the  personnel hoping they would not forget to board it on your flight.  After a security guard checked our onward boarding passes, we were ushered into a waiting bus that took us through the airport area to the Domestic airport. 

Once at the domestic airport, we had to once again show our boarding passes to a security guard and rushed to do our domestic security all over again, were we had to even remove our belts etc… by the time  security check was done, it was 5:15am and the announcement was saying ‘final call’ for Goa Guests. Rushed to the waiting bus  to take us to our flight to Goa, and guess what!!!!  You will not believe this, but our bus took us back to the international airport to catch our Goa flight…. We saw the funny side of it though and shared a few laughs with our fellow Goan Guests about the mad dash we had to reach the domestic airport from the international airport, only to be taken back…. I believe this is standard procedure as we become local passengers once we cross immigration in Mumbai, so no complaints.

The flight to Goa took about an hour as we had to waste some fuel in air due to ‘Goa Airport Congestion’ and finally at 8:05am we landed in Goa.  I should not forget to mention that our suitcases had a strange kind of oil all over them when they arrived on the conveyer belt and a fellow passenger carrying a cloth suitcase was giving Konkani gallis to Jet  as his cloth suitcase was completely ruined.  The below picture will give you an idea of the oil on my Delsey.

State of of Delsey upon arrival in Goa - check out the wet oil marks


Our return flight to Kuwait was on 11th May 2012 at 8:30pm by Air-India and I must say it was a completely different experience.  Somebody from the airline called me a day earlier and wanted to know if we were definitely traveling, and I confirmed in the affirmative and asked her if Air-India was surely going, as the pilots had gone on strike a couple of days earlier, to which she laughed and said, yes of course, but we will advice you if there is any change in the schedule. 

Having not heard from Air India again, we went to the airport keeping our fingers crossed and hoping that not all pilots will be on strike, so imagine our surprise when the flight arrived on time from Chennai and departed 10 minutes early for Kuwait.  Although the departure time was 8:30pm, we left at 8:20pm, 10 minutes early (must have been a fluke) and to top it all, we landed 26 minutes early in Kuwait.  Being Goa passengers, our luggage which had gone in last, came out first and we were out in a Jiffy.

It’s worth mentioning that the service on board was nice and food served by Air-India was creditable.  My non-veg tray included: a water bottle, salad, main course of rice, chicken and vegetable, a dessert, salt, pepper, toothpick, coffee creamer, sugar and the choice of tea or coffee.  The drinks offered were similar to Jet, but the additional packet of peanuts is something all passengers cherish and I was even offered two.
Air India - Yeah, I was offered 2 drinks before dinner

Dinner on Air India - at least it looks good

Having flown both airlines, I believe that if you are traveling with women and children it might be a little difficult on Jet, as it is too hectic and rushed.  You are all the time tense about making it in time to catch the Goa flight from Mumbai, unless of course you break your journey in Mumbai and catch the afternoon flight. In such a case, Jet would be a cheaper option. 

I would love to hear from passengers who have traveled on this sector. 

Julio Cardoso


Lloyd dsouza said...

Julio I'm surprised at ur blog I'm a freq flyer on jet have had good experiences but recently been hearing from others too that jet is going down its a pity 1. The food is really something 2. Your luggage getting oiled wow u must be really upset.

You have to make an official complain and then tell us how they handle your complain I believe you can claim compensation for damaged baggage please claim it

I'm worried now on to travel on jet

Yzer said...

Hey Julio. Thanks for sharing this review! I run, and am always looking for quality info to share with our readers, to give them a feel for what it's like to fly with the airlines. I've linked to this post from our Air Mumbai Mumbai page. Please keep up the great writing!

Julio Cardoso said...

Thanks Yzer. Glad the review was useful. Checked out your page, it's nice.

screwman said...

Julio I pretty well agree with your review of Jet Airways and I have been traveling with them off and on from 2002 onwards.I must say the experience has been from bad to worse to worst...and more...there are no superlatives left for the 'BAD'. I have countless experiences to recount of my ordeals with Jet airways not to mention I have a frequent flier Jet privilege card and their ground crew as well as inflight service has been pathetic.The ground staff is totally arrogant considering they are the only private airline left around doing business to domestic and international sectors, the rest of them have gone down or are on their way out and I am speaking about Esat west airlines, Damania Airways,Air Deccan ,Sahara and the like which were good in their own steam and were vying for passenger comfort and loyalty.The question you may ask is why Jet airways and not any others, I must say its due to no options available wherein Jet airways just decides that they can do whatever they want and give passengers a harrowing time no matter that they are the source of their income and profits and also pay the staff their salaries.I have been using both domestic and International sectors on Jet Airways and I must say that they choose the worst service and food when it comes to Gulf sectors.I will detail on this some time later on but then I must say I am pleasantly surprised tir India is offering good service.Worth trying some time.Till next time...Cheers.

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komal verma said...

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