Be sure to check out parts 1-6 first!

-Part 1 (Chicago-Istanbul) CLICK HERE!

-Part 2 (Istanbul-Singapore) CLICK HERE!

-Part 3 (Singapore-Male) CLICK HERE!

-Part 4 (Male-Rangali Island, Conrad) CLICK HERE!

-Part 5 (Dr. I Getting His Robinson Crusoe on in The Maldives) CLICK HERE!

-Part 6 (Rangali Island-Male) CLICK HERE!

 

FLIGHTS #6 AND 7: MALE (Velana)-Thiruvananthapuram-Delhi

Aviation Geek Details:

  • Airline and flight number: Air India flight # AI264
  • Route: Male (Velana)-Thiruvananthapuram-Delhi
  • Aircraft: Airbus A320
  • Airplane (registration and year built):VT-EXT, built in 2017
  • Miles flown:
    • 434 miles Male-Thiruvananthapuram
    • 1,451 miles Thiruvananthapuram-Delhi.
  • Flight duration:
    • 58 minutes Male-Thiruvananthapuram
    • 2 hours and 59 minutes Thiruvananthapuram-Delhi
  • Class of Service and Seat: Business, seat 2A
  • This is my: 678th  and 679th flight on 95 airlines.
  • This is my: 3rd and 4th  flights on Air India
  • This is my: 60th and 61st flights on an Airbus A320.

The Routing:

Male-Thiruvananthapuram

 

Thiruvananthapuram-Delhi

 

Well, with a big, cardboard Maharaja greeting us, we knew we were in the right place!

 

Clearly Business Class wasn’t full. I thought the offer of $150 for a Business Class upgrade all the way to Delhi was pretty decent.

 

Thanks to short security and immigration lines we had a few minutes to indulge in a little retail therapy on the other side.

 

I wouldn’t be a typical American tourist if I didn’t buy an “I love the Maldives” tee-shirt so of course, I bought an “I love the Maldives” tee-shirt. Judge me if you will!

 

Departures and Arrivals board. Of course Maldivian, the national airlines of the Maldives, has the biggest presence at Velana airport.

 

We made a quick stop at the Air India contract lounge, the Leeli lounge. Fast wifi, clean bathrooms, and pretty decent food along with…

 

nice tarmac views including this Doha bound Qatar Airways Airbus A350, made the lounge a pleasant place to spend a few hours.

 

30 minutes before our scheduled departure time we headed to the gate where VT-EXT, a 2017 built Airbus A320 was waiting.

 

There are no airbridges at Velana airport which meant my inner aerophile had his day made by boarding via the airstairs. Boarding was expedited by using the front and rear entrances.

 

The Business Class seats were kind of meh at best. Each seat had a pillow waiting and…

 

well, not much else. There wasn’t even an in-flight magazine in the seat pocket, only an old newspaper, and the safety card.

 

The seats were wide and soft but they lacked adjustable headrests or built-in legrests, only these tiny footrests in the seat in front were available to help you stretch out a bit. Kind of disappointing for a new airplane.

 

I enjoyed the tarmac views as people continued to board. The Qatar Airways A350 was clearly still enjoying the tropical Maldivian sunshine before heading back to the desert sunshine.

 

With no magazine or fleet page to check out, I quickly reviewed the safety information card (see, I really am a good flyer) while…

 

the cabin crew distributed hot towels and…

 

bottled water.

 

Right on-time the boarding doors were closed, we pushed off of the hard stand and made our way to the active thresh-hold. After a 35-second takeoff roll, we were airborne for the short 58-minute hop to Thiruvananthapuram.

 

The service on this less than 1-hour flight was actually pretty impressive and included branded linens.

 

The views over the Indian ocean were spectacular and they almost made up for the lack of audio or video entertainment.

 

Beverage orders were taken and of course, I went for a Coke (since they already had given us water bottles).

 

The meal service was substantial for such a short flight. The tray included two sandwiches, a chicken dish with a savory pastry side, yogurt and chocolate cake.

 

After the meal service, I continued to sit back and enjoy the views while…

 

coffee and tea were offered.

 

Soon the pitch of the engines changed and we were starting our descent into Thiruvananthapuram.

 

You can see the Beemapally suburb of Thiruvananthapuram and it’s famous pink mosque…

 

known as the Beemapally Dargah Shareef. I may just have to come back to Thiruvananthapuram to see this bad boy from ground level.

 

After a smooth landing, we made our way to the hardstand where about 50 people disembarked before the cleaning crew boarded to get the plane ready for the flight to Delhi.

 

We parked next to an IndiGo Airbus A320 that was soon replaced by…

 

an Air Arabia Airbus A320.

 

After boarding was completed, the crew distributed hot towels followed by…

 

a choice of water or orange juice.

 

We pushed off of the hard stand a few minutes early and with minimal traffic made our way to the runway and started our 40-second takeoff roll. Apparently one of the cabin crew members forgot to secure the service cart which rolled out of the storage area hitting the wall with a very loud bang as we were taking off.

 

As we reached 10,000 feet…

 

the cabin lights came on giving me the opportunity to take a proof of life pic with the Maharaja.

 

The dinner service started with beverage orders,…

 

and glasses of still water.

 

Again the Air India branded linens were used.

 

And this was the Business Class dinner service. I am 100% certain this was an Economy Class meal placed on a Business Class tray. The portions were small and the meal was by-and-large flavorless, which is a difficult feat for Indian food!

 

I most certainly would not brag about preparing this meal y’all!

 

The dinner service was capped off with a coffee and tea service after which the lights were dimmed. I figured this would be a good time to get a bit of shut eye.

 

With no blankets (to be fair I think there were a few to be provided on request), minimal seat recline, no adjustable headrest, and no leg support/footrest, sleep totally evaded me. So with nothing to read or watch, I just listened to my iTunes playlist and closed my eyes.

 

Before landing, I decided to stretch my legs and checkout steerage. Pretty basic Airbus A320 cabin, nothing special.

 

We landed a few minutes ahead of schedule and made our way to a remote stand which meant a nice bus ride to the terminal. Delhi airport is hopping at this time of night with multiple domestic, middle-eastern, Asian and European flights soon to be departing.

 

We cut through the Delhi Duty-Free shop on our way to the Silver Kris lounge that SWISS uses in Delhi. I thought it was kind of odd that SWISS used the Singapore Airlines lounge and not the Lufthansa lounge but either way, we had a place to park ourselves and chill while waiting for our flight to Zurich to board.

 

Check out the full flight video right here!:

 

Flight Review:

  • Experience/Total stars: Needs Improvement/ 2.3 out of 5 stars. The only saving graces for these flights were the cabin crew and the meal service on the first leg.
  • Check-in: 5/5. Excellent. Polite staff, quick process, checked bags all the way through to Chicago.
  • Lounge: 4/5. Pretty solid contract lounge with good food, fast wifi, and clean bathrooms.
  • Boarding: 3/5. Pretty average.
  • Seat: 1/5. Seats were wide and soft but lacked adjustable headrests, builtin footrests, as well as audio or video entertainment
  • In-Flight Entertainment: 0/5. There was nothing. No audio, no video and no magazines.
  • Meals: 1/5. The meal on the first leg was impressive the but the meal on the longer leg to Delhi killed any culinary good will.
  • Cabin Crew: 5/5. Friendly and proactive.
  • Cabin ambiance: 3/5. Pretty average, nothing stood out either way.
  • Cabin cleanliness: 4/5. No complaints, the cabin was clean.
  • Price paid and value for money: N/A, these were award flights.
  • Thumbs up: Great cabin crew, good meal service on the shorter leg.
  • Thumbs down: Bad seats, no in-flight entertainment and horrible meal service on the longer leg to Delhi.

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