Thailand remains the favorite Indian getaway, with most of us darting towards the beaches regardless of the season. The flight is short and convenient, the visa is on arrival, the parties are insane and it’s cheap as far as vacation spots go. While planning your escape to Thailand, the airline you pick has a significant role to play in your excitement levels pre-trip and comfortable survival of the hangover post-trip. While most people recommend Thai Airways to all and sundry, and now Air India’s dream lines or flying to Bangkok is another blessing, I was cheap enough to pick Jet Airways (as one would expect from a blogger on a budget). To add to that, I have a thriving Jet Airways membership, so I was greedy for the loyalty points. Against better judgement- and due my great tendency for procrastination, I booked two days before I was due to leave. This led to a 12,000 buck difference between Jet and most other airlines, but I was too desperate to give a care. Besides, Jet Airways isn’t a low class carrier (or wasn’t in my eyes, before this big disaster of a flight) so I figured the experience couldn’t be all that bad.
Boy, was I wrong.
It’s a 4 hour flight (from Delhi) that leaves at 2 in the afternoon and lands in Bangkok at 7:45 Thai time. Given that you would be at the airport at least 2 hours in advance (if you’re anything like my mother, you might just be camping there since 9:00 am). Once you land, the visa process takes at least 3 hours on a good day, so by the time you reach your hotel it’s too late to use the evening to party. In effect, you end up completely wasting an entire day of your vacation in transit. You could just as well take a flight that leaves late at night or lands early morning.
The return journey starts at 8:40 am from Bangkok and lands in Delhi at 11:40. It’s a good time to land since the Immigration is a breeze at this time and you could make it to work for the rest of the day without needing to mark leave.
Seating and Space:
The Delhi-Bangkok sector was a peculiar kind of nightmare, owing to the Jet Connect plane they sent across for an international trip. The flight, as one would expect, was packed to the very last seat. If you’ve ever set food in a Jet Connect flight, you know just how cramped it can get inside. The aisle is barely enough to let you pass through without bumping into seats on either side, the boarding and getting off were suffocating because there was no space to breathe as people poured into a narrow isle trying to fit in their bags overhead. My lungs weren’t the only ones struggling for air, as my bum tried to accommodate itself on the tiny seats and my legs just about managed to squeeze themselves in.
Luckily on the way back we didn’t have a Jet Connect plane and were saved in addition by the low volume of travelers on that day.
That’s what you call the 4 hours spent on board a flight that doesn’t have an entertainment system. Yes, Jet Aiways actually operates an international flight without an entertainment system. One might argue that other flights do that as well, but I would like to point out that the only flights who do, are low-cost carriers (namely LCCs) with razor-thin margins and very cheap flights. Transaero was one such airline that flew to Russia and eventually declared bankruptcy- twice.
Thailand might be next door, but 4 hours is a sufficiently long time without an entertainment system. Ideally this should be called out clearly at the time of booking the flight or maybe as a reminder before the trip to carry books or video games (or even a laptop with movies on it) to get through the long, particularly boring hours on the plane.
Food on the flight both ways was quite good, though the options were few. They had one bag on chips distributed to everyone, without any option to pick your snacks. It was strictly take it or leave it.
The only saving grace on board the Jet Airways flight was their crew, happily chatting away with everyone, eagerly helping. They made everyone feel comfortable almost instantly, despite the terrible discomfort Jet had put everyone through.
After landing I complained to their customer relations team via Twitter about the scarcity of blankets and pillows and was clearly told it’s on a first-come-first-serve basis. What I’m still wondering is, if you know your flight is full how difficult could it be to arrange for the exact number of pillows and blankets?
This experience was just as bad as my disdainful flight to Sri Lanka with Jet Airways. As for my Jet Privilege card- I’m tossing it into the bin where it belongs.