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Business travel – BOM-BLR-BOM

September 12, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

A typical daytrip from Mumbai to Delhi/Bangalore/Hyderabad typically goes:

  • Wake up at 5am to get into a chauffeured car at 6am. (The ride to the airport takes 20 minutes at this hour, but 3 hours at peak times)
  • The airline’s valet meets you at the kerb and helps you check in our bags and carries your carry-on to the check in desk (no kidding, I have seen guys use the valet for their laptop case).  Traveling coach is just as painless but there is no valet.
  • The security check at the outer gate is basic; any photo-id will do (takes 30 seconds).
  • The check-in counter takes another 30 seconds and then you are through to the x-ray and security scan.  Everybody keeps their jackets and shoes on and laptops in their bags.  Everybody gets a frisked.  The whole process takes 5 minutes even at busy times.
  • If you are late for your flight, the airline will help you make it but moving you to the front of the line.  This somehow works without too much of a fuss so I have been the beneficiary more than once.
  • When not in such a hurry, you can hang out in the lounge until your plane is boarding.  The lounges are better than US domestic lounges but not as nice as the international airlines’ lounges in European hubs (BA, Virgin, Lufthansa, etc.)
  • Most Indian airports use buses for boarding.  Planes are parked a few hundred meters from the terminal.  Initially, the lack of way-bridges bothered me but now I think the buses are faster than walking the lengths of large airports (30 minutes at Heathrow sometimes).
  • The aircraft are typically A320s and B737s.  Some short-haul flights use Bombardier CRJs and Embraers regional jets but I still have to board one.  In the US, I was flying these increasingly unless I was flying cross-country.
  • Flights are on-time more than 80% of the time (that is pretty good by the way if you arent tracking that sort of thing).  Food and beverage service is top-notch (no alcohol served on board as per regulations).  Smiles and attention to detail abound.   Many pilots are expats since the domestic flight schools have not kept up with demand.  I have seen more female commanders here than anywhere else in the world.
  • The landing process mirrors the efficiency of the boarding.  Bags appeared on claim belts in less than 10 minutes the couple of times I checked bags.
  • Walking out the exit to the landside of the airport takes less than five minutes and you are typically met by the chauffeur of your car (typically hired for the day to take you to business meeting and back to the airport).
  • Now starts the weary part of your day:  the ride to the city center from the airport can take anywhere from an hour (Delhi) to three (Bangalore) – each way!  So you are lucky if you get to your meeting before lunch.   The return trip to the airport needs to start by 4pm so you can make a 8pm flight back to homebase.
  • If you are back in bed by midnight, you have done well.
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Categories: India
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