GoAir, while it has been the lazy born of Indian aviation, finally started taking strides into international flights last year, with the launch of their flights to Phuket. Phuket was an interesting choice of a destination, given no airline was operating direct flights between India and Phuket before, and it was also one of Vistara’s choice of destinations for their first international flights. As soon as GoAir launched, IndiGo followed as well.
Like I mentioned earlier, I wanted to fly a full-service carrier to Phuket, but it did not work out for more reasons than one. Hence, I booked the GoAir flights eventually. Here is my GoAir Phuket Flight Review.
GoAir Mumbai to Phuket Preflight
GoAir’s IT is pretty messed up, remember, so they have not invested in the appropriate systems for a lot of things. For example, for seat selection, I had to call GoAir and purchase the seats on the phone, rather than being able to do so on the app or website. I figured this was an overnight flight, so I’d purchase some of their extra-legroom seats to ensure that we had enough leg space. Here is the rate card for their seats.
Given the lack of a working seat map on the site, there was a lot of asking other people and guessing going around before I could get it right. You see, Row 1 and 2 are GoBusiness with the middle-seat blocked. Row 3 is just a standard row with no extra legroom, so I don’t know why it sells at a premium except for getting out first of the airplane, in which case, it could be sold for the same price as Row 4. Row 12 is the non-reclining Emergency Exit row, but no one tells you that before you spend the money. Good for us we took Row 13 then. The process was completed on the phone, and a payment link was sent to me to collect the difference.
Subsequently, I discovered again I could not check-in online as well, given the airline wanted to do a document check before handing over the boarding pass. But they did want to sell me an upgrade to GoBusiness for another INR 7,400 on the app, as I was walking into the airport. Unless the seat is different, no thanks GoAir.
As a point of note, boarding passes that are printed outside the airport are anyways swapped for physical boarding passes at all Indian airports, so if they have bigger plans for their operations abroad, they will do well to make the right IT decisions right now.
GoAir has all their international flights operating out of Mumbai’s Terminal 2. Given the plane was scheduled to depart at about 1:25 AM, and there were no lounges to explore, Shipra, and I arrived at the airport only at about 11:00 PM and headed to Gate 7, which is closer to the aisle where GoAir counters are.
Remember, this is peak hour at Mumbai airport, but things have been quiet since Jet Airways has been out of action. It was not very hard to look for the GoAir counter; it was the one which was mostly empty. Understandable, given they only have one flight departing at this hour, and a 180-seater does not take as long the queues as a widebody.
GoAir had five counters open, and things moved pretty quick around here. Although Shipra and I both were carrying just big 22″ cabin bags, we did not want to lug them around the airport, so we just checked them in to spare ourselves the bother. Subsequently, we headed for security and immigration check, which was pretty quick given the low number of people at the airport, in spite of it being peak hour. It took us about 20 minutes in total to cross through to the secure holding area.
Since I was travelling with friends and lots and lots of their kids in this bunch, we skipped a trip to the Loyalty Lounge and headed to the kids play area instead to catch up with everyone. I did quickly realise that since I had skipped dinner in the process of getting to the airport, I had to grab a bite before the flight, so for the first time since the Terminal opened, since 2014, I headed to the food court to buy myself a burger to go. I also stocked up on some water bottles from the self-vending machine given I was not hoping to pay many times the price once on board the plane.
The flight was boarding from Gate 69, and as we arrived, GoAir was organising the queues to board everyone. There was pre-boarding for those with infants, and subsequently, everyone else was allowed to board. Again, a mostly smooth process.
GoAir G8 21
Mumbai (BOM) – Phuket (HKT)
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Departure: 01:25 AM
Duration: 4 Hours
Arrival: 06:55 AM
Aircraft Type: Airbus A320Neo
Seat: 13F (Economy/Emergency Exit)
Meal Service: Buy on Board
Once on board the aircraft, I saw a very familiar cabin and nothing new practically. Here is a look at the GoBusiness + GoAir economy cabin.
Like you notice, I was right in not paying for the GoBusiness label because it is just a label. GoBusiness is IndiGo Prime or SpiceMax with an empty middle seat, a seat for which they want you to pay by marking up the price. All you get is a meal item from the cart, and a separate baggage counter. The seats are as wafer-thin as they get.
Here is a look at the cabin behind the emergency exit.
The thought process behind taking the emergency exit row was simple, to get as much space for the nightcap on the plane. Here was my seat.
And it turned out to be a good decision since I got some extra room to stretch out. On a standard seat, GoAir has about 29 inches of legroom. It was a little bit more for me.
The flight was completely packed to the brim, given it was the start of the long weekend. Water was served to those who asked for it, and soon enough, we were ready to take off. Doors closed a few minutes before time, and we hit the active runway on time for departure.
After takeoff, the cart was brought out quickly for a round of sales to anyone interested. Here is the menu, if you’d like to eat on this flight. Like you can see, you can pay in INR, Thai Baht or US Dollars. In my own experience, GoAir does not do the sandwiches right, and hence I wasn’t counting on them getting it right this time around.
Given it was about 2 AM, however, not many people seemed to have bought anything. Soon enough, I dozed off, only to wake up about 25 minutes before landing, when the captain announced that we were on our final descent.
Phuket’s airport is next to the beach, so it meant we had some lovely views on the way to the touchdown. Phuket is also an Avgeek haven given you could go plane spotting here.
We arrived at the airport about 30 minutes ahead of our scheduled arrival time and were given a stand away from the aerobridges.
On arrival, I noticed a couple of other GoAir planes already docked in. One of these would have arrived from Delhi and another from Bengaluru. Remember, GoAir has a dream plan of connecting 10 Indian cities with Phuket, which I don’t presume will be completed, but 3 is a good start for a virgin route.
Thai Airways does the ground handling for GoAir in Phuket, so we already had Thai Airways buses waiting for us to escort us to the terminal. Once we arrived in the terminal, it took us about 40 minutes to get the Visa on Arrival done, which is the subject of a separate post. When we arrived in the arrival area, our bags had just about hit the belt, and from there, we were on our way to the hotel in the hotel car we had organised earlier.
GoAir is a cheap and quick way to get to Phuket, but their seats are not good enough for a 4 hour+ flight such as this one. Also, when flying GoAir, you would do well to pack a snack beforehand if you’d like to eat on the plane given service is slow, and they don’t accept credit cards on the plane.
However, GoAir has a winner on their hand on this route, given the demand, it has been able to stimulate and, at least around me, I see a lot more people heading to Phuket non-stop now due to direct connectivity.
What has been your experience flying GoAir to Phuket?