After two excellent Mileage Mentor MasterClass workshops in Mumbai, it was time to head to Delhi for our first one ever in Delhi NCR. On any other day, I would’ve flown Jet Airways but considering my schedule, Air India’s AI 348 looked like the best option to get out of town. We’ve already reviewed the Air India 787-8 Business Class, so here is a review of the 787-8 Economy Class
Air India operates a lot of international flights with domestic legs. Back in my college days, my favourite flight home was the Mumbai-Hyderabad flight on the Boeing 747-400 which flew onwards to Jeddah. This particular flight was going to fly to Shanghai and was on a Boeing 787-8.
As I wasn’t flying business class or was an Air India / Star Alliance elite, I decided to arrive at the airport two hours early. Surprisingly, the check-in queues didn’t look too long. I punched in my PNR as well as my Avianca LifeMiles credentials in one of the many kiosks at Terminal 2 and got my boarding pass.
Air India has recently introduced support for self-check-in kiosks which generate baggage tags as well. However, when I tried this facility, I could only get a baggage tag for just one bag. So, I had to head to the counter to check-in all my bags the old-fashioned way.
The check-in queues moved slowly as not a lot of counters were open (nothing unusual there, this was Air India). It was a 20-minute wait before I could finally drop my bags. Now, how do you know if you are on an international tagged flight? Just look for alphabet ‘D’ printed on your boarding pass in big bold fonts.
Getting airside on these flights is a bit different. Terminal 2 has a separate security area located on the extreme left side of the terminal, usually used for priority security for business/first class passengers, which is used for the domestic tag flights as well. Follow the signs, and you should be able to find the place in no time.
Once screened, you clear the immigration checkpoint where you may have to present a photo ID to get your boarding pass stamped. Don’t worry you don’t need a passport. A driving license or any other government-issued photo ID works fine.
While I was walking down to the Loyalty Lounge there, I suddenly realised that I forgot to carry my physical Priority Pass. Rookie mistake. About time I get a Diner Club credit card where the credit card doubles up as the lounge card. I did the next best thing and went to Starbucks instead.
By the time I arrived at the gate, boarding had already begun. A couple of minutes later, I was inside the plane. The first thing I noticed was how spacious the cabin was! I have flown on Air India’s 787s before, but after dozens of flights on Jet Airways’ 737s, the extra space and the red upholstery was refreshing.
Air India AI 348
Mumbai CSIA Terminal 2 (BOM) – Delhi IGI Airport Terminal 3 (DEL)
Friday, September 21, 2018
Departure: 07:45 AM
Arrival: 10:06 AM
Duration: 2:21 hours
Aircraft: Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner
Seat: 32G (Economy Class)
Meal Service: Breakfast
I headed down the aisle to my seat where a blanket and a set of headphones were already waiting for me. The headphones were not of outstanding quality, but the blanket was good enough for me, especially compared to the muslin cloth-ish ones you get on other airlines. The seat was comfortable with a 33” seat pitch.
We pushed back at around 7:40 AM, about 15 minutes before the scheduled departure time and taxied to the main runway. Within a couple of minutes, we were airborne.
While we climbed up to the cruising altitude, I browsed through the In-Fight Entertainment selection on their screens. The options were limited, but there was enough variety for a two-hour long flight. Same content stretched to a 9-hour international flight? Not enough. Air India has seatback screens to deliver content on their global operations.
Twenty minutes into the flight, breakfast service started. Air India, for some time now, has been serving only vegetarian meals on domestic flights. But with this flight being an International tagged flight, there was a non-vegetarian option as well. I got to eat some eggs and sausages after all! Tea & Coffee was served as well.
The restrooms were clean and were stocked with some skin lotion and mouthwash. Even after all these years, I still marvel at the smart lavatories on these planes with all those cool sensors.
I headed back to my seat, wrapped myself up with the blanket and dozed off. About 45 minutes later, a cabin crew member woke me up as she was preparing the cabin for landing.
The descent was smooth, and once on the ground, I hiked to pick up my luggage. Here too you’ll need to get a stamp from the immigration officials at dedicated counters, to signify that you are a domestic passenger before you clear the immigration area and arrive in the luggage area to pick up your bags. 30 minutes after landing, I was out of the terminal and hopped into a cab.
My experience aboard Air India’s 787 was a pleasant one. The seats were great, the food was good, and the service wasn’t bad either. There were no fireworks, but at the same time, nothing was terrible, at least for a 2-hour flight.
On the ground though, the experience was forgettable. The check-in lines weren’t properly managed (This is India after all). The boarding process was a bit haphazard and twenty minutes for the bags to arrive is a bit too long.
Overall I’ll choose flying on this product over a narrowbody jet on domestic flights on any given day if I had the opportunity.
What are your thoughts on Air India’s 787 in Economy Class? Have you flown them yet?