Airline: Air India Express
Route: Sharjah, UAE (SHJ) – Varanasi,India (VNS)
Flight: IX184 (VT-AXQ)
Aircraft: Boeing B737-800
…and there was that time of the year, when I traveled to India again. This time it was famous city of Varanasi (if you don’t know it, just google any documentary about India and Varanasi will surely appear there).
The only option of direct flight between UAE and Varanasi was flight from Sharjah Airport with Air India Express. Though I heard a lot about this low cost offshoot of national carrier Air India (and mostly it wasn’t anything good), it opted for it rather than having to connect via another airport.
Sharjah airport is a small airport handling mostly low cost airline Air Arabia, low cost airline and many cargo flights (great spot for aviation geeks to see some uncommon planes and companies).
Boarding was done from remote parking gate by bus. Sorry, but no matter what I could not squeeze the entire plane into the photo.
Upon boarding and reaching my seat at the overawing exit, the thing that you notice first, is a quite worn out state of the cabin. I mean honestly the gap between seat pan and the seat back was so large, that I could see feet of the fella sitting behind me.
At least the leg room was decent and since the row behind mine was not an emergency exit row, I could recline my seat.
During the taxi out and take off I wanted to take some pics through the window, but yeah, I wasn’t very successful due to large suspicious oily stain from inside with some hair stuck to it….yuck. But at least one pic for all of ya :).
With bit of a look around one got to realize that cleanliness was a major issue on this flight with spills over the seat area. Here is one (till today I hope it was milk or any kind of UNdigested food):
On the positive note, unlike low cost airline in the west, Air India Express offers free snack box and small bottle of water included in the ticket price. It was given out by bit disinterested crew, trying to get a job done ASAP.
I found safety card interesting as it appeared to be just a simple A4 paper laminated in the nearby xerox shop, but hey, it serves its purpose.
It terms of entertainment, as expected, there was not much to be done, so I spent this 2:30hrs flight by reading a book that kept collecting the dust on the shelf in my house for the past year (yeah, I knew it would come handy).
Approach into VNS airport, but not too good picture due to that above mentioned oily thingy on the window.
Pulling up to the gate and parking next to this Airbus bound for Delhi.
All in all, yes, flight was very cheap and got me from point A to point B safe and on time, but I would rather sacrifice free meal for a clean seat. Will I use them again? Yes, but only if they are the only other option. The whole experience got me thinking about whole protectionism of Indian government towards their airlines. Maybe some of their airlines feel too comfortable to care and its the passenger, who is punished at the end of the day.