August 3, 2016
The review below was conducted over a year ago. For updated passenger experiences, please read the comments of fellow readers below the article.[/bsu_note]
Last Friday (26th June), I was invited by new regional carrier Air Pegasus on their inaugural flight from Bangalore to Madurai.
Air Pegasus is currently the newest airline in India. It operates flights between its Bangalore hub and Hubli, Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), Cuddapah, and now Madurai.
Kempegowda International Airport (BLR) to Madurai Airport (IXM).
OP 121. Depart 10:40 Arrive 12:00. All times local.
ATR 72-500. VT-APA. Seat 9A.
Check in and Boarding
I reached the airport at around 09:20, just after the morning rush had subsided. Entering the terminal, I quickly saw the poster for the Madurai launch and went to the counter.
The counter staff quickly handed me my boarding pass, which was hand written. I requested them to give me the boarding pass for the return flight as well, since I would be taking the same aircraft back. Unfortunately they were not able to do that, but instead they spoke to their counterparts in Madurai and asked them to keep by boarding pass ready at the counter.
Satisfied, I went through security and proceeded to the Plaza lounge, where I ate a heavy breakfast which I would come to regret later. At 10:20 I proceeded to the gate and onto the bus to the aircraft.
Once we reached the aircraft, many passengers began to take photos of and with the aircraft. Quickly a line formed and boarding commenced through the rear door.
The aircraft is VT-APA, a nine year old aircraft that began life as VT-KAA of Kingfisher. Air Pegasus took delivery of this aircraft late last year.
As I boarded I was welcomed aboard by one of the cabin crew, while second crew member was in the cabin showing passengers to their seats. I was also quickly led to my seat and the aircraft was readied for departure.
Cabin and Service
One of the first things I noticed as I took my seat was how clean the cabin was, the aircraft had just arrived from it’s morning service a half hour before we boarded and yet it was spick and span.
The cabin is laid out in a standard four across – all economy layout. The seats are pretty comfortable and I found the leg room to be sufficient. This aircraft was in storage for some time after Kingfisher imploded and the cabin does still bear the scars of that time. The cabin looks slightly worn out and doesn’t project the new feeling that one would expect from a startup carrier. The airline should have given the aircraft a slight facelift before putting it into service. But these issues were limited only to the cosmetics of the interior, all the equipment in the cabin was working perfectly.
The aircraft quickly pushed back, started up and taxied to the runway. The pilot performed a quick takeoff from the runway intersection and we were off to Madurai.
Shortly after the flight took off one of the crew came around and offered me a glass of water. Then they began the meal service. The airline has a Buy On Board (BOB) food and drink model which includes an option of a meal box containing a sandwich, muffin, and juice. Other options are cashew nuts, etc. While I did not buy any food, I saw that the crew were conducting the meal service very efficiently and with care. They also patiently dealt with a couple of first time flyers a few rows ahead of me. There is no printed menu, so it hampers the service as passengers take time to learn what exactly is available on the plane. This is something the airline must address not just for efficiency but to convey the right image from the word go.
While the service was going on, the captain put on the seatbelt signs and warned us of some turbulence ahead. While the turbulence was not too bad, it was violent enough on occasion to bounce the turbo-prop around, and make me regret my large breakfast. The turbulence continued till the aircraft began it’s descent to Madurai.
The aircraft touched down at five minutes past noon and reached it’s parking spot in just a couple of minutes. Being the first flight, I was surprised that the airport did not organize the traditional water cannon salute to welcome the flight. The passengers quickly disembarked onto the apron. Air Pegasus was using a small Tempo Traveller van to shuttle passengers to the terminal, I’m quite sure this will be replaced by a proper bus shortly. I was slightly anxious because I missed the getting onto the first round of passengers in the van and that I had only 20 minutes to get to the terminal, get my boarding pass, go through security and get back to the aircraft.
Madurai Airport (IXM) to Kempegowda International Airport (BLR).
OP 122. Depart 12:30 Arrive 13:50. All times local.
ATR 72-500. VT-APA. Seat 16F.
Once I got to the terminal, I met the PR reps of Air Pegasus who told me that the return flight would be slightly delayed and I obtained my boarding pass from the check in counter. I walked back through security with a group of Air Pegasus staff taking the flight back to Bangalore.
Boarding was again done with the little Tempo Traveller van and soon I was back on board the aircraft. There seemed to be some confusion with some passengers seat allocations but the ground crew quickly sorted it out and the aircraft was readied for departure. The flight took off at around 13:20, nearly an hour late.
The return flight was similar to the first leg, warm and efficient service by the crew and some slight turbulence. We landed in Bangalore at 14:30 and de-boarding started about five minutes later.
Both my flights with Air Pegasus were good, the airline delivers on it’s promise of efficient regional connectivity and to me looks on track to grow.
The airline can explore offering a small snack and which will improve service times and operational efficiency on the short regional flights. They must ensure their future aircraft cabins are refurbished which will complement the energy and freshness the rest of Air Pegasus’ operations project.
Disclosure: BangaloreAviation was invited by Air Pegasus on this flight, they provided the air tickets for the journey. Air Pegasus or its affiliates did not review, or revise this article prior to publication. Our views remain independent and our own.
All pictures are copyright of Vedant Agarwal and are used with permission, all rights reserved. Please do not reproduce in any form.