2019: One Hundred and Thirty Two

Ah, I’m home.

I flew Air India into Bangalore this morning – taking a very early flight to reach home in Whitefield just before 7AM. What an experience that was. Ahmedabad airport has to be one of the strangest airports I’ve ever flown through – especially the international terminal. The last time I was there, and I flew to Dubai, the immigration counter was just for a few hours. As a result, even though I had finished checking-in and I had my boarding pass, I couldn’t go through security checks, nor could I access my boarding gate. Additionally, my friend and I noticed how much better the domestic terminal was in comparison to the international terminal in terms of the food options and vibe generally – you felt more like a traveler in the domestic airport than in the international one, which was something I found odd.

This time, however, the sheer number of flights taking off within the same time-slot caught me off guard. There was a massive, massive rush to get through a baggage X-Ray (a procedure which is inconsistent across airports in India, and probably needs to get relooked at by some authority or the other) because there were 10 international flights operating larger aircraft models, all scheduled to depart within the same 2 hour slot. Most of them were connecting flights with through check-ins, but were distinct codes nonetheless, so the crowd was ridiculous. Coupled with the understaffing at the airport, the experience wasn’t all that great.

However, flying Air India was the best decision I made, flight-wise. The Indian aviation sector has been hit pretty badly after Jet Airways tanked, operations wise (and I spotted a SpiceJet flight running the Jet Airways colourway). As a result, flight prices have skyrocketed, and direct flights connecting popular ports have been affected, with airlines scrambling to target markets and routes on which Jet was popular by introducing stopovers. For example, where Jet operated an Ahmedabad-Hyderabad service, Indigo added a Hyderabad stopover to their Bangalore route – incurring a lower overhead to operate a distinct route.

I can’t do that stopover life, and I’m not willing to pay exorbitant fares to fly. Air India gave me a 50% discount (because I’m a student), flew direct, and allowed 25kg checked baggage. And, it departed on time, gave me some food, and got me safely to my destination. There’s not much else I would have asked for when I chose to fly the airline. I don’t even remember the last time I flew it – I’m guessing somewhere in 2005/06. So coming back, to me, means I’m here to stay.

Landing at home is a beautiful feeling. Every single time.

Meeting people you haven’t met for 4-5 months, but wanted to meet every single day is also indescribable.

Celebrating your birthday one day late with pizza, banoffee pie, great company, and with my semester done?

Priceless.

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