Review: Air India A320-2, Male – Trivandrum

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We were originally scheduled to fly from Male, Maldives to New Delhi, India on an Air India Airbus 320 in regional business class via Bangalore. At about fourteen days before the flight, we were hit with a schedule change cancellation. Our ticket was booked as an Aeroplan Business Class Award, and they only offered existing available reward space to chose from. If we wanted to keep the same date of travel, we would end up having to downgrade to an economy flight and re-route via Trivandrum and Chennai. Since we were on a bit of a schedule, we accepted the re-route and the downgrade.


This post is one chapter on our third Round the World trip via South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, the Maldives and India. This trip was redeemed through Air Canada’s Aeroplan and through Starwood Preferred Guest (Marriott Bonvoy) and Hyatt Gold Passport (World of Hyatt) loyalty programs. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Review: Air India A320-2, Male – Trivandrum

“Air India is the newest entrant to Star Alliance airline network. We used them for a quirky International short haul flight between The Maldives and India, experiencing delays, messy aircraft and great views out the window”

We headed down to the gate from The Leeli Lounge Male, after waiting away flight delays in the lounge. We were about two hours and twenty nine minutes late by this particular point, having had a 3:30 AM wake up from the Park Hyatt Maldives. It was fair to say that it was already a long day.

Our Air India A320 arriving to gate in Male
Air India Departure Signs at MLE
Boarding on the Apron at Male Nasir Ibrahim
Air India
Economy Class (Single Class of Service)
MLE – TRV (Ibrahim Nasir International Airport – Thiruvananthapuram International Airport)
AI264 – Economy Class (X) 
Scheduled: 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM
Actual: 1:20 PM – 3:00 PM
April 14, 2015
Booked: Airbus 319
Flown: Airbus 320-2

On Board Air India:

On board the plane, they had us board by the rear of the aircraft using stairs. It was my first Air India flight of several and there are no mistaking the company colors. Everything is red and orange. 

Air India Single Class of Service Economy Cabin
Economy Class Seating
Air India Economy Class Seating
Air India A320 Economy Class Cabin

They had ripped out rows 1-4 on the right hand side of the plane to accommodate a flat medical stretcher. The ground agents spent about 15 minutes attempting to board the medical condition patient that seemed to have a severe leg injury. In hind sight, I suspect this was the reason why we had a two and a half hour delay. Our plane was performing double duty as an international medi-vac. The rows two to four on the right side of the cabin were completely missing thanks to the stretcher spot.

Air India Medi-Vac

On closer examination of the Airbus 320, it was a really old model. It was actually really filthy and hadn’t had a good clean in a while. It probably won the award for the dirtiest plane I’ve ever been on. I don’t mean the odd dust ball. I mean the entire thing needed a deep clean scrub. There were left over newspapers and water bottles from the past flight left in the seats on our arrival, fixtures and tables were covered in deep seated dirt, and fasteners were worn and tired. The seats were also filthy! I wasn’t completely put off by the experience. Rather, I just note that it was a stark difference from many other carriers that I’d flown on where a reasonable attempt at cleanliness was made.

Dusty Seats
Worn Seatback Holders

Departing the Maldives:

We finally departed the Maldives on the sole Maldivian runway 36 N. The airport only has one runway and no taxi ways. On the climb out, I took some photographs of the Sheraton Full Moon Resort Maldives which is getting ever closer to the man made island. It seems as though there is a massive land reclamation project that is underway and the islands are almost attached – at least almost attached by Maldivian standards. Take a look a the right hand side of this sandy photograph…

The Sheraton Full Moon Maldives is getting closer and closer to another reclaimed island
North Male Maldivian Atolls on the Climb to Altitude
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The Meal: A Lunch

Lunch was served on this short 90 minute international leg. Today’s Air India food offering was a chicken curry, with rice and an unidentified yellow sauce that my palate was not able to easily identify for lunch.

Chicken Curry Lunch

Arriving to Trivandrum, India:

After the lunch service, we were on approach to Trivandrum. It was a quick right turn in to the airport on the coast. The spotting was really great from the window as there were some great churches on the sea board which would have been really interesting to visit. 

On Short Final: Trivandrum’s Beaches

As we landed at Trivandum, we stayed on board for the 45 minute stopover. A good number of local travelers got off. The military boarded to conduct a carry on bag inspection and asked all travelers to identify which bags were theirs. The check was quite through and I spotted them checking the bathrooms and tapping on all the cabinetry. The plane was also groomed and vacuumed.

Staying on Board on our Trivandrum Stopover

Our experience on Air India A320 International Short Haul:

It was my first Air India flight. To be realistic, I wasn’t expecting all to much. Our flight was very late (well over 2.5 hours), the plane wasn’t super clean, and the flight lacked the usual amenities that you’d get on an International service with some of the more major carriers in Asia Pacific that usually feature wide body jets. Despite this, we got to our destination in the end, and also had unique flying experience that was quirky, fun and once in a lifetime.


If you’ve flown Air India Short Haul, was your experience as quirky as ours?

2 Comments on “Review: Air India A320-2, Male – Trivandrum

  1. It seems a common occurrence for Air India to cancel or re-schedule. I paid for a direct flight between New Delhi and Mumbai from their website and it was only after I got my boarding passes then I realized the flight was changed to an indirect flight with a stopover in Aurangabad, and there was a plane change from a 787 to an A320 as well.

    At least you got a prior notification. For my case, the check-in agent did not even notify me, and I only noticed something was different after seeing the boarding pass. It is no wonder Air India has very negative reviews overall when a low cost carrier (IndiGo) has much better planes and sticks to schedule.

    Like

    • Yikes.

      Going from a 787 to a 320 is a pretty large downgrade. At least you happened to be going between cities with fairly regular frequencies; stopover not withstanding.

      Thanks for reading and sharing your experience.

      Like

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