Review: Air India A320-2, Trivandrum – Chennai


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, Trivandrum – Chennai

“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”

After flying Air India Male – Trivandrum, and having a short technical stop in Trivandrum, we were about ready to get going again.

On Board Air India:

For those that are just joining us, our flight was in a single class of service aircraft, with the usual economy class 3-3 configuration. The red and gold colors were really prevalent through the flight, and made a very strong color statement.

Air India A320 Economy Class
Air India Economy Class A320
Air India A320 Main Cabin

Departing Trivandrum:

At about one hour behind schedule, we departed Trivandrum. Again it was another seaborne departure and a nice view of the coast line. We flew over some really rural hills on our climb to altitude.

Departing Trivandrum
Views of the Trivandrum Coastline
Greener Landscapes on the Climb

The Meal: A Snack

We were served an additional snack. I wasn’t expecting all too much as this was the continuation of our earlier Air India Male – Trivandrum flight that carried the same flight number. This time, the meal service was a cello wrapped sandwich along with a piece of fruit cake. Air India was quite through with the protective saran wrap as it was featured on almost all of their in flight catering. It went a little ways to relieve any concerns about eating contaminated food. By the time our fifth Air India flight came around, I was tearing into these wrapped snack offerings without a second thought. 

A Cello Wrapped Snack & Fruit Cake

The in flight meal featured promotional material of Air India Bazaar. Every sheet was a winner. We were directed to scratch off the portion to claim your rice cooker or sari at a discount. Just pay the shipping and handling fee with Western Style Delta Airlines Sky Mall pricing.

Air India Bazaar Buy on the Go Promotional Sheet

We kept the same seats for this leg and had an empty one next to us in the 3 – 3 configuration. 

In Flight Entertainment:

Looking at the In Flight Magazine

Passing the time, I looked at the air map. It was a little different in that Air India doesn’t really use the hub and spoke method commonly found in Europe or North America. Instead, the routes look more like a rail map with lines going out everywhere. Every flight is a milk run. I initially thought that there would be easy traffic between the Maldives and Delhi or Mumbai. If Emirates, Ethiad and Singapore Airlines can bring people from around the world to the Maldives, then Air India would be likely to get in on that action as well? Right? Well, it seems that Male isn’t a big market for the populations of North India. It’s not a big market as almost all flights take 2 – 3 stops to get to Mumbai from Male. Even as a hard core mileage runner, I think I’d be crazy to voluntarily try this routing again, it would have been a smoother process to fly Singapore Airlines Maldives – Singapore – Delhi or Sri Lankan from Male – Colombo – Delhi.

Air India Route Map Similar to a Train Map: Stopping Everywhere on the Way
Air India International Route Map

Arriving to Chennai:

We had a quick approach into Chennai. We over flew what appeared to be a Daimler Chrysler factory complete with test track, some western looking luxury apartments, and some smaller Indian homes that didn’t appear to have super clean streets surrounding them. 

Luxury Homes in Chennai
Leafy Compounds as Seen from the Air

We arrived to the gate at about 55 minutes late and disembarked. It was dusty and hot out. We were pretty tired by this slow “direct” flight as well, especially after that 3 AM wake up call. 

Jet Airways B737-8 at Chennai International Airport
Our Air India A320 at the Gate in MAA

Our experience on Air India A320 International Short Haul:

All in, flying Air India was an interesting experience. Our flights were delayed substantially. The food was clean and edible but the planes were downright filthy. The service was just average and things just didn’t seem to run smoothly. Furthermore, the service levels were apathetic regarding the delays. It’s as if the staff and airline have completely given up trying to run any type of on time performance. The worst part was that our journey wasn’t over all just yet as we had yet another leg to get to our final destination. It was, at least, a highly entertaining travel experience.

If you’ve flown Air India, did you find travelling in India as slow as I did?

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