I have been away from all the aviation events for a very long time. I had cancelled a visit to Hyderabad for Aero India in 2020 with the onset of Covid and a few days before that I had to cancel a visit to Delhi to be present at the unveiling of B789 of Vistara due to a situation at home. The pandemic also kept me away from flying for a whooping 1031 days! When the opportunity presented itself to visit Toulouse, I grabbed it with both hands. It is no secret that my favourite aircraft has been the Airbus A320 and past attempts to visit Toulouse have not yielded results, largely due to not being able to convince TW to visit Toulouse. This trip was possible due to an invitation from Airbus to attend the Airbus Summit 2022.
The trip would involve seven flights, each with its own significance and thus worthy of a trip report. I am covering this in three reports. This one giving background and the IndiGo codeshare flight from Pune to Bengaluru, the next would be from Bengaluru to Toulouse via Paris CDG on Air France and the last would cover the flights from Munich to Pune via Paris CDG and Delhi.
Days leading up to the flight The IndiGo codeshare
I got two PNRs, one which was for Air France and Air India and another for IndiGo. The IndiGo one was never recognised by the IndiGo website. This meant that I could not block a seat. I reached out to the IndiGo social media team, tried a dummy booking to see which sub-fleet of A321neo is operating and requested for 19A to be blocked. It was to be an emergency seat.
IndiGo’s OTP had started looking up in the winter schedule and I kept tracking this rotation for a while. Simple one with Bengaluru – Ahmedabad – Bengaluru – Vizag – Bengaluru – Pune – Bengaluru – Goa – Bengaluru on most days and had long ground times, ensuring on-time flights. The situation was no different on the day of travel.
Amongst the many things I have missed during the pandemic, a ride on the A321neo of IndiGo ranks high (also the ATR). The equipment continued to be A321, presumably to take on the competition with Vistara and now Akasa Air entering the route.
Day of Departure – Airport experience and boarding
My inbound Air France flight was over an hour into its departure from Paris when I left home. IndiGo’s A321 was resting on the ramp at Bengaluru, having arrived from Vizag. I reached the airport at 1745 hrs. Anybody who has visited the Pune airport agrees it is not worthy of being called an airport but I like it just for the fact that you can literally do kerb to gate in as fast as 10 mins at off-peak hours. The off-peak hours at Pune are not in line with business but in line with when the Indian Air Force allocates slots! In this case, there was only one IndiGo flight in the next hour and that meant – empty counters. The check-in team was efficient and I had three boarding passes in hand with baggage checked all the way to Toulouse. Security was a breeze – thanks largely to flights of Go FIRST and SpiceJet being delayed.
The incoming flight was before time and a minute before boarding time I noticed the IndiGo staff setting up an earpiece and mic – something I saw for the first time. Zone wise boarding was announced and it was a bus boarding – first for me at Pune in so many years of flying.
Seat 19A was not an emergency window since the aircraft was swapped for today from a 232 seater to 222 seater.
Service and food
We pushed back at 1908, good 12 mins ahead of departure time and taxied to runway two seven. Without any arrival in sight, it was time to power up and take off. Time to Bengaluru was one hour and ten minutes. We were airborne at 19:21. Meal service started soon and the usual experience with the airline in the last five flights has been that it is very slow. This was no exception. Meals were still being served when the pilot announced the start of descent.
I had requested Vegan Meal to Air France (more on that later) and IndiGo had IVML printed on my boarding pass. It consisted of a Spinach Corn sandwich and Banana cake along with a cold drink.
We landed on runway zero nine L at 20:30 hours and taxied to a remote bay. Bengaluru wasn’t very busy at that time of the day with many bays empty.
Arrivals and transfer
The buses were ready and the over a kilometer long road journey at Bengaluru airport came to an end at arrivals 07. With luggage checked in, I opted to go through transfers but there is a catch. If you have a connection longer than 120 mins, then one is asked to exit and re enter. Likewise for domestic connections, those within 90 mins can go via transit security – others need to go out and enter via transfers. We have serious process issues to become big hubs. While I had a long connection, I also had the boarding pass with me and that helped me clear via transfers.
On the other side, Air France did not have its counters open as expected. Limited international flights were open at this time. My past experience at Bengaluru showed that immigration would not accept passengers this early. Have things changed or not yet? I was about to find out
Website: Not great for codeshare flights (0/5)
On-Time: Before time! (5/5)
Food: Can do better (4/5)
Service: Needs improvement (3/5)
IFE, Internet, Charging points: Does not exist
Aircraft: VT-IUC (Delivered May 2019); Pratt & Whitney power plants on the A321neo
Flight: AF3344 / 6E6055
2 thoughts on “Flying the Air France code share flight of IndiGo”
Good article. I think the airports should start allowing the connecting flight passengers (especially the international ones) at the earliest irrespective of time, but I think they don’t want to add a burden on Immigration staff who are lined up based on the flight timing. I just wanted to understand two things,
1. Are the meals provided on an indigo part of your itinerary or have you booked it separately? I have a similar situation, but can’t book either seat or food for a domestic connecting flight from DEL to BLR after I land from LHR into DEL on Virgin Altlantic.
2. If there is enough time for the connecting flight, will Indigo allow us to prepone the domestic leg of the journey to a prior one rather than waiting for the upcoming flights at the check-in counters in Delhi where we resubmit our luggage after customs?
Meals were provided on the IndiGo flight without booking. The website did not allow booking, anyways!
2. The airline will take that call based on availability / timing. You will not be able to push for it or do it before hand