Male, Maldives (MLE) to Port Louis, Mauritius (MRU)
I had looked online earlier in the day, and had seen the 15:35 flight was seriously delayed, and since I had to be out of my hotel room by 4pm anyways decided to go to the airport a bit early and see about getting on it. The check-in agent wasn’t too sure how to do it, and had to wait “for a supervisor” which took nearly 45 minutes…and 15 minutes before the door was set to close. Eventually, I got personally escorted through immigration and security by this supervisor, and ended up being one of only two people in business class on the flight! Of course, there was still plenty of time for the obligatory champers before departure:
…and a quick look at the menu.
SriLankan Flight 116 (Originally booked on SriLankan flight 104 at 20:25)
Male, Maldives (MLE) to Colombo, Sri Lanka (CMB)
Departure 15:35, Arrival 17:30 (Delayed – Actual Departure 18:15), Flight Time 1:25
Airbus A320, Registration 4R-ABP, Manufactured 2012
We took off right as the sun was setting below the horizon, making for fantastic views out over the ocean. You can make out some of the islands below the engine as well:
Dinner was quite tasty, and well above what you’ve get on a similar flight in North America:
It was quite a quick flight, and we pulled up to a bus stand in Colombo. A quick run to the transfer desk, and that’s where things went all to hell. First question was if there was still space in business class…yes, there’s only one other person booked. Great, so can you take care of rebooking me since I’m on a business fare? That’s where the problem started. Nobody seemed to know how to do it…and since it was a codeshare flight (I was booked under an Air India flight number) they decided it was not possible – only my travel agent could do it. Had they told me that yesterday when I asked I would have called them! Now, I was two hours before flight time, and their only offer was to pay the “day of” upgrade charge and dispute it later. No amount of convincing would change their mind, despite what their colleague had said. On top of it, it turns out I had no seat assignment – so would be stuck in a middle seat on a completely full flight. UG.
Eventually agreed to pay the US$200 upgrade charge, and fight it out later. Oh, but that requires going outside immigration to the “cashier.” Fine. Got escorted out there, where they played a fine game of bait-and-switch. “Oh, it’s not $200 on code-shares it’s $250!” When I decided it just wasn’t worth it “well, we have already given away your seat in coach. You can stand by, but you might not get back through immigration without a confirmed seat.” They had me…and I had no choice but to pay and get on the flight. Needless to say, the charge is under dispute with American Express now.
Still had an hour to spend in the lounge, where a few Arrack and Diet Cokes calmed the stress, and soon it was time to board.
SriLankan Flight 141
Colombo, Sri Lanka (CMB) to Mumbai, India (BOM)
Departure 23:45, Arrival 2:10, Flight Time 2:25
Airbus A320, Registration 4R-ABL, Manufactured 2004
Economy ended up being completely packed as promised, and there were only two of us in business. You’d almost think I was doing them a favour by taking care of their oversell, but I guess they had other ideas. Oh well – it was sad, because I have grown really fond of Sri Lanka the past several years, but this whole situation left a really bad taste in my mouth. Which, fortunately, was taken care of by a very strange “snack” of fried goodies. Made good friends with the flight attendant, who suggested I try arrack with pineapple juice instead. She was right…delicious!
The really unfortunately thing about this flight is it was my third Sri Lankan flight on an A320, and by far the worst experience. The meal was disappointing, but the plane was even worse. Only three rows of business compared to five on the other planes, and the seats were much worse. Less seat pitch, and no personal tvs at each seat with shows and airshow. Overall, quite a letdown – and not a good final impression of Sri Lankan after the previous two flights had been so good.
Landed in Mumbai on time, and the night of stress had only just begun. I was already less than thrilled not only flying through the night, but doing a 2am to 4am transfer in India. There was a guy waiting in the jetway for me, who escorted me to the transit desk. Which is where stuff got weird. Seems baggage in transit is drama in Mumbai – because you must “identify” your baggage before they will load it on the next flight. This requires going down to the baggage sorting area…but wait, it gets better! You’re not allowed to bring anything into that area. “You can just leave your carry on here.” Um, with a laptop, iPad, passports, and all? No, I won’t be doing that. “But why not?” I eventually came up with a good story that there is “confidential documents” stores on the laptop, that cannot be out of my sight.
Since the baggage area was off limits, but the plane was at a jet bridge…we had a problem. Eventually, a compromise was reached. I would board the flight, and then get escorted off by two armed security guards, who would hold my carryons as we went together down to the baggage loading area on the tarmac and I pointed out my checked bags. They were happy because I couldn’t touch my carry-ons, thus removing any threat in their eyes, and I was happy because at least they were in my sight. Paper raj pleased, I went back up to the plane and we were off!
Air Mauritius Flight 749
Mumbai, India to Port Louis, Mauritius
Departure 4:00, Arrival 8:30, Flight Time 6:00
Airbus A330-200, Registration 3B-NBM, Manufactured 2007
Load was only 14/30 in business tonight, so the seat next to me was empty. Very nice! It was entertaining communicating with the crew – Creole was clearly their first language, but they also spoke decent french and english. So, we just spoke a mix of franglais which was quite amusing. Small snack after take off, then I managed a solid 4 hours of sleep before being woken up by the blessed smell of coffee and a full hot breakfast. I usually skip breakfast on redeyes, but having not eaten much the night before I went for it. The eggs were rubbery as expected, but the croissants were awesome. Landing was right on time, and it was time to explore Mauritius!