A day of budget airlines
New Delhi Travel Blog› entry 7 of 37 › view all entries
We'd booked ourselves flights from Hyderabad to Amritsar. Having checked out, and been shocked by, the prices for Indian Airlines, we'd discovered that there were a plethora of Indian budget carriers to choose from. We'd already flown from Mumbai to Goa on Air Sahara, but now we also discovered Air Deccan, which had a much more extensive network. They appear to be the Ryanair of Indian aviation.
The flights connected in Delhi, and because Air Deccan are a budget airline the two flights were sold separately, and not as a connection. As such they wouldn't cover us for missing the second flight if the first flight was delayed, so we left plenty of time to connect in Delhi. There weren't that many different flights to choose from, so we ended up with an eight hour connection in Delhi airport. In the end the first flight was on time, and the second one delayed, so we had about 11 hours in Delhi airport!
We had to leave our hotel at 4am to get the first flight. We'd been worried about getting out of the hotel, because we knew it was locked up at night, so we discussed it with them the night before. We were therefore surprised when we got downstairs to find the shutter down and no-one there. Aargh! It was only after a little while that we noticed a bundle of clothes on the floor, which was the receptionist sleeping. We were able to get out, get our deposit money back, and head off.
We'd also been worried about getting to the airport, but in true Indian style within seconds of leaving the hotel and auto-rickshaw turned up. I'd been somewhat foolhardy as far as the weather was concerned, thinking something like "India's a hot country, I only need a T-shirt", which doesn't work at 4am in December; it was a very chilly ride to the airport.
The flights were very smooth apart from the delay to the second flight. Our 11 hours in Delhi airport weren't great; there aren't a lot of facilities in the domestic aiport, so we had to eat in the same disappointing restaurant twice. At one point in the day we were subjected to an impromptu birthday celebration for a member of the Air Deccan staff, which was held on the next row of seats to where we were in the waiting area, and seemed to consist mainly of them singing loudly and rubbing cake into the upholstery!
Because the flight to Amritsar was late in, by the time we got out of the airport it was quite late, and options for transport were limited to a handful of taxis, whose drivers were thus in a strong bargaining position. However, I inadvertently managed to negotiate 50% off the price I was about to agree to pay, so that was good. They wanted to take us to a hotel, but we insisted on being taken to the railway station. As soon as the taxi had gone we headed off to find a hotel! That wasn't the end of having to avoid commission-touts, though. As soon as we headed towards the hotel of our choice, selected from the pages of the Lonely Planet, we were met by another tout who asked us where we were going and, without waiting for an answer, sprinted off an stood in front of the hotel we'd been heading towards waiting for us! We had to re-evaluate our plan, and found a nice cheap hotel (Hotel Sonia - see the review under Amritsar) run by a man who obviously wasn't interested in paying touts. It was a little noisy, although that was mainly due to the other guests, but it had hot water in the room, rather than delivered by bucket, which was a real luxury.