After a brief stop back at the Leela Palace in Delhi, it was time to take a break from India. Nepal had always sounded exotic. I’d heard from a number of people that Kathmandu was a terrible place, but I like to see everything for myself and since it was only an hour flight away…why not?
This was to be my first flight with JET Airways (9W). Although I had flown on a 77W leased by TG from 9W on my CDG-BKK flight, this would be our proper introduction.
Check in was a breeze and immigration was again (shockingly) fast. JET does have a lounge at DEL, but I think it was either just before or after immigration and I missed it. Near the main common space in the terminal there are a few contract lounges that Priority Pass affords access to (thanks AMEX!). The lounges are nothing to write home about, but they offer free wifi and a somewhat less crowded place to sit. There was a fridge of beverages and some hot and cold food options on offer. I didn’t notice any booze, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t there.
While sitting in the lounge, I started to get worried. First a Kingfisher flight to KTM was cancelled. This wasn’t surprising since the airline is nearly bankrupt and has been canceling flights with alacrity. Then an Air India flight to KTM was cancelled. Next time I glanced at the board, my flight was delayed over 40 minutes. I started to think that perhaps I would not be exiting India today. The weather was fine in Delhi and the weather report for KTM seemed to be clear as well. I was later told that flights were cancelled because there was physically no place to park the planes on the ramp in KTM. It’s a very small, outdated dump of an airport and I guess due to weather or something more planes than normal were grounded there, so only a few incoming flights got past ATC’s velvet rope.
Boarding was from an apron position and I swear to god, that shuttle bus must have taken the absolute longest possible route to get from the gate to the aircraft. I think the transit was at least 1/3 as long as the flight time.
The business class cabin on this 737-800 was very small, eight seats. When I had upgraded from Coach, I was told I had snagged the last open seat in the cabin, but as luck would have it, the aisle seat next to be in Row 1 went out empty.
The seats were big, plush, blue recliners. Very comfortable, and more than acceptable for such a short flight. As this was still technically an international flight, we got all the bells and whistles. Printed menus, etc…
The old man across the aisle spent most of the flight hacking up a lung and I thought he might expire before we got to KTM. Luckily, I didn’t contract SARS and in no time the Himalayas were visible as we approached KTM. On approach to KTM the outskirts of the city came into view and it appeared to be even more dilapidated than India. I wanted to experience something different, this would be different. Our plane pulled up to the laughably small terminal and I got a good chuckle at the “Airpor” sign where the “t” had fallen off and never been replaced. Welcome to Nepal.