- Check-in: ICICI/American Express Altitude Lounge Mumbai Terminal 1A
- Airborne: Flight AI 660 (BOM-DEL), Air India, Economy Class
- Check-in: ICICI/American Express Altitude Lounge Delhi Terminal 3
- Airborne: Flight AI 657 (DEL-BOM), Air India, Executive Class
I arrived at the Mumbai Airport in time for the flight, in spite of the fact that it was a working day and I had a late-afternoon flight. This involved arriving at office a couple of hours earlier than usual, and skipping lunch to make the one hour plus trip across town. On arrival at the airport, I proceeded to Terminal 1A, which is currently full of banks of empty counters and only has Air India occupying the terminal. Heck, even with that, they were overcrowded in the row of counters they used.
I went ahead and joined the queue which said Golden Edge/FFP members. Heck, I am going to take a lifetime to be ever getting any status on their loyalty program, but the nuance of the logic I used was that this was the Frequent Flyer queue. No one said a thing when I popped over at the counter to collect my boarding pass.
Notice the crowd on the Air India side of things, while on the other side there is a whole row of empty counters, which has been the case since Kingfisher died.
After going through the security queues I was on my own, and I had to choose where I’d like to go. Like I mentioned, the original intention was to check out the Amex Platinum Lounge this time around, which is situated inside the Carnations Lounge at Terminal 1C around gates 4-6. However, my gate today was going to be 11, and I ended up walking towards a side of the terminal I usually don’t go to and hence am unfamiliar with. While I walked, I noticed that the incoming flight for my trip arrived ahead of time.
I don’t know if this was oversight or bad planning, but I happened to step onto an escalator which brought me to my gate. However, to go back up, there was no escalator and you’d have to climb up the stairs. With a couple of relatively heavy cabin bags, I was not stepping into that trap of going back.
I also saw the very inviting Altitude Lounge tucked away here, in a corner of the airport’s domestic terminal where no one knew about it, right opposite gate 12. However, they made it on an elevated platform, and forgot to put an escalator along. So I had to suck it up and climb the stairs anyways.
Like you’d have noticed, American Express has launched a new set of lounges, presently in Mumbai and Delhi for the members of the cards which are issued by ICICI Bank for American Express networks. Access is only available to the Sapphiro, Rubyx cards, as well as the Jet Airways Sapphiro and Rubyx cards which are on the American Express network.
The Lounge was empty, at the middle of a busy week, especially when people were all set to get out of town for a long weekend! That is because no one knew where it is. It is about a 20-seater, and pretty well done. Here are some pictures of the lounge. To access the lounge, Sapphiro members get 4 free trips per membership year at any Altitude lounge across the country, and the Rubyx members get 2 trips per membership year.
And not just that, they had a small TV lounge inside the lounge as well, the one I chose to take. A couple of couches, a Television with access to the remote and an entire lounge all to yourself, what else do you need? Here is the private lounge.
As soon as I selected the spot, the attentive crew, and there were only 2 of them manning the lounge, brought along some potato crisps and nuts along with water, and asked me for my choice of beverage. I went with Apple Juice.
Then, I was presented with an elaborate menu to choose what I wanted to eat, something I’ve only seen in the Amex Platinum Lounge before. They won me over there, because I hadn’t eaten all day, and I could get a fresh made entree now if I chose to eat. Here is the menu, I went with a Penne Arabiatta, which was made pretty well and with fresh sauces and turned in within 15 minutes.
The lounge staff was totally unobtrusive, and let me work in peace or eat in peace for almost the one hour I was at the lounge. On talking to them, I found out that the lounge was not getting much traffic (no surprise!) and maybe they’d open one in Terminal 1B as well, in the space earlier used by the Oberoi Clipper Lounge, which went missing one fine day! However, I would believe it only once it happened!
Anyhow, the lounge attendants announced my flight once it was ready to board, and I just had to pop out and head to the jetbridge to get to the flight.
Apparently you could also bring in other guests along, which would cost Rs. 650 per pax per trip, and once you run out of the complimentary visits, you’d still be able to access the lounge for the same amount.
For all the fault-finding I’ve done with ICICI Bank/ Jet Airways Credit Cards, I think this is one good feature they managed to pull out of the hat, perhaps because American Express is in charge here!