Review: Vistara A320 New Delhi to Mumbai (Economy)

I have been excited for Vistara since the day it was announced as a TATA-SIA combine airline. Like most avid flyers in the country, the sad demise of Kingfisher had left a gaping hole at the premium end of the market and Vistara promised to fill that and how.

Related: Is Vistara’s Premium Economy worth it?

I was eager to the inaugural flight on 9th of January, but my birthday on the same day would have made me miss the opportunity. So on 1st of January 2015 I finally decided to do the next best thing; Fly Vistara on its first full day of operations, on 10th January, and even fly a return segment on premium economy to understand the product differentiation from a passenger’s PoV better.

My Vistara Booking & Online Check-in Experience

In the first few hours of 2015, I decided to log in to Vistara’s booking engine and book a return ticket to Mumbai, on 10th January. The itinerary was:

DEL-BOM at 0725 hours, on UK943 in Economy, and

BOM-DEL at 1745 hours, on UK996 in Premium Economy

I was able to snag a super saver in the DEL-BOM segment, but after couple of mis-attempts, the seats got blocked and I decided to call the Vistara helpline for booking. The agent sounded eager to help but wasn’t able to un-block the super seats even after I explained him the entire situation. I decided to hang up and try again in the morning. The next morning, I went online and lo & behold, those super saver seats were back. Again, Vistara’s booking engine couldn’t process my transaction (my CC was working perfectly on other websites) so I decided to call the helpline again before the other remaining seat also got blocked or bought.

The agent was different this time but equally clueless. I understand that Vistara was just getting off the blocks but having untrained agents on the phone, who weren’t able to understand a simple situation, struck me as strange. After many minutes of back and forth, and couple of conversations with his colleagues, he finally booked the exact seats I wanted, in the fare class I was looking for. and I successfully used the same credit card on the IVR booking. Phew!!!

If my @airvistara experience will be anything like my booking experience, I’m going to be seriously underwhelmed. Poor initial impressions.

— Vishal Mehra (@SimpliVishal) January 1, 2015

 

Exactly 48 hours before my flight, accurate to the minute, I received an email for Vistara, telling me that the check-in for my flight was now open, and I’m welcome to select my seat and a special meal, if required. The airvistara.com link on that email strangely took me to a parked domain, airlinesite.com and not Vistara’s own site or check-in page.

Vistara check-in email, and the spammy link.

Vistara check-in email, and the spammy link.

Common sense would tell you that the person responsible for execution of such emails forgot to change the placeholder (thus airline site dot com). For a “premium” and yet-to-be-launched airline, in a crowded low-margin industry, this was a shocking and glaring error.

To say, I had a rocky start to my Vistara experience, would be quite appropriate. Not the “New Feeling” I was promised certainly.

Vistara 943

New Delhi IGI, Terminal 3 (DEL) – Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Terminal 2 (BOM)

Saturday, January 10th

Departure: 07:22 hours (3 minutes early)

Arrival: 09:25 hours (15 minutes early)

Aircraft: Airbus A320

Seat: 14A

Waking up at 5 am on cold Saturday morning, only so I could experience what Vistara had to offer, made me wonder if I was bordering on madness. Nonetheless, as I made my way to the airport, the first positive sign came from the skies. Delhi is infamous for fog disrupting aircraft movement in winters and this seemed like a clear day so far. I reached the airport at 0635 hours and proceeded to the empty check-in counters of Vistara. Everybody offered warm smiles and were quick to help out. There were newspapers on the desk, but no chocolates, unlike the opening day 🙂

Vistara check-in counters at Delhi T3

Vistara check-in counters at Delhi T3

Not many people fly on Saturday mornings and that was visible in the Security hold area as well. It took me just 5 minutes to clear it as I made my way to the gate. I was hungry and looking at flight boards, Vistara 943 had no “Last call” signs, so I made a quick hop to the American Express Platinum Lounge. After a round of early morning muffins and cakes, I made my way to the gate, and was there by 06:55 hours. Boarding was yet to start and passengers were hanging around the beautifully decorate gate area.

Vistara Gate - Delhi T3

Vistara Gate – Delhi T3

At exactly 0700 hours, boarding started with a call to Business class passengers, and those travelling with infants, young children. There was no special announcement for premium economy passengers and boarding was resumed with row-wise calls. As I made my way to the aero bridge, I spotted the aircraft connected to the bridge.

Vistara VT-TTB at Gate 37 Delhi T3

Vistara VT-TTB at Gate 37 Delhi T3

Passengers were welcomed by three flight attendants upon boarding. As I made my way to my cattle class seat, I was able to snag couple of pictures in the Business class section, where the seats looked comfortable with pillows and leg support in tow, and Premium Economy section, which looked like Economy, with additional seat pitch. I’ll be reviewing that in my return leg.

Vistara A320 Business class seats

Vistara A320 Business class seats

Vistara A320 Premium Economy seats

Vistara A320 Premium Economy seats

I was seated by the wing, on seat 14A . My first impressions of the seat were positive as it looked good, and despite being a slimline seat, looked sufficiently comfortable for a 2 hour flight. All Vistara seats are upholstered in leather.

Vistara Economy class seats

Vistara Economy class seats

As I settled down, the first observation was complete lack of any IFE (In-flight Entertainment) on the aircraft. Not just in economy, but also no IFE in Premium Economy or Business Class. For an airline, which has been built on the USP of a Premium product, offering above and beyond what other existing airlines are offering, with the tagline “Fly the New Feeling“, this seemed like a glaring absence.

Nobody knows if Vistara will offer streaming entertainment on PEDs later, but for now this is quite shocking to me at least. For the record, some of Air India’s A320s have personal seat back IFE, and as Jet Airways also deputes some of its A330s to domestic trunk routes, they also offer personal seat back entertainment.

Vistara Economy - No seat back IFE

Vistara Economy – No seat back IFE

The economy class offers 30 inches of seat pitch, like all other operators and I found the legroom sufficient. I also took a liking to the extra shiny chrome seat belt buckles, they were surely a new feeling as compared to other airlines, which offer them in matte finish 🙂

Vistara Economy Legroom

Vistara Economy Legroom

Vistara shiny chrome seat belts

Vistara’s shiny new seat belts

All the seats also offer a nifty coat hook tag, which I thought was a nice touch, and especially useful in winter months.

Vistara Economy - Personal seat coat hook

Vistara Economy – Personal seat coat hook

The cabin service for economy was started with a bottle of water. The captain soon came on the PA to welcome us aboard, informed us of the flight duration and the expected weather conditions in Mumbai. The seat back also had an english newspaper, safety card and a copy of Vistara magazine.

Vistara economy - Water bottle

Vistara economy – Water bottle

We started pushing back at 07:22 hours and the cabin manager, Shelly, welcomed all the passengers again.

Vistara - View over wing from seat 14a

Vistara – View over wing from seat 14A

As we were pushing back, I got curious and decided to check the flight loads. Looked pretty empty to me, with about 35% occupancy across the cabins. Probably the Saturday early morning effect I mentioned earlier.

Vistara Economy cabin - mostly empty

Vistara Economy cabin – mostly empty

Did I mention that the middle seat in my row was empty? In fact barring just one row, everybody in the aircraft seemed to have an empty middle seat. Oh the joys!

We took of at 07:36 hours and as we ascended above the foggy conditions of Delhi, the view above the clouds, with a bright sun made up for the lack of IFE.

Vistara 890 - Delhi take off views

Vistara 943 – Delhi take off views

Eight minutes into the flight, the attendants segregated the cabins and the meal service was started at exactly 07:59 hours, about 23 minutes in. We were offered two options between the Paneer Tikka/Uttapam (Vegetarian) combo and Masala akuri on an English muffin, with Chicken nuggets. I chose the latter.

The breakfast was served in a box,a long with fresh fruits, a bun, curd, butter, mixed jam and the choice of Main. Cutlery was plastic, and I must mention that at no point in the flight I was addressed with my name, as some passengers experienced on the inaugural flight. I don’t know if that was a limited practice, only to impress the first lot.

Vistara Economy Box Breakfast

Vistara Economy Breakfast Box

I personally feel that serving any fried food on a flight, on any flight, is always most tricky. It usually is never crisp, like it is intended to be, and most often gets soggy, like the way I got it. The Akuri was slightly confusing at first but after first few spoons, grew on to me. I liked the flavours. It had, what seemed to me, a mixture of scrambled eggs, pulses and fine tomatoes. The Flight attendants were unable to explain the dish to me. Overall, I appreciate the difference brought in to the usual staid catering in domestic flights.

However, if you have read my last reviews, especially of the Jet flight to Jammu, I always have serious reservations about the condiments offered in airline food. The butter offered to us was Amul and perfectly satisfactory. But the mixed jam, although FSSAI certified, wasn’t of a reputable brand, and I chose to completely avoid it.

Vistara Economy - Mixed jam

Vistara Economy – Mixed jam

Post meal, we were offered tea/coffee, but as usual I respectfully declined it. Unlike the inaugural flights, we weren’t offered any dessert/premium ice cream. By this time I decided to browse the magazine and found it well designed, with couple of interesting pieces about the history of Tata Group in Aviation, as well as how SIA got its wings.

Vistara Magazine

Vistara Magazine

I had about 15 minutes of shuteye, before our descent into Mumbai started at 08:45 hours. I found the crew professional and courteous. Sheena and Divya, who were serving my part of the cabin did a very good job. We touched down in Mumbai at 09:14 hours. The Captain came on PA to thank us again, and informed us about the sunny weather of Mumbai at 22 degrees. Because Vistara’s home at Mumbai is the brand new Terminal 2, it took us a while to reach the gate.

Mumbai Terminal 2 ATC

Mumbai Terminal 2 ATC

On the way to the gate, two of Vistara’s industry friends were remotely parked, and gave us an earful as we went past them 😉

Indigo and Jet Airways at Mumbai Airport

Indigo and Jet Airways at Mumbai Airport

We also taxied past the Cargo terminal and I was able to spot Etihad and FedEx aircraft.

Etihad Cargo and FedEx at Mumbai Cargo Terminal

Etihad Cargo and FedEx at Mumbai Cargo Terminal

Passengers were also told about their baggage on the conveyor belt #2 before de-boarding, which I thought was again a nice and helpful touch.

Vistara A320 at Mumbai T2 Gate

Vistara A320 at Mumbai T2 Gate

Mumbai T2 Arrival Hall - Baggage claim

Mumbai T2 Arrival Hall – Baggage claim

How would I rate my Vistara Economy experience? Frankly nothing too special to write home about, especially considering Jet Airways & Air India won’t let Vistara walk all over them in terms of passenger experience. If priced & scheduled right, I would definitely consider being on a Vistara flight again.

But hang on for the final word, as I write about my Vistara Premium Economy experience very soon.

 

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23 comments

  1. kamal hingorani

    very well documented. enjoyed reading it.
    just one comment – these days most airlines announce the belt number for baggage, prior to deplaning; we at SpiceJet do it as a mandate. regards Kamal

    Like

    • Prithvi Rautela

      Dear Vishal, Sharing my own Online Check-in Experience. Apparently not much has changed. I am booked on a return ticket DEL-BOM-DEL as follows:

      13/01/2016 DELBOM / UK 933 Confirmed 15:55/18:10 Economy / E 15 Kilos
      14/01/2016 BOMDEL/ UK 980 Confirmed 19:30/21:45 Economy / V 15 Kilos

      I wanted to web check in and found the experience absolutely horrible.

      On the DEL-BOM leg that I am to take today I am getting a status of Check in as “On Standby” on a fully confirmed ticket. I am being guided to check in at the Airport!! Utterly useless!

      For the return leg tomorrow, I was summarily checked in for a seat, the number of which was not displayed until the boarding card was emailed to me. And the seat allocated to me? A middle seat!! Would you think one is checking in more than 36 hours before the flight to be allocated a middle seat even without a choice and at carrier discretion?

      This is a most appalling and discomforting experience even before I have commenced my journey. I was much appreciative of the Air Vistara service before this but this experience has been an absolutely pathetic experience and I am certain that this is my last booking on Air Vistara.

      I am going to narrate this horrible experience to my colleagues and friends ever intending to travel Air Vistara.

      Like

  2. Pingback: Review: Is Vistara’s Premium Economy worth it? | Vishal Mehra and Co.
  3. Kapil

    A very nice and a detailed review. Just a small question. I will be flying them to delhi from mumbai next week. Just want to know if your seat 14A was an exit row seat?

    Like

  4. shailen

    Hi Vishal. Well written and documented piece. Re: IFE, it adds a lot of weight to the aircraft and for an average flight time of 2 hrs within India, it doesn’t make too much sense to have it. Plus, the cost of entertainment and changing content is prohibitive. IFE is nice to have but expensive to maintain, what with people damaging the switches and screens….and no I don’t work for Vistara 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      • kishore

        thank vishal well articulated one . i got a question
        does vistara fly from international airport in mumbai to domestic destinations with in india? i have booked a ticket it says terminal 2 is it in international airport?

        Like

  5. Gaurav Prakash

    Hi!
    Wonderfully written review.
    I ll be flying Vistara for the first time this Saturday morning. Just a small question!
    It flies from Terminal 3. right?

    Like

  6. Taruna

    Wanted to know if the flight is generally on time or not and Is the food included in the airline ticket like air india or it needs to be bought onboard?

    Like

  7. Prerna

    Hi Vishal,
    Going by your review, Vistara sure disappoints when it comes to providing a premium class experience. However, the Indian Aviation has transformed over many many years. I am sure you would agree. Its all about cutting unwanted costs and increasing the profit margin these days. Most of the airlines were based on a no-profit/ no-loss margin. Aircrafts are ergonomically built, sharklets are introduced to increase efficiency, the load and trim of an A/C is maintained by cutting down on unwanted galley equipments like cutlery (hence plastic). Having said that, I have a small question for you? If you had to travel from point A-B (leaisure/work) what would you chose?
    1.A pocket friendly ticket on an LCC or,
    2.The elaborate services offered (expensive ticket) on a two hr flight? Would you really need that? Unless ofcourse you look forward to the old IFE movies/channels, the reheated A/C meals and the free onboard miniature liquor.)
    NOTE- You pay for your own ticket unlike most of the corporate travellers.
    And i guess when we all do have to travel all of us log onto the discounted travel sites instead of the airline site these days. Also you mentioned that14A wasn’t an exit row seat. If its an Airbus 12th/14th rows have to be the emergency exit rows.Just curious * BTW Indigo has the 13th row which most airlines usually don’t and it is an emer exit row.
    I am just wanting to say that -The future of the aviation is more utilitarian now than ever before and most Indian airline carriers would take to the LCC model sooner or later. 🙂

    BTW, If you travel around the world and are a frequent flier, i am sure, EK and Etihad are your pick.
    Nonetheless, it was a great read. Keep Blogging !! Cheers

    An ex- Air Deccan/ Kingfisher and Indigo Crew

    Like

    • kishore

      hello does it fly from international airport in mumbai to domestic destinations with in india? i have booked a ticket it says terminal 2 is it in international airport?

      Like

      • Jaleel mangalath

        Its from Terminal 2 ( international Airport Andheri ) and not from santacruz Domestic Airport terminal 1.

        Regds
        Jaleel

        Like

  8. Rajendra Gupta

    I will be travelling first time from Mumbai to Lucknow and back by Vistara airlines. I am surprised by the time taken to reach destination which is about 4 hours. I traveled many times by almost by all airlines. It used to take about 2 hours travel time from Mumbai to Lucknow or vice versa. My bookings are direct from origin to destination in Vistatra.

    Like

  9. D Choudhury

    Hello Vishal,

    Vistara surely disappointed us when it comes to providing a premium class experience, as we were traveling from Guwahati to Bagdogra on 1st of Sept 2015 Dep at 3.20PM, but I got a SMS for delay by 20 mts, as usual we were seating in the security hold area for flight departure announcement, but there was no announcement, at 3.30PM when we approached to Gate 6 for enquiry, we saw some Vistara passengers are boarding the flight, so we were on the Q to board the flight, we thought may be its our mistake, but worst was, the ground staff gave all passengers a packet of food like beggar before boarding the flight.

    D Choudhury

    Like

  10. Sakinah Ahmad

    Awesome detailed blog with great pics. Thanks so much! I’m coming from Australia. Hoping to fly Vistara from Delhi to Lucknow and was searching for people’s experiences with this new airline

    Like

  11. richa

    very bad experience with vistara, i was with my 4 months baby, there was no one there to help me with my luggage. was there before 30 min at the check in counter, but still they refuse for entertaining to me. Neither they allowed to board the flight, nor cancel my tickets, nor transferred me to other flight. I have to leave my money and then bought tickets from other airways. Really Vistara crews are heartless and manner less. All ZERO for them.

    Like

  12. jasbir singh

    Dropped my driving licence in departure lounge at Mumbai air port gate 87a mumbai Delhi flight vistara airline.on 13th nov2015.
    Ten minutes before departure my name was announced in flight for DL I pressed call button and promptly cabin crew attended and asked me to go to fwd area and collect the DL.
    I approached the cabin crew fwd area without any delay and she said I have returned back your DL and you will get it at Delhi.
    Now it is big problem to get it back as I have to go to T3 terminal

    Like

  13. sakinah

    I just flew on Vistara Delhi to Lucknow and had a very good experience. staff were nice. food was basic but ok. Kids got a Vistara hat from crew. leather seats. nice plane. will use them again

    Like

  14. Nilesh

    Air Vistara New Delhi to Mumbai Flight UK981 dated 1st Aug 216 i.e. today writing this from the New Delhi airport at 9.48 pm, The flight is still not open for check-in the departure time is 21.35 IST or 9.35 pm but still waiting at airport just messages come my mobile that delayed by 55 mins after some time another message further delayed by another 25 mins still no signs of any announcement when could I board. I m working, tomorrow is another day to work how can I join my work as I think could not reach home before 2.00 am 2nd Aug 2016. This is ridiculous who will pay for the next day half day at work and why should I suffer just Bcaz I booked this Airline. I would recommend please avoid this Airline….I don’t know how and what is the action needed to be taken on this airline please can anybody guide me in this regard……

    Like

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