Vistara, a joint venture by the Tata Group and the Singapore Airlines, began operations in January 2015.From day one, the airline promised to revolutionize the entire air travel experience in the domestic aviation scenario in India.Motivated and driven by the tagline ‘Fly the new feeling’, Vistara aims at delivering a unmatched product in the Full Service Carrier segment.
I had been really wanting to try this new airline from quite some time, because of many reasons. Some of them were a. 9W and AI lacked in some areas in the FSC tally b. Having traveled in Kingfisher Airlines, I really wanted to once again see a carrier with a product similar to it,if not better c. New Airline.
Plans to fly Vistara materialized a little later than I’d expected, but nonetheless, something I really looked forward to. Expectations were high, partly because of reviews from other travelers/reports and partly because, two of the most reputed organisations in their sectors – Tata and SIA have joined hands to give birth to Vistara.
Planned Routing was as follows:
UK868 DEL-IXB via Guwahati (Premium Economy)
UK813 IXB-DEL (Business) Airbus A320 VT-TTJ
The Flight(UK813 IXB-DEL Airbus A320 VT-TTJ)
- Online Booking and Website-The online booking experience was seamless and quick. After choosing the flights, the booking gets done in four steps.The website is user friendly and easy to use. In my opinion, the homepage can be given a better design, the present one is a little too ‘in-your-face’ for my taste.
- Check In and Boarding – This is where it gets interesting. The scheduled departure of UK813 is at 1420hrs from Bagdogra. I had left my room at around 1135hrs and planned to reach Bagodgra airport by about 1230hrs. Having done the web check-in a day earlier, I did have a lot of time to spare (…or so I thought). Just about 8 kms short of the airport, there was a traffic jam of more than a kilometer with many people standing outside their vehicles. Somehow, the taxi driver managed to bypass quite a few cars but couldnt go really far. Upon little investigation, we got to know that an accident had occurred at one end of a bridge and there was absolutely no way this jam would clear anytime soon.By now it was almost 1220hrs and the driver told me that this was the only approach road to the airport. The only other road, route rather, would have me traverse more than 45kms to get to the airport, and included crossing a dry riverbed. We made the call and decided to take that road, time was passing by rather fast, the distance wasn’t. I finally managed to reach the airport at 1350hrs!! During this time, I received four calls from the Vistara manager at Bagdogra who continuously kept asking me of my whereabouts and had kept the flight open till I reached. I was the last passenger and he personally accompanied me through the entire security check and boarding process and ensured it went well.
Business Class seats on Vistara’s A320 VT-TTJ.
- Pre-Takeoff – From the minute I stepped into the aircraft, there was an aura of a certain perfection which I had noticed during my first flight with them as well. Vistara offers 8 seats in the Business class cabin in the standard 2-2 layout. Just a couple of minutes after taking my seat, I was offered the welcome drink – Guava juice.
Not the most pleasant looking drinks, but refreshing without a doubt.
Guava juice.Thereafter came the cold towel, which was offered after boarding was complete and the ladder was being detached.Quick taxi thereafter and we were airborne at 1425hrs sharp.Noteworthy, here is the fact that, procedures at Bagdogra do not involve pushback and the aircraft makes a right turn out of its parking bay on its own power, with the total time to runway of not more than 4 to 5 minutes. The lead FA and IFM of the flight was serving the Business passengers.Responsible for making the safety demonstration announcements in English and Hindi, she also was supposed to collect our towels and drink glasses and be seated after all this in less than 4 minutes.
- Cruise – Just after the captain notified the cabin to begin with the service procedures, we were given the food Menu.On offer today for the vegetarians was Chanar Kofta and Masaman curry. Non vegetarians had the choice of Za’atar Chicken or Fish curry served along with vegetables and rice.Without any second thoughts, I went for the non-vegetarian option – Za’atar Chicken. Here’s what the entire meal looked like.
The meal was delectable and well-flavored, the chicken was tender and nicely marinated. The flight attendant served another offering of bread – Oregano this time.Each meal was served individually to each passenger in the business cabin and there was no cart used for any service. After the middle eastern delight we had a choice of juices (Orange,Mix-Fruit and Apple), aerated drinks, Tea and Coffee on offer.
Orange Juice it was! Do take note of how the glass is placed right in the middle of the Vistara star. Much to my surprise, it wasn’t placed this way by chance. The FA deliberately put it there and did it with a lot of poise. Thats the perfection I was talking about.
By now, the crew had begun preparations to land at Delhi and very swiftly the entire cabin was prepared for arrival.
- Landing – We landed at Runway 10 at Delhi and had quick taxi back to gate.
Spotted VT-TTL – Vistara’s latest bird which arrived just a day before from Toulouse parked on the remote stand alongside VT-IDU, 6Es latest bird.
Docking at the gate next to sister ship VT-TTI.
Before deplaning, an announcement was made asking passengers to lower their window shades so as to keep the temperatures comfortable within the aircraft and prepare for the next flight. Exit was quick as I didn’t have any checked-in baggage.
- The service offered, from the start till the end of the flight, is very professional, complete and adopts a no-nonsense approach.
- The functioning of the airline, its staff and its operations seem to integrate into one cohesive unit very easily, functioning like clockwork.
- The product, atleast for now, seems to be consistent. 9W and AI lack the most in keeping their product consistent across the spectrum.
- Major changes have been introduced from the day Vistara began operations – Ticket pricing has been looked into, Premium Economy maybe done away with, IFE and Wifi are being introduced etc.This speaks alot about the airline and shows how they are adapting and surviving in the very niche FSC market.
- Lack of IFE wasn’t felt much, probably because it wasn’t a long flight. However, It should be introduced.
- Crew are quick,polite, and efficient.
- The tradition of excellence adopted by Tata and SIA shows very well in the working of this airline and each detail is taken care of.
- The menu and food still have room for improvement.
- Overall Rating – 9/10
The airline is growing well and adding aircraft and sectors at a steady pace.Currently operating 11 aircraft over 17 destinations with Chandigarh, Kochi and Srinagar being some of the latest additions. What remains to be seen though is whether Vistara can survive the test of time, and more importantly be able to hold fort in a very dynamic and continuously changing Indian aviation market scenario.
Good wishes to them and I hope they continue to grow at the same pace!