The Maldives has quickly become a bustling destination from India, with new airlines adding services. On a recent trip, Simple Flying had the chance to review IndiGo’s recently-restarted service from Malè to New Delhi. Here’s a detailed look at the ground experience, flight, and service!
The Maldives is an archipelago, with the biggest international airport located in the capital of Malè. Velana International Airport can be accessed by car or bus, but due to current restrictions, most tourists will arrive by boat from their islands. Under the current rules, travelers from some countries, including India, can only visit resorts and not cities in the Maldives.
While Malè is not the biggest airport, it’s clean and relatively modern, offering the usual amenities one expects. The views right outside are definitely a highlight, with turquoise waters and more stunning visuals.
Outside the terminal (right next to the departures entry), there is a food court featuring international brands like Burger King, Thai Express, and Dairy Queen. This is notable since there are few options inside the airport, so feel free to eat before entering.
While entering the terminal, there was a staffer scanning everyone’s departure QR codes. All travelers are required to fill a health declaration while arriving and departing, which includes flight and testing details. After a quick scan, we entered the terminal building.
Security is a priority at Malè Airport, with passengers required to scan their bags and go through a check right at the door. This only took a few minutes but can cause quite the queue and delays during busier times. Luckily, only two flights were departing at the same time as ours, making the process speedy.
Web-check in was unavailable for this flight, despite only carrying hand luggage. This is due to a mandatory document verification at the check-in counter, where you are also given your boarding pass. IndiGo had four counters at Malè Airport for this flight, including a ‘Fast Forward’ one for passengers who paid extra.
The flight load for relatively low for this service, with the wait for check-in only taking five minutes or so. At the desk, an agent offered to move me to a row with an empty middle seat slightly further in the back than the one and I booked. I snagged 10A for this flight, with the free seat making things a lot more comfortable.
Check-in was followed by exit immigration. Here’s where Malè Airport really made a mark. When I joined the immigration queue, there was only one officer in the area, causing a backlog of travelers. However, within minutes, five more officers took their desks and began processing passports. This quick response ensured there was little to no wait time.
Right after immigration is security, which had a similar story. While only one X-Ray scanner and one line were open in the beginning, two more quickly opened up as more people cleared immigration. Overall, both security and immigration took under 15 minutes and highlighted the airport’s efficiency.
Velana Airport features a medium-sized terminal with several duty-free stores and plenty of seating area. The terminal is split into two floors, with gates on the lower level and the leisure section on the ground floor. Similar to major airports globally, passengers are greeted by a duty-free maze right upon entering.
For those not looking to shop, the back of the terminal is a lot more exciting. Here, there are two restaurants, Burger King and an Australian chain, The Coffee Club. Behind the restaurants is a large seating area overlooking the runway.
Passengers can relax and watch flights takeoff while waiting for their own. During my visit, this place was almost empty, with most passengers in the terminal area or waiting by the gates. Aircraft on view on the day of my flight included a Singapore Airlines 737, Turkish Airlines A330, SpiceJet 737, and many more!
Boarding began 45 minutes ahead of departure, with the official time scheduled for a full hour before. Gates one through six are located one level below, giving access to all the remote stands.
As with any low-cost carrier, IndiGo is known for its predictable cabin design and seats. The all-economy A320neo is full with 186 seats in a 3-3 layout. After finding my seat in row 10, pushback and departure was a quick affair with ~ 100 passengers onboard.
My aircraft was only two months old, registered VT-ISU. The seats onboard offer 30″ of pitch in a standard seat and are 18″ in width. As someone who is 6’2″, the seats had just about enough legroom for a four-hour journey. Legroom shouldn’t be a major issue unless you happen to be much taller, in which case taking an emergency exit seat is essential.
However, the free middle seat made a big difference, with my inbound flight being less comfortable due to a seat neighbor. Be sure to ask for a row without a seat neighbor on check-in, even though this is only possible on flights with less than 70% full usually.
I prebooked one of IndiGo’s meals on this flight. Interestingly, the airline offers several unique meal choices out of Malè that aren’t available from its hub in Delhi. I chose the interesting-sounding Seasame Chicken Rice Noodle Salad. While one of the signature sandwiches is my usual choice, it’s hard to pass up a new item.
Along with the meal, passengers can choose any one hot or cold beverage. I chose the cold coffee and dug into my meal. The salad was…interesting. The salad went well with the sweet-and-sour dressing, and the three large pieces of chicken were quite filling. However, the chicken was dry, and the dish needed more dressing. Overall, it was a tasty meal but not enough to pull me away from the sandwiches in the future.
One more point to note was IndiGo’s enforcement of India’s mask policies. My outbound flight was exceptional in enforcing mask rules, with flight attendants asking all passengers to wear their masks correctly every time they walked by the aisle.
However, things were a bit more relaxed on the return flights, with cabin crew prompting passengers to wear their masks occasionally, but not every time they passed through. Nevertheless, the crew were working hard on both flights and were nothing but brilliant during service.
Overall, IndiGo’s flight lived up to the expectations. With a reasonable ticket price, acceptable seats, and good food, the airline checked all the boxes of a great low-cost carrier.
What do you think about IndiGo’s international service? Let us know in the comments!