This week Simple Flying had the honor to be invited by Vistara to fly and review the airline’s safety measures. In this article, we will cover the flight between Delhi and Goa, taken in business class. Here’s what you can expect when flying with Vistara in business class during the pandemic!
After a brief document and temperature check at the airport entrance, passengers were greeted by a relatively empty check-in hall. Social distancing was no problem at check-in with only a handful of passengers at Vistara’s counters in Terminal 3 of Delhi Airport. Many passengers now skip check-in desks as online check-in becomes more popular.
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Vistara offers dedicated check-in for business, premium economy, and Club Vistara elite members. Light queues meant check-in took just a few minutes and I was off to security in no time.
Delhi Airport’s express security queues for business class passengers remain in place, cutting time at security. However, the airport was quite empty which means even regular security lanes were moving fairly quickly. The security process remains the same, albeit will staff sanitizing all baggage trays.
While India’s domestic flights are picking up, Delhi Airport traffic still felt relatively sparse. The main terminal area featured only a handful of passengers, with most opting to settle near their gates instead.
Social distancing remained well maintained throughout the airport, however, this is mainly due to a lack of passengers. When domestic passenger numbers do pick up to 2019 levels, which could be by December, we could see the airport struggle to maintain social distancing.
Vistara’s business class cabin on the A320neo is laid out in 2-2 configuration, with only eight seats in total. The small, two-row cabin gives a sense of privacy once the curtains are closed after takeoff. This also allows for a personalized experience, with the cabin manager introducing herself by name before the flight to every passenger.
My seat for today was 2A, a window seat in the second row. The cabin was nearly full on my flight, with seven out of eight seats occupied.
Despite my reservations that being in the last row would mean limited recline, these fears were quickly allayed. The seat is quite similar to others found on regional business class routes. It offers a comfortable 7″ recline and comes with calf support.
Storage is relatively limited with the only options being the seatback pocket in front of you and a small cubby next to the armrest. However, the space below the seat was enough to fit my backpack comfortably.
Overall, I found the seat to be quite comfortable for this two-hour flight.
One area where Vistara separates itself from the competition is in its service. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, pre-flight service was restricted to a bottle of water. As mentioned, the cabin crew in charge of the cabin introduced herself and noted our orders for breakfast.
Much to my surprise, Vistara has resumed hot meals onboard its flights. Two options were available, one vegetarian and one non-vegetarian. I opted for the non-vegetarian meal and received my meal on a single tray.
The meal consisted of a main dish, dessert, and a beverage. The non-vegetarian main consisted of marinated chicken pieces (kebabs), potato and cottage cheese sides, and a savory bread roll. Dessert was a fruit custard with cake. Beverage choices included coffee, tea, apple, or orange juice. I opted for the Starbucks Coffee, which has also made a return recently.
The meal was served on a single tray and in glassware with metal cutlery. The food was served hot and tasted fresh and delicious. Unlike on other airlines, Vistara has not scaled back its meal service, with the meals similar to pre-pandemic times.
Service began 15 minutes after the plane reached cruising altitude and the entire cabin was served quickly. The meal service was over within 45 minutes of the flight thanks to the efficient crew and small cabin.
Cabin crew limited their interactions with passengers to just the meal service. They also wore full PPE kits and a face shield, as has become the norm in the industry. Overall, the service felt high quality and well managed.
Vistara’s business class product is definitely the most competitive in the market in terms of space and comfort. With most Indian airlines being low-cost, the airline will continue to secure the small segment of premium passengers. Combined with Vistara’s service and quality of inflight meals, it remains a leader in service.
This has been my first flight since February and I, like many, was quite anxious about what to expect. While the pandemic has added a layer of uncertainty around safety when flying, safety measures do feel effective. All passengers have to wear masks and face shields at all times except when eating and temperature checks are in place.
The flying experience has also changed dramatically, but Vistara has maintained as much of it as possible while following safety norms.
Have you flown since the pandemic? How was your experience? Let us know in the comments!