This week Simple Flying was invited by Vistara to review the airline’s safety measures. On a recent flight between Delhi and Goa, we reviewed the hygiene protocols in place and how effective they are. Here’s what to expect when flying with Vistara on domestic routes.
Social distancing is key
The new protocols begin at check-in itself, with passenger queues expanded and markings on the floor to ensure social distancing. All airline staff were also wearing masks and some even donned full PPE. Passengers are required to wear masks in the airport at all times except while eating or for security checks.
Plexiglass barriers have been added to the check-in desk to minimize contact between passengers and staff. A quick scan of the mobile boarding pass allows check-in agents to print your baggage tag and send the bag off.
Passengers traveling without checked baggage can still skip check-in and print their boarding pass at home or at one of the dedicated kiosks. At Delhi and Mumbai, bag tags can be printed from the kiosks and feature automated baggage drop-off counters, a new addition. This makes the process contactless and quite quick.
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Boarding and cabin
India does not require blocked middle seats on any flights but does require airlines to give passengers hygiene kits. Vistara’s hygiene kit consists of the essentials: a face shield, mask, and bottle of hand sanitizer. Middle seat passengers are also offered PPE gowns for additional safety. These kits were given to passengers at the gate during boarding.
The boarding procedure has also been amended. Business class passengers continue to board first, followed by premium economy. However, economy passengers now board back to front to reduce contact between passengers. This has become an industry practice and could be here to stay.
Social distancing is also required during boarding and passengers are given another temperature check at the aircraft door.
Face shields and masks are needed throughout the flight except while eating or drinking. Crew members also reminded passengers of the same in case anyone did not follow the guidelines.
Vistara has added several measures to reduce contact with the cabin crew. The crew were only present during the safety briefing, to take orders in the premium cabins, and to serve meals. The meal service is also offered on a single tray, with the choice of a vegetarian or non-vegetarian meal in premium cabins.
All inflight sales, reading materials, and other services have been suspended to prevent possible transmission. Flight crew also undergo regular health checks and wear gloves, masks, and full PPE. While service might be scaled back, the quality remains unchanged.
Like most modern aircraft, Vistara’s fleet comes equipped with HEPA filters that clean and circulate fresh air in the cabin. These filters are considered the industry’s gold standard and can eliminate up to 99.9% of airborne particles.
Behind the scenes, aircraft undergo a thorough cleaning between flights and a deep clean every 24 hours. Cleaning targets the seats and common touchpoints such as tray tables, armrests, and lavatories. While this does increase turnaround time, airlines are focused on ensuring passenger safety during the pandemic.
Vistara has introduced a number of measures to ensure hygiene throughout the flight process. As domestic passengers pick up, travelers can feel safe knowing that such measures have reduced the chances of catching COVID-19 onboard are lower than being struck by lightning!
Have you flown since the pandemic? How was your experience? Let us know in the comments!