Part 1: India’s airlines – which one is the best?

A busy airport tarmac in Bombay India
Andrew Thomas from Shrewsbury, UK, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

LONDON – 2022 was an amazing year for Indian aviation as well as for me. I was able to fly on all the major airlines in country and also some regional airlines. AviationSource writer Gaurav Gowda reports.

In this article I will try to give a brief overview of what I personally feel about each of the airlines I flew with. And finally, I will give a verdict as to which airline I believe gives the most “Value for Money”.

The regional airlines which I didn’t get to try last year were:

  • FlyBig
  • Star Air
  • India One air

So, sit back and enjoy my review on every major airline on India.

IndiGo


Let’s start with the market leader, both in size of fleet & number of passengers flown – IndiGo. I took quite a few flights with IndiGo last year, and to sum my experience with them in two words, it would be “Hassle Free”.

Be it their friendly UI or web check-in or in case of cancellation, one never has to run around calling the customer service or sending an email or any other sort of trouble.

All the details one needs, or information of alternate flights (in case of cancellation) – it’s all available on their website. I never faced any major issue or concern with them.

The have generous seating space, if you book a discounted fare you will have to pay for seat selection of your choice. Minimum cost for a window seat starts at $1.60.

An IndiGo Airbus on the taxiway.
Md Shaifuzzaman Ayon, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

But if you choose “Flexi Fare”, then you get one food selection and the seat is complimentary. Also, “Flexi Fare” is usually $10-$12 more than the normal fare.

IndiGo is known for its aggressive pricing and on time performance and comparing it with any other LCC in India, I would choose IndiGo anytime.

Now, speaking of some drawbacks – I would say unavailability of an oven on-board hinders passenger experience a lot. This is mostly for passengers flying on international sector, as they serve only ready to eat food items which isn’t sufficient for flights of 3+ hours flight. My trip report for Indigo can be found here.

Pros:

  • User friendly UI.
  • On time performance

Cons:

  • No hot meals available

SpiceJet


I flew twice with SpiceJet on the BOM-DEL, DEL-IXL routes, and both the times it was just not up to the mark.

It started with my booking experience, where I attempted to change my reservation via their customer support, and they booked me on wrong date…and the wrong year, in fact!

Later I had it canceled, but they did charge me a cancelation fee, but later it was refunded in the form of voucher.

On my first leg on BOM-DEL, I was shocked to see the sad state of the aircraft – worn out seats, some of the seats remained reclining, and one couldn’t push their seat to upright position.

This was a safety hazard, as in case of an emergency landing one wouldn’t be able to move out of their seats easily as they were reclined.

A SpiceJet Boeing 737 approaching to land.
Md Shaifuzzaman Ayon, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Yes, the staff on the flight were very helpful. My overall experience hasn’t been great, and I consider SpiceJet at the last on my list. Trip report can be found here.

Pros:

  • Affordable airfares

Cons:

  • Buggy application/website
  • No proper communication amongst the airline regarding any issue
  • Frequent flight cancelations

Go First


Go First experience has been kind of mixed for me. In some instances, it was really good and, in some instances, I did not enjoy it as much.

The airline has been through some turbulent times in the past and was even rebranded from “Go Air” to “Go First”.

They compete with the likes of IndiGo and have upper hand in some areas, including availability of hot meals on-board all their flight.

Hospitality has always been top-notch with the airline. In many instances I have faced a lot of issues while check-in on their app, and recently due to the engine issues they had a huge impact, and many flights were rescheduled.

Ray Swi-hymn from Sijhih-Taipei, Taiwan, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Go First does offer good selection of food and their leg space is kind of average, though I have faced few issues on many occasions, but never something which would seriously affect my experience with them. I would recommend Go First – it’s better than SpiceJet in my opinion. Trip report can be found here.

Pros:

  • Enough leg space (for someone of my height – I am 5 feet 6 inches)
  • Hot food available on-board
  • Wide network coverage across country

Cons:

  • Frequent cancelations
  • Website/app has a lot of bugs (Like unable to select Nationality in my instances, thus unable to do web check-in)


Alliance Air


Alliance Air is a government owned airline which operates regional routes in India. Though Air India was privatized, Alliance air remains under the government of India and is in consideration for privatization soon.

On my trip with Alliance Air, I noticed how dirty the aircraft was – it seemed like it had hardly been cleaned. Although I travelled on a short sector, I never saw crew coming out to even ask if passengers wanted water.

The only time they did appear was to prepare cabin for landing. Considering they are up against the likes of IndiGo’s regional service, which by the way is fantastic.

Alliance Air ATR aircraft parked at Bengaluru airport
Photo Credit: Gaurav Gowda/AviationSource

Even on shorter sectors crew they did sell food and beverages, and were proactive for the entire duration of the flight. I suggest there is a lot of improvement Alliance requires, in terms of customer service.

Pros:

  • Affordable air fares
  • Connects the smaller towns with cities in India

Cons:

  • Unclean aircrafts
  • Crew doesn’t seem proactive to be working
  • Unavailability of food
  • Outdated website

Air Asia India


I flew with Air Asia India quite a few times in last year. This was mainly on their BLR-MAA sector.

Starting with their pricing – they are always priced very aggressively. On many occasions, during flash sales, I was able to book tickets for less than $10. This is even cheaper than luxury train travel!

Fast forward to my experience with them – well, 50% of the time their flight was either cancelled or rescheduled. On one occasion they cancelled my flight just a day before, and after a lot of argument over the call I was able to secure my ticket on their connecting flight with 13+hrs layover.

Actually, they were reluctant to give me such a long layover, but I had to as last minute airfares were $50+.

An AirAsia India Airbus passes overhead.
Venkat Mangudi, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

On all occasions, the aircraft had oily marks on the window. After a few flights, I started to carry a surface wipe with me to clean the tray table and window by myself.

Trip report on-board Air Asia India can be found here.

Pros:

  • Heavily discounted air fares
  • On-board service by crew has always been a highlight

Cons:

  • Frequent rescheduling of flight at last minute
  • Cabin needs to be cleaned after each flight.

End of Part One


This concludes Part One of my review of Indian airlines. Please look out for Part Two of my article, and my final overall verdict on the airlines I flew with!

TAGGED:

PSO funding secures London route from City of Derry Airport

A funding injection of over £1 million has ensured the air route between London Heathrow and City of Derry Airport

Len Varley By Len Varley

UK government launches night flight consultation process

Industry and local communities will have a say on night flying at Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick airports under a newly

Len Varley By Len Varley

Heathrow Airport: 2023 sees a return to profit

Heathrow Airport capped off a year of resurgence and rebound in 2023, showing the first adjusted profit in four years.

Len Varley By Len Varley

Dubai International Airport: 2023 record traffic exceeds expectations

2023 saw traffic exceed expectations for Dubai International Airport, with passenger footfall increasing 37% to 87 million.

Len Varley By Len Varley
You Might Also Enjoy