Part 2: 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
AviationSource News 9 Min Read
9 Min Read

LONDON – 2022 was an amazing year for aviation and India, as well as for me. I was able to fly on all the major airlines in the country and also some regional airlines.

In this article, I have tried to give a brief overview of what I personally feel about each of the airlines I flew with.

In Part One of this review, I began covering the airlines I flew with. In Part Two below, I continue the reviews, and to finish, I will give a verdict as to which airline I believe gives the most “Value for Money”.

So, please enjoy the conclusion!

Akasa Air


Akasa Air started its journey on 7 August 2022, and I was able to join them for their inaugural flight on the BLR-COK sector.

That day was a proud moment in the Indian aviation industry. After many years, this country saw a new major airline take to the skies, and my flight was filled with ‘Av Geeks’ like me, who just bought tickets simply to be a part of this major event.

A review of my inaugural flight experience can be found here.

Since its inception, the airline has been rapidly increasing its fleet and will soon be achieving the target of 20+ aircraft in its complement.

I have always had good experiences on board, though unfortunately, the same cannot be said about my ground experience.

Currently, the airline has outsourced its ground staff. Improving this area will help them become a complete package.

Photo Credit: Akasa Air

Now there are several points about “Product Inconsistency,” which I suggest is not entirely their fault. This is partly due to a global shortage of seats and components and the airline’s decision to add new aircraft aggressively. Nevertheless, it disappointed me in many instances.

Akasa Air advertises that they are unique from the rest of LCCs in India as they have additions like a USB charger and adjustable headrest.

However, for the aircraft inducted recently in their fleet, all these conditions are missing, which at times doesn’t meet the passenger’s expectations.

Pros:

  • Bright Interiors
  • Extensive menu
  • Friendly crew
  • I never faced any cancellations (I flew with them 8 times last year)

Cons:

  • Ground staff need to be trained better
  • The app still needs a lot of new features

Air India


I was more than excited to try Air India at least once after their privatization, just to experience if anything had changed at all.

To be fair, this airline has been mismanaged for decades, and just a few months wouldn’t be enough to get the airline back on the map.

I had my hopes high, but something which I highly dislike is the experience would entirely depend on the duration of the flight and the type of aircraft you are flying on.

In my instance, let me try to compare my experience with BOM-BLR & MAA-DEL. My BOM-BLR was operated on their A320, and my flight duration was 1:30 hrs, but for some reason, the airline doesn’t serve hot meals on such short-duration flights.

Considering Air India is a full-service carrier, they really should be serving meals. And to my shock, the leg space felt cramped and not as comfortable as Indigo which is an LCC.

An Air India A321 flight on the tarmac at Chennai bound for Delhi.
Photo Credit: Gaurav Gowda

To be honest, the cold sandwich which was served was just horrible. Now, on MAA-DEL, I flew on A321, and what a pleasant experience it was!

Legroom is very generous in the economy – I would say slightly better than Vistara’s Premium Economy – and the food was super delicious and top-notch.

Yes, Air India has the potential to be the market leader in the country because they will soon be merging Vistara into their brand. There is a high benchmark; only time will show how Air India will perform.

My trip report for Air India can be found here.

Pros:

  • Amazing food (only flights above 120 minutes)
  • Great leg space (again, on certain types of aircraft)
  • Generous baggage allowance (best in-country)

Cons:

  • Inconsistency in its products
  • Outdated interior
  • Ground experience is not the best

Vistara


I now come to my favorite airline (for many reasons) in India.  I flew with Vistara the most in 2022, in different sectors, but my experience always remains top-notch.

Yes, they need to train their ground staff (especially in Mumbai, to handle situations in a better way), but in other destinations, I always found the ground staff to be very active and helpful in their work.

Having flown at different timings, I have tried their breakfast, lunch, evening snacks & dinner. I can say with confidence that it is one of the best meals served onboard any airline in the country.

The cabin crew has always been so friendly and helpful. In many instances, I have had them go out of their way to accommodate a passenger’s needs. They are also the only airline in the country with a “Premium Economy.”

My review of this flight can be found here.

A Vistara Airbus lined up on the runway for takeoff.
Md Shaifuzzaman Ayon, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Their aggressive pricing recently makes it a steal deal for anyone who books their ticket a month before, as it is a complete value-for-money package.

Their inflight entertainment, which can be streamed on your personal device, has more content compared to any other airline in the country.

Pros:

  • Delicious complimentary meals
  • Good leg space
  • The crew is always helpful and on their toes during the entire duration of the flight
  • Aggressive pricing (only when pre-booked 1 month before)
  • Good IFE with a decent choice of Hollywood movies and TV shows

Cons:

  • Ground staff (particularly at Mumbai airport) needs to be trained
  • Getting in touch with customer support can be a tedious task, with an average wait time of 20+ minutes.

The Verdict


in order to give out a fair verdict, I prioritized value for money, ground staff, and on-board experience. I had set a list of expectations before getting on board an aircraft.

This depends on if it was an LCC or a Full-service carrier.

I concluded that it was a tie between IndiGo & Vistara, and let me explain why so.

IndiGo Airlines logo

Firstly, IndiGo has always exceeded my expectations by far. In almost all instances, I have seen last-minute tickets with IndiGo being cheaper than compared to any other airline.

They have frequent flights between all major cities and fly to the most remote airports in the country as well. They always have a clean cabin, and their website is probably the best among any carriers in India.

Now, speaking about Vistara – although it’s a full-service carrier, they have recently started pricing aggressively and competing directly with the fares of LCCs like IndiGo.

When you compare the fare difference (even if, say, paying a premium of $5-$10), Vistara is clearly a better choice as they offer free seat selection and, of course, their good quality hit meals.

This makes it the perfect value for money for any passenger.

I hope you have enjoyed my review of Indian airline experiences in 2022. Stay tuned for more trip reviews in 2023!

TAGGED:
You Might Also Enjoy