Air India largely has deployed an Airbus 320 series fleet on domestic operations, but these come in two varieties: All Economy and Economy + Business seating. The decision to make all economy seating happened a couple of years back when Air India found itself not being able to sell premium cabins on non-metro routes to the extent it wished it could.
Anyhow, they are now trying to monetise the limited opportunity that exists on some of these routes, such as Delhi – Guwahati – Imphal, with the introduction of a Premium Economy class of service on these A320 serviced routes. The strategy is similar to European carriers, who create a business class section on intra Europe routes by blocking off the middle seat on the first two rows of the all-economy configured plane. Again, just like the European carriers, they’ve thrown in Lounge Access and Priority Boarding for good measure. In addition, passengers will be provided a welcome drink, a towel service, and a choice of hot meals.I also believe there would be a higher baggage allowance, but details are still sketchy.
While I can’t book these seats on the Air India website or any online travel agency just yet, as per a report in the newspaper Mint, these will book into the lowest Business Class fare bucket, and earn miles accordingly as well then.
This plan to fly with Premium Economy seats goes live from February 15, 2014, however bookings can’t be made yet! GoAir already provides a similar service which they sell as GoBusiness, while SpiceJet recently introduced FlexiFly, which has these benefits in part.
- Air India AI660 Economy (BOM-DEL) (March) – A321
- Air India AI657 Business (DEL-BOM) (April) – A321
- Spicejet introduces Flexifly: optional add-ons to your flight