Review: IndiGo ATR first flight was a #paxex 10/10

Today was a momentous day for IndiGo given the launch of the IndiGo ATR ops. The airline which has been growing at a fast clip, opening stations like no other airline in India. We have to credit them for making on-time flying possible for many new places on the Indian aviation map.

However, IndiGo has also grown big enough to now having newer ambitions. One of those was to connect with newer, smaller cities and towns where there was not enough traffic to fill up an Airbus A320 family plane on a daily basis. And for that, they engaged the ATR turboprops, which they have 50 of on order now.

IndiGo received their first ATR a few days ago, and today was the formal launch of the ATR operations. In the first set of rotations, IndiGo is plying the first plane on a Hyderabad – Mangalore – Chennai and return rotation and a flight to Nagpur afterwards.

As more planes join the fleet, operations will expand and newer centres will open. I’d imagine some of those would also be guided by their participation in the UDAN scheme as well to get slots at various airports.

IndiGo ATR Launch

IndiGo had big plans for this day, so I flew in last night from Mumbai to ensure I was in time for the festivities. I’d booked my tickets on the day IndiGo announced tickets were up for sale.

I walked into the terminal building at Hyderabad at about 5 AM and found a separate set of counters decorated for the first flight of the ATR operations. No one was issuing boarding passes just yet.

IndiGo ATR celebrations

IndiGo ATR celebrations

Soon enough, there was a lighting of the lamp by IndiGo top brass and government representatives, and then they started rolling out the boarding passes. Someone had flown in from Delhi with his dad to be the first passenger on this flight, so after they got the privileged check-in, I walked up to the counter my boarding pass. I had already allocated 3F for myself, so I just had to collect the Boarding Pass.

IndiGo ATR Inauguration

IndiGo ATR Inauguration

Alongside, however, came a bag of goodies from IndiGo, which included a coffee mug, a notebook and keychains. But the best part was the inaugural flight certificate. One for the keeps.

IndiGo ATR First Flight Certificate

IndiGo ATR First Flight Certificate

Subsequently, we went through security check and by the time we reached airside, boarding was announced. IndiGo was boarding by rows.

IndiGo ATR Boarding

IndiGo ATR Boarding

So, after scanning in the boarding pass, I was on my way to the bus, but not before I was handed out a nice piece of cake for the flight!

IndiGo ATR cake

IndiGo ATR cake

Hyderabad (HYD) – Mangalore(IXE)
Thursday, December 21, 2017
Departure: 06:59 AM
Arrival: 09:18 AM
Flight Duration: 02 hr 19 min
Distance flown: 379 miles
Aircraft Type: ATR 72-600
Seat: 3A (Economy)
Meal Service: Buy-on-board

Around the aircraft, there were tonnes of people buzzing. Almost all of IndiGo’s local ground operations team had turned up to get the new flight on its way. And then there were all the passengers who wanted to take pictures, including, of course, yours truly.

Hello 6E

Hello 6E

I have to admit, I’ve never been on a shiny new ATR turboprop. This was the same plane I’d met in Toulouse when on my tour to the Airbus delivery centre with Vistara, and finally it was great to be able to set foot on the first flight as well.

 

Hello 6E VT-IYA

Hello 6E VT-IYA

 

IndiGo ATR Tail

IndiGo ATR Tail

And then, to set foot inside, there was the usual IndiGo ramp rather than the step ladder, and you get a blue-carpet welcome on board.

IndiGo ATR Blue Carpet

IndiGo ATR Blue Carpet

Here is how the cabin looked from the inside.

IndiGo ATR Cabin

IndiGo ATR Cabin

Like you can see, the seats are all similar to the IndiGo A320 family seats, along with the familiar headrest which has the IndiGo logo on top of it. There are 74 seats for the passengers.  Seats are in a 2×2 layout, and the best places to sit are either in the front or the back of the plane. I don’t like to sit on the wings of this one given there is a lot of noise.

The seats right at the front of the cabin face the entire cabin. In case you want to travel as a family, you could have 4 seats facing each other. For whatever reason, these seats have a higher height for the headrest as compared to the rest of the seats.

IndiGo ATR seats

IndiGo ATR seats

However, there is also trouble with this approach which may be a problem. Families with kids would be the ideal people to take these seats. But with Emergency Exit right there, that won’t be possible. So, let’s see how this evolves over a period of time.

The overhead bins are spacious.

IndiGo ATR Overhead bins

IndiGo ATR Overhead Bins

Good enough to actually put in a roller board like I observed. But do not bank on bringing a roller board on these flights since more often than not you will have to gate check them in.

IndiGo ATR Cabin Baggage

IndiGo ATR Cabin Baggage

Coming back to the seats, they have some very good padding for a 2-hour long sector. Appreciate it. Also, there is very good leg room due to the use of seats where the headrest stores the mandatory briefing inserts. I did not carry my measuring tape along, but I can tell you for a broad fellow like me, I was not uncomfortable during the flight or fighting with my seatmate for shoulder space.

IndiGo ATR Legspace

IndiGo ATR Leg room

IndiGo ATR Headrest

IndiGo ATR Headrest

The new ATR overhead layout is actually pretty good. You have individual airflow wents and nice reading lights for everyone. However, no reading material as the IndiGo “Hello 6E” Magazine is not being stocked on the ATR flights perhaps due to weight optimisation.

IndiGo ATR

IndiGo ATR

We were on our way before time actually, and like I mentioned before, IndiGo was in full strength to say the first goodbye! In command of the plane was an IndiGo captain, and along with him was a pilot on deputation from ATR to help IndiGo kickstart their operations.

IndiGo ATR Pushback

IndiGo ATR Pushback

And met a couple of the peers along the way on the taxiway who were all over the airport.

TrueJet ATR

TrueJet ATR

Within no time, we were on our way after a 5-minute taxi around Hyderabad Airport. We flew at 18000 feet above sea level most of the time.

IndiGo ATR Customary turboprop rotors image

IndiGo ATR Customary turboprop rotors image

Once we levelled out, both the cabin crew brought out the meal cart. Given IndiGo sells meals on the plane, you could buy on board. Important to note that the menu is a smaller version than the A320 operations. And you can always book your meal selection on the website ahead of the flight.

Indigo ATR Tiffin

Indigo ATR Tiffin

IndiGo ATR Tiffin

IndiGo ATR Tiffin

If you don’t want to buy a meal, there is free water of course! I’d been eating all night given my delayed departure from Mumbai and then the transit lounge in Hyderabad, so I wasn’t hungry at this moment.

IndiGo Refreshments

IndiGo Refreshments

I hopped into the back of the plane to check out the loo. Perfectly okay for a broad and average Indian height male like me.

IndiGo ATR Lav

IndiGo ATR Lav

We got some great views along the way, and shortly after, it was time to get ready to arrive in Mangalore. On landing, we got a water cannon salute. One of those #avgeek moments. Then, it was time to leave the plane and hand it over to the next passengers.

IndiGo ATR at Mangalore Airport

IndiGo ATR at Mangalore Airport

Bottomline

While there will be learnings for IndiGo as they go regional, this is a solid start. For short-haul, regional flying you don’t need as much in terms of #paxex, and hence turnaround can be quicker.  They managed to have a perfect first flight, and given the IndiGo experience is usually consistent, this should be what you expect on every flight going forward.

Have you experienced the IndiGo ATR flights yet? What do you think?

Full disclosure, we paid for our own tickets to fly to & fro to experience the product and of course, for the IndiGo ATR ticket as well. 

Pros

+ Brand new planes
+ IndiGo consistent service
+ Great legroom

Cons

- Turboprops are slower and noisier than jet planes

Rating

Comments

  1. Would love to fly this plane. The last time I flew a turboprop was in 2011 IXU – BOM on 9W.
    Props always get me thinking of WWII aircraft, and I close my eyes, and dream that Im in a P38 Lightning or a Mosquito

  2. 02 hr 19 min seems like an Awfully long time for a 350 mile journey. Any idea why they have such a long block time for this flight?

    • @Gopichand they fly at a speed of 509 kmph v/s an A320 jet 840 kmph which is a lot of difference in the speed. There is a max you can go with turboprops. The point is, where larger jets cannot land or don’t have the traffic, you at least can still fly in and out of those places.

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