They intend to be the Louis Vuitton of Indian aviation, my words, not theirs.
Just this morning, I was over at the Taj Palace Hotel in Delhi to witness the unveiling of the in-flight product and experience from the latest Indian airline waiting to take to the skies, Vistara. It was an interesting presentation, but I did not come back with much that they promise to do which only they do, and not others. Apart from the Premium Economy cabin class of course.
Like I mentioned a couple of days ago, Vistara will be the first Indian airline to carry a Premium Economy product. The plane will be a 3-class configuration.
Business Class: Vistara takes pride in a 42” seat pitch, and seats which will have an extendable leg rest. 16 of those seats in a 2-2 configuration on the plane. I could not locate the personal storage space on these seats, but Vistara promised they are there, so they must be there.
Premium Economy: Premium Economy will have up to 20% more legroom than economy seats at 33-36 inch . As a result, the seat goes back further. The airline claims to have invested in seats with longer armrests, along with a tray meal service. Think Economy seats of today in other airlines, however, with a larger space to stretch out. And yes, the label of Premium Economy.
Economy: Economy will have a boxed meal service, instead of a meal service in a tray. That was all about Economy that was different.
The Inflight Catering:
Vistara has tied up with TajSATS to devise the meals for the flights. Of course, both are JVs between Taj and Singapore Airline companies, so they were the logical choice. The menus will be rotated every week, hence you don’t get the same meals if you are a frequent flyer. Each meal with reappear only 4 weeks down again. For the non-vegetarians, there will be 2 options in business and premium-economy, and 1 option in Economy. Similarly, there will be 2 veg options in Business & Premium Economy, and 1 in Economy.
Some more details begin to emerge today, but only two are of interest. Like we mentioned before, the program accumulates on a revenue basis, so miles will be accumulated as a ratio to the price of your ticket. How can you redeem them, is still unknown however (fixed pricing per segment or variable pricing). One of the uses is to be able to redeem them for upgrades.
Additionally, Vistara is making tie-ups with other airlines and non-airline partners to make more earning and redemption opportunities available. However, personally, I don’t expect a credit card anytime soon.
Of interest would however be the fact that Taj Inner Circle will be a partner with Club Vistara, and also the airline will have tie-ups with Singapore Airlines and Silk Air.
The question asked the most still remains, how will you be able to redeem these points on the airline.
Vistara promises to make the service experience a personalised one. They also stressed a lot on the fact that they will have seamless check-in unique to them. The airline will offer Web/mobile/counter check-in and then they will have roving check-in agents, which they claim are unique to them, but in reality other airlines such as Indigo and Jet Airways have had them in the past.
Vistara claimed to have a unique auto check-in option, which already exists in Indigo, and is also coming soon to Jet Airways.
Seamless boarding however may be the reason I will like them. Right now, Indian airlines just hoard passengers onto the plane, and Vistara promised to manage queues and boarding sequences.
One thing to note is that at in Mumbai, they will use the newer Terminal 2, which will help them offer a nicer lounge and more space at the airport itself for a premium experience.
The airline is working on an exclusive lounge at Delhi Terminal 3, and this should go live by April 2015. I am guessing they will also use the lounges from Plaza Premium or Air India till then.
So why the premium pricing?
Vistara is positioning themselves as a premium carrier, and I’m guessing they are hoping people will come back once they like their experience, just like those who flew Kingfisher Airlines were captive customers for the airline. I’m waiting to see what the fuss is all about after I get on one of their flights. Till then, I am hoping they are able to deliver the wow factor on a 2 hour long flight.
How do you like the premium positioning of Vistara? I really hope they have a key differentiator around here.