Hello everyone, and welcome to this new Flight review! This marks the third episode of my trip to Asia. In this Flight review, I will take you along as I explore "India's only Premium Economy" aboard an Airbus A320neo operated by the Indian airline Vistara – or as it proudly calls itself, "India's Best Airline" – on a flight from Delhi to Bangkok.
I had previously reviewed the exact same flight a year ago in Economy Class. Today's review in Premium Economy will serve as a comparison to my Economy Class experience. Vistara offers three classes on its A320neo aircraft: Business Class, Premium Economy, and Economy Class. Therefore, it's intriguing to see how Premium Economy on an A320 compares to the Economy Class.
I chose to fly in Premium Economy over Economy because it was only 2000 INR (approximately 22 €) more expensive, with several additional benefits, including a higher baggage allowance.
Let's meet early in the morning at Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport, Terminal 3.
Identity and boarding pass verification at the terminal entrance. Since Vistara does not provide online boarding passes, an email confirmation of my reservation will suffice.
The next stop is Vistara's check-in counter. Walking through this pleasant, modern, clean, and well-lit check-in hall.
Vistara offers a priority line for its Premium Economy Class passengers – a positive start for Premium Economy. After entry formalities have been checked, boarding passes are issued and luggage is tagged with priority tags, compared to Economy Class.
Then, it's off to immigration and security.
Immigration is a quick process with minimal waiting at this hour, though there is no priority queue at this point, neither for Premium Economy nor for anyone else…
Now, security check – probably one of the most complex ones I've ever experienced. I remove (as usual) my laptop, camera, and phone. Additionally, I'm asked to take out my laptop charger and external battery. No problem.
Except... my bag goes through the scanner three times before it's finally searched. The culprit? A simple AA battery, the most common type, still in its plastic packaging, which I carry in my bag just in case. The battery was confiscated, apparently because I didn't need it now, and it might pose a potential threat to the flight. Go figure...
I have identical batteries in various electronic devices with me. Not to mention that I've had this battery in my bag for years, including during my last visit to India last year. But I tell myself it will make someone happy: thanks to me, an Indian will have an extra battery for their remote control.
Once the checks are completed, we find ourselves in the international transit area of Delhi's airport.
First, we pass through a large Duty-Free area.
Then into the main hall with all the stores. There's quite a choice. Once again, the terminal is beautiful, modern, bright, pleasant, and clean. Furthermore, it's far from being crowded.
Large windows allow you to catch a glimpse of some planes on the tarmac.
Including an Air India A320neo departing for Leh (in the Indian Tibetan region of Ladakh).
And a SpiceJet Boeing 737 MAX arriving from Bangkok.
Then it's off to the gates, still with a nice architectural design.
I caught sight of one of the two IndiGo Boeing 777-300ERs, aircraft leased from Turkish Airlines and bearing Turkish registration, exclusively operating on the Delhi-Istanbul route.
A quick stop at Starbucks.
With a view of a Kuwait Airways A320neo being pushed back, heading for Kuwait City.
It's time for me to head to my gate, gate 12A, located at the very end of the concourse. It's worth noting that even here, the terminal remains modern, clean, bright, and very pleasant.
On the way, I spotted a LOT Boeing 787 in the middle of boarding for Warsaw.
Arrival at my gate, and I can barely make out my plane.
Not far from here, a beautiful Oman Air Boeing 737 MAX that will depart later for Muscat.
Boarding begins shortly, nearly an hour before the flight's departure. It may seem somewhat unnecessary, but I assure you that it creates a much smoother and pleasant atmosphere for passengers and avoids large crowds.
Boarding starts with Business Class passengers, followed by Premium Economy, and finally, Economy Class. I board as one of the first passengers.
Here's my plane, VT-TNW, an Airbus A320-251N delivered to Vistara in December 2019. I'm a big fan of this livery!
We are welcomed on board by two friendly and smiling flight attendants.
First, there's the Business Class, configured to accommodate 8 passengers in a 2-2 configuration across two rows. Connoisseurs will recognize the Collins Aerospace MiQ seat, which I had the opportunity to introduce on board Lufthansa's Boeing 787-9 Premium Economy.
Next is the Premium Economy, configured to accommodate 24 passengers in a 3-3 layout across four rows.
Behind, there are 126 Economy seats.
Unfortunately, a flight attendant prevented me from taking a photo of the cabin, even though it was still empty. However, to keep it simple, the seat is exactly the same as in Premium Economy, with a few differences that I will mention later. If you'd like to know more about the Economy Class service, I refer you to my Flight review from last year on the same route.
I arrive at my seat, 6A, located at the back of the Premium Economy cabin.
It offers a nice view of the leading edge of the left wing.
The seat has a tray table, as is common on A320 aircraft.
Upon arriving at the seat, there is a pillow, a blanket, and a very small water bottle.
The seat pocket contains the Safety card, a sickness bag, an in-flight magazine, and a brochure showcasing the in-flight entertainment offering, Vistara World. I will tell you more about it later.
There is a personal USB-A port at each seat, as well as a coat hook.
Another interesting feature of the seat is a holder for your phone or tablet!
The seat itself reclines slightly, as is common on A320 aircraft.
One small difference from Economy is the seat covering, which is slightly different here with a special headrest.
The seatbelt features the airline's colors.
Another significant difference from Economy Class is the sufficient legroom in Premium Economy. I wouldn't say it's excellent though, as it's a standard space usually found on A320s on other airlines in Economy Class, and one might have expected more in Premium Economy.
Legroom was a significant point of criticism for me in Economy Class on Vistara, where it was terrible. I had concluded that to offer three travel classes on an A320, it was necessary to find advantages for Premium Economy compared to Economy, especially with an identical seat. Well, the difference lies here: Vistara provides standard Economy Class legroom in Premium Economy and poor legroom (typical of a low-cost carrier) in Economy Class, further emphasizing the distinction between the two classes.
I'm lucky; there's no one in 6C, which gives us three seats for two! It almost feels like European Business Class, in the end...
In summary, to conclude this cabin presentation, I would say that the cabin is the same as in Economy Class, with just more legroom. The small four-row cabin separated from Economy by a curtain also makes the cabin more pleasant.
What adds a real premium touch is having the middle seat empty.
Boarding is completed, and the seatbelt sign is finally illuminated.
A flight attendant comes by to provide us with a fresh welcome towel.
Then we are given a small bottle of lemon water with spices. It's mostly a liquid cumin concentrate. It's certainly... unique.
The menu is also presented. It's nice to have a paper menu in Premium Economy!
Then we push back to the northwest, with a view of Oman Air's 737 MAX and Ethiopian Airlines' Boeing 787.
We begin our taxi to runway 09, passing by some parked aircraft.
We cross runway 10, apparently reserved for arrivals.
Finally, we line up on runway 09.
At 08:40, with a 15-minute delay, we take off.
A beautiful view of Delhi as we climb.
We can see Safdarjung Airport, a small airport established during the British colonial period, which played a significant role during World War II. It is now primarily used for VVIP helicopter flights to Delhi Airport.
To the right is the Yamuna River, and to the left, just below the Sharklet, you can catch a glimpse of India Gate and behind it, Connaught Place. In the distance, you can slightly make out the Red Fort.
We are gradually climbing to our cruising altitude.
Before the service begins, let me introduce you to the entertainment options offered by Vistara on this flight.
This Airbus A320neo, like most neo-aircraft, does not have Wi-Fi on board. However, instead of offering nothing at all like most airlines, Vistara has developed an entertainment portal called “Vistara World”.
An informative card is present in the seat pocket, along with a dedicated double-page spread in the in-flight magazine.
To access Vistara World, simply connect to the Wi-Fi network and visit the provided link, giving you access to various types of content.
First, there's a catalog of movies, which is quite decent for a flight of this duration. You'll find both Indian and American movies in several languages.
The same goes for TV series.
There's also a nice selection of music.
And a dedicated section for children.
Vistara offers an interactive map on its interface that allows you to track the flight in real time. It's a nice feature that unfortunately wasn't functional during my flight, although it worked fine on my flight last year. That's a shame.
Let's take a quick look at the in-flight magazines; they're becoming less common these days. You'll find information about Vistara's fleet, which has evolved since last year.
The airline's network has also expanded over the past year.
The list of partners has grown as well.
Now, onto the service.
Vistara offers a dedicated service for Premium Economy Class. First, a printed menu is distributed before takeoff. There are three meal options: non-vegetarian, vegetarian, and vegan. In addition, there's a wide range of beverages, from soft drinks to alcoholic options, along with tea and coffee (apparently Starbucks-branded).
I opted for the vegetarian option: Spiced chickpea curry with traditional baked bread. I paired it with Earl Grey tea (it's still considered breakfast).
The presentation of the tray is different from Economy Class. Wooden cutlery is replaced with metal, giving it a more premium feel. The main course is served in porcelain instead of aluminum, and fresh fruits replace the fruit yogurt.
If I complained about my meal in Economy Class on my flight last year, this time I have a different opinion. It might be because I chose the vegetarian (Indian) dish this time instead of the infamous omelet (which I find inedible), but my meal was really good and flavorful. The fruits were fresh and tasty. The croissant (believe it or not) was edible. I won't say it was great though: as a Frenchman, a cold, vacuum-packed, limp croissant remains an aberration.
Here's the vegan option (Savoury tomato semolina with spinach-enhanced lentil fritters) chosen by my travel partner, which was also quite decent.
After the meal, we're given water and a hand wipe. I then requested green tea.
The flight continues.
The seatbelt sign remains on for most of the flight, as we encounter several areas of turbulence. Despite that, there's a pleasant atmosphere in the cabin.
Descent and arrival
A good two hours after the end of the service, and after several visits from the crew to ensure we lack nothing (I must commend their kindness and proactiveness!), we begin our descent toward Bangkok.
It's a somewhat turbulent descent.
We eventually establish ourselves on the ILS for runway 19L.
At 14:05, 10 minutes ahead of schedule, we touch down at Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi Airport, after 3 hours and 55 minutes of flight.
We vacate the runway.
We pass by a row of Thai Airways aircraft parked, from the 747 to the A380 to the 777...
We pass by the new Sierra Concourse of the airport, which has been under construction for years...
Finally, we park at gate E6, to the right of a Qatar Airways A380.
Deboarding is relatively quick. In the distance, there's an Emirates A380 departing for Hong Kong.
We walk through the airport's corridors for several minutes until we reach immigration.
It's not a peak hour; there are hardly any people. The checks are completed in just a few minutes.
On the other side, we head to the baggage carousel.
At least here, priorities are respected. First, the baggage of Business Class passengers, then Premium Economy, and finally baggage of Economy Class passengers. That's a change from Delhi...
We exit quickly.
We head to the taxis, bound for the city of Bangkok.
We conclude this Flight review in Premium Economy Class aboard a Vistara Airbus A320neo from Delhi to Bangkok.
Overall, it was a very good flight! The cabin was decent, well-equipped with USB ports and a phone/tablet holder, even though it's still an Economy Class seat. The legroom was decent without being exceptional. The unoccupied middle seat significantly improved my experience by providing more space (even though it wasn't initially planned). The crew members were truly delightful, helpful, and smiling. The service was quite good with well-presented and tasty trays, fitting for a Premium Economy on a 4-hour flight. In terms of in-flight entertainment, there was no Wi-Fi available, unfortunately, but there was a wide selection of movies and entertaining content accessible through the online portal, which was a big plus. I'm really pleased to have had the opportunity to try Vistara once again, this time in Premium Economy! I can't wait to fly with them again in the future, perhaps in Business Class or on an A321neo or 787?
As for Delhi Airport, my experience at Terminal 3 was very good as well. It was quite smooth, the staff was friendly, and the airport was clean, beautiful, and modern. You won't have time to get bored with the various dining and shopping options available in the terminal. It's truly a pleasant, smooth, and enjoyable airport (at least in the morning). I wouldn't hesitate to pass through there again in the future.
Lastly, regarding Bangkok Airport, it was also a smooth and pleasant experience. Immigration was quick, and the baggage arrived promptly. The terminal was enjoyable, modern, and beautiful. I'll show you more in my next Flight review.
I hope you enjoyed this third Flight review. I look forward to seeing you again soon for the fourth episode, which will take me to another Asian country.
Thanks for reading and see you soon ;)