Vistara, the Indian joint venture airline between Tata and Singapore Airlines, recently took delivery of its first brand new A321neo aircraft - the only narrow-body plane in south Asia to feature flat-bed seats in business class.
In August, I was the first (and only!) blogger to fly the jet on its first day of commercial service - travelling from Chennai to Delhi. Here’s everything you need to know about Vistara’s new neo.
What is the A321neo?
The A321neo (neo stands for new engine option) is a single-aisle passenger plane built by European aircraft manufacturer Airbus, offering extended flying range and greater fuel efficiency compared to other small jets.
The plane has a maximum capacity of 244 seats, though Vistara has installed just 188 - 12 in business class, 24 in premium economy and 152 in economy.
The A321neo has a list price of USD 129.5m.
Where will I be able to fly on the A321neo?
Vistara’s A321neo has initially been assigned to domestic routes, though with a flying range of around seven hours, it will ultimately be deployed on medium-haul international routes. Vistara is staying tight-lipped on future destinations for now, but Turkey, Russia and Southeast Asia are all within striking distance of the jet.
What’s so special about Vistara’s new plane?
Undoubtedly, the business class cabin, where those lucky enough to be flying up front can be pampered by Vistara’s warm and friendly service, before turning their seats into fully-flat beds and catching up on their beauty sleep.
How does A321neo business class differ from the business cabin on Vistara’s other short-haul aircraft?
There’s no comparison between the two! Business class on Vistara’s other short-haul aircraft, the A320 and Boeing 737, feature just eight standard recliner seats, offering a pitch of around 40 inches and a width of 20 inches.
On the A321neo, business class has 12 seats, set up in a 2-2 configuration. Each leather-clad seat has a 63 inch pitch and can be converted into an 84 inch, fully-flat bed, meaning you’ll be raring to go when you arrive at your destination.
What else does the A321neo business class offer?
There’s a super-sharp 16-inch monitor, four-way adjustable headrest, cocktail table, reading light and coat hook, plus a USB port and three-pin charging point at every seat.
So, how was the flight?
After a very early start, it was great to be able to make my bed and enjoy some much-needed sleep. It was a real luxury to fly in a business cabin like this on such a short flight, though there was no onboard service (owing to government guidelines in place at the time).
I arrived in Delhi feeling refreshed and excited to fly on the A321neo to an international destination, when Vistara’s famous on-board service is resumed.
How do things look down the back?
The premium economy and economy cabins are set in a 3-3 configuration, with all seats offering an adjustable headrest, 10 inch seatback monitor and a USB port.
Seats in the smaller premium economy cabin have a pitch of 33 inches and recline angle of 4.5 inches, while economy seats have a pitch of 28-29 inches and a recline of 3 inches.
What other features does the plane have?
The jet is kitted out with in-flight wifi and offers 3G mobile connectivity. There are touch-screen monitors in all cabins and passengers can take their pick from around 150 movies, including Hollywood, Bollywood and Indian regional releases.
What about coronavirus?
According to Vistara, powerful, in-built air filtration systems on the A321neo ensure the elimination of viruses and bacteria by refreshing cabin air every three minutes.
How many of these planes does Vistara have on order?
Vistara has signed an order of 50 planes from the Airbus A320 family - meaning more A321neos will surely follow.
What service will I receive on board?
Vistara has resumed on-board food and drink service, following the easing of government restrictions imposed during coronavirus.
In business class, a full service will be given on flights lasting 90 minutes and above, including cut fruits, salad, dessert, bread, and a heated meal (served in disposable, pre-packed containers), while a cold meal will be served on shorter flights.
Premium economy and economy passengers will also be served food and beverages.
What else is going on at Vistara?
The carrier has so far taken delivery of two Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, which will allow Vistara to launch long-haul services. Vistara is already operating special flights to London, as part of the “air bubble” agreement between India and the UK, and further services to Frankfurt and Paris are under consideration.