I planned my trip from Mumbai to Kolkata only a couple of days in advance, and this was a good opportunity for me to try out Vistara on one of its longest domestic routes. I was really looking forward to experiencing the recently resumed meal service at the time.
Mumbai (BOM) T2 - Kolkata (CCU)
Date: September 18, 2020
Aircraft: Boeing 737 - 800
Cabin: Business class
Booking the flight
I booked the flight using an Axis bank complimentary business class voucher so all I ended up paying was INR 477 (USD 6.40) in taxes. This one-way flight can also be redeemed for a total of 23,000 Club Vistara points on Vistara website.
My experience at Mumbai airport
Mumbai is one of the largest airports in India and I still can’t come to terms with how deserted I have witnessed it in the last few trips (including this one). Some shops are open, and although the shorter security queues are a definite positive, I would like to see the aviation getting back to normal sooner rather than later.
This Vistara business class ticket gave me access to the GVK Lounge at the airport and I spent around half an hour there, which was more than enough as the only service they were providing was packed food.
My boarding gate was 45, meaning I would have to catch a bus from one level below the main terminal. I collected my PPE kit (containing hand gel, face mask and a face shield), self-scanned the boarding pass and got on the bus to get to the aircraft.
The bus was waiting for a good 10-15 minutes before it started moving, which was as soon as I decided to take a seat. There was no special service for business class passengers in terms of boarding the aircraft or even getting to it.
After we arrived near the aircraft, I decided to take a few photos of the plane, which is when one of the airport personnel asked me to stop clicking pictures as “photography is not allowed on the ramp”.
Vistara B737-800 business class review
I boarded the aircraft at 6.45am and was the last one to do so. The business class cabin was empty when I entered and I asked one of the crew members if I was the only one flying business, to which she replied: “Yes sir, you can choose whichever seat you like.”
I had initially selected seat 3C, which is in the third and final row of this 2-2 configured business class cabin (which has a total of 12 seats).
After finding out that I had the entire cabin to myself I moved to the second row. I prefer sitting in the window seat during take off and landing before moving to the aisle seat for the rest of the journey (whenever I have the luxury).
First impression of the cabin: this is shinier, but definitely not as luxurious and airy as business class on the A320. It was probably the colour combination of the seats that oversold it a bit at first glance.
On closer analysis, I came to realise that the first impression was deceiving and the hard product is quite old and I believe Vistara inherited this plane from Jet Airways (Vistara leased a number of Boeing 737 -800 aircraft).
The plane was showing its age and many of the seats had a broken leg rest, meaning they didn’t close completely.
The seat controls are manual, and it took me more than a couple of attempts to figure out how they worked. There are three different adjustments you can make to the seat - recline, raising the leg rest and the leg-rest extension.
It looks like a two-way headrest, but it doesn’t seem to function well, as it doesn’t hold its position properly.
Although the tray table was a good enough size for this aircraft, the equipment had seen better days. For a minute, I felt like I was back in Air India's 777 business class.
Before take-off, Nikita introduced herself and her crew and verbally provided a choice of veg (chole bathure/ paneer patty) and non veg (egg bhurji) options for breakfast.
For beverages there were tea, coffee, apple and orange juices being served. I didn't hear anything from the crew on this flight about Starbucks drinks, which are usually available on longer routes.
I went for the veg option, with orange juice. Upon enquiring, I found out that mocktails weren't on offer, even though I was on a longer (2hrs+) flight, because they couldn't do the preparations like slicing the lemons, due to covid.
The croissant was average, just like paneer patty. If I had to rate it, I would give a 5 out of 10 to both of them. The chhole on the other hand was a little more disappointing, the combination of spices was confusing my taste buds, mainly because it didn’t taste like chhole. The best part of the meal was the bread served with chhole, I ate that with butter and had to suffice with it.
The silverware made me more happy than I imagined, perhaps because I was expecting the non-reusable spork instead.
Nikita was kind enough to ask me how I enjoyed the meal and I let her know what I felt about the chhole. She offered to bring me the egg bhurji, which was really nice of her, but I politely declined her offer as I was already stuffed (I also took breakfast at the GVK lounge just before boarding the plane).
I asked for a cup of tea once I was done with my meal and I was served masala tea. The chai was good, especially after the disappointing experience with food.
After I was done with the food and drinks I went to check the lavatory and I think it’s safe to say that this was the smallest toilet I have been inside on any aircraft. On my way back to the seat, I had a quick chat with the air hostesses and they said the A320 has an even smaller one at the back.
There was no IFE screen, wi-fi, or any reading material provided on this flight, so I decided to get some work done after the meal.
I took a small nap after, which was the sweetest and comfiest nap I have ever taken on an aircraft. I must say there was something special about that headrest. Despite the fact it didn't work as intended, I was able to get really comfortable and I slept well.
I woke up soon after and managed to do some more work before the announcement from the cockpit said we were soon approaching Kolkata. The first officer also mentioned that the temperature in Kolkata was 29 degrees celsius.
After that there was another announcement regarding covid rules and I heard him say something regarding institutional quarantine, which caught my attention. I had to specially ask the crew what the quarantine measures were in Kolkata and why he had mentioned institutional quarantine (new age problems for frequent flyers - you never know when the rules will change), to which he replied that it was standard procedure and they make that announcement regardless of the destination.
He also said that he will get their on-ground staff to assist me with this issue and clear my query, which he did when we landed. This was a nice touch. Vistara ticked another box for me - custom-made solutions for the passenger.
During the same conversation he also apologised for an unpleasant food experience, he said it was most probably because the food services have only just resumed and that’s the reason why the taste must have been lacking.
We landed around 9.40am, so the flight took a little over two hours. Before getting off the plane, I managed to click a few pictures of the economy product on this aircraft, here are a few...
I received full service, which was a welcome sight after a couple of trips without in-flight food and entertainment.
With its Airbus 320, Boeing 737, Airbus 321neo and even Boeing 787 aircraft flying domestic routes, Vistara's business class passengers can expect a wide variety of products.
The majority of the domestic routes are served by Airbus 320 and Boeing 737 aircraft. Given the choice between the two, I would go for the Airbus 320 as the seats and cabin are newer and in a better condition, while the Boeing 737 is older and can be noisy.
That being said, this flight was a good one and I appreciated the crew going out of their way to make sure my quarantine-related query was solved.
What do you think about Vistara’s B737 business class?