The wait is over! As expected, Vistara has confirmed it will soon begin flying to London using its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. Here are the details…
Vistara’s Delhi-London flights are now on sale
With just over a week’s notice, Vistara says it will begin flying from New Delhi to London next Friday, August 28.
The Tata-Singapore Airlines joint venture airline has secured prized slots at Heathrow airport (using Terminal 2) to launch a series of flights as part of the bilateral transport “bubble” formed between India and the UK.
The first flight leaves Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi at 2.15am on August 28, arriving at Heathrow at 6.55am the same day.
For an initial period covering August 28-September 30, flights will operate three days per week, departing the Indian capital on Monday, Wednesday and Friday as per the following schedule:
From September 15, there is a slight change to the schedule, as the London-Delhi flight leaves Heathrow at 3.05pm (rather than 3.35pm).
Leslie Thng, chief executive officer at Vistara, said:
"As the world starts opening up in a phased manner following an extended global lockdown, these special flights give us the privilege of facilitating travel between the two countries. We are confident that travellers will appreciate having the choice of flying India’s only five-star airline to and from London, which also upholds the highest standards of safety and hygiene. The arrival of our second Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner further strengthens our fleet and underlines our commitment to expanding globally. There is an inherent need for an Indian carrier with modern fleet, world-class cabin products and onboard service to fly non-stop on long-haul routes. Our Dreamliner aircraft help us distinguish our offering and give us a competitive edge in the market."
The airline says it is now seeking regulatory approval to operate similar special flights to Paris, France and Frankfurt, Germany.
What’s the deal?
Vistara’s long-haul operations are made possible thanks to the recent delivery of Vistara’s second Dreamliner aircraft. All flights on the Delhi-London route will be operated by the airline’s brand new Boeing 787-9 wide-body jets.
One-way fares from Delhi to London start from INR 29,912 (USD 399) in economy, INR 44,449 (USD 594) in premium economy and INR 77,373 (USD 1,034) in business class. Bookings can be made directly with Vistara (though there’s currently an issue preventing London appearing as a destination on the desktop site - try the mobile app instead) and through travel agents.
Vistara’s Boeing 787-9 aircraft comes in a three-class cabin configuration including fully-flat beds in business class and seats upholstered in leather in the premium economy cabin.
Onboard, Vistara cabin crew will wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and avoid all non-essential interaction with passengers. In line with health and safety guidelines, the airline has introduced “a new food and beverage service” - though no further details have been released, so probably best not to get your hopes up!
Aircraft interiors will be deep-cleaned after every flight using approved cleaning agents - a procedure that includes thorough sanitization of all surfaces such as seats, touchscreens, overhead bins, seatbelts, tray tables and galleys.
Vistara’s Dreamliner aircraft are equipped with efficient airflow and filtration systems that continuously refresh cabin air with air from outside. According to the airlines, powerful HEPA filters trap 99.9% of particulates such as viruses (including coronaviruses), bacteria and fungi and purify the air inside the cabin every two to three minutes.
Who’s allowed to fly?
Vistara says it will accept “all eligible customers meeting visa/entry requirements in both the countries, as specified by the respective government bodies”. Customers are being encouraged to fully understand these guidelines before making their bookings.
Useful websites to check current guidelines include the UK Foreign Office and India’s Bureau of Immigration. Both India and the UK have imposed quarantine requirements for most arriving international passengers.
No doubt, the launch of long-haul service is an exciting development for the young Indian airline, albeit in unusual circumstances.
Going forwards, Vistara will find plenty of competition on the London-Delhi route, going head to head with Air India, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic in the future (plus the many other carriers offering connecting service).
In its favour is Vistara’s superior on-board experience, particularly when compared to Air India and British Airways’ legacy Club World business class (though perhaps BA will now be tempted to send its newer Club Suite product to the Indian capital).
We wish Vistara all the best with the launch of its long-haul operations and look forward to reviewing the new service!