Today's news in brief:
Vistara’s maiden voyage to London
Vistara touched down at London Heathrow airport on Friday morning after completing its first long-haul flight (using a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner).
The Tata-Singapore Airlines joint venture airline is operating a series of non-stop flights under the bilateral ‘transport bubble’ agreement between India and UK, flying three times per week from now until October 24, 2020.
Friday’s maiden voyage departed from Delhi at 2.15am local time and landed in London at 6.55am (local time). The flight was a low-key affair, without Vistara management on board, or much of the usual fanfare associated with high-profile route launches.
Vistara says it will accept all eligible customers meeting India and UK visa and entry requirements, though it urges passengers onboard to “fully understand the relevant guidelines before making their bookings”.
The passengers onboard Friday’s Dreamliner flight will have watched Vistara’s brilliant new safety video, with the instructions communicated via various yoga asanas, or postures.
Filmed over 14 days in towns and cities across India, the video aims to take customers on a relaxing journey to some of the most picturesque and off-beat locations across the length and breath of the country. Footage is captured of sub-zero conditions in Ladakh, against the spectacular backdrop of Pangong lake and inside the Chemrey monastery.
Also featured are the scenic Kannur beach and historic remnants of Hampi in Karnataka, as well as the Dawki river in Meghalaya and the cliffs of Malshej in the Western Ghats of Maharashtra.
You can watch the safety video here - though be warned, you’ll probably want to pack your bags afterwards…
Indian airlines can serve food again
In-flight meals look set to make a return following updated guidance from the Aviation Ministry.
Operators of domestic flights are now able to offer food and drink, subject to a number of conditions. In all classes, plates and cutlery must be completely disposable, while “rotables” (reusable items) must be cleaned and disinfected (though you’d hope that was happening anyway).
All drinks are to be handed out in disposable units, while there is to be no “pouring service”. Crew members are also being instructed to wear a fresh set of gloves for “every meal/ beverage service” (this is not interpreted to mean each individual passenger meal).
Hot food service is also permitted on international flights, while IFE systems can be used again, subject to cleaning and disinfection prior to customers boarding.
We've reached out to Vistara and Air India to ask when they plan to resume food service, and we'll let you know when we hear back.
Virgin Atlantic offering free coronavirus insurance
Virgin Atlantic is now offering complimentary COVID-19 global insurance cover for all new and existing travel bookings (for travel up to and including March 31, 2021).
The airline’s policy, offered in partnership with Allianz Assistance, offers comprehensive cover in the event that a Virgin Atlantic customer or travel companion becomes ill with COVID-19 while on a trip.
Emergency medical costs, associated expenses such as transport and accommodation and repatriation up to £500,000 are included, as well as costs if a customer is denied boarding or held in quarantine.
The cover starts from the point of booking and ends when the customer returns home or to a hospital or nursing home in their home country. One-way trips are also included, though you’ll need to be careful as the insurance cover is only valid until “the end of the journey”, which is defined as 12 hours after the arrival of the customer’s final flight.
See the Virgin Atlantic website for full details of the cover.