Buyer Beware: Careful when you book Air India Business Class!

If you are a frequent Air India flyer you should know this already. Air India has been quietly switching up planes with real business class seats to Economy seats with an empty seat in the midst. So, instead of this for your Air India Business Class seat,

a seat with a seat belt and a seat belt on it

You will now perhaps get this.

Air India Business Class on VT-EXA

Air India Business Class on VT-EXA

Air India Business Class A320

Air India Business Class A320

Essentially, Air India is moving to the European Style business class, however, they are not talking about it much, till you get on the plane. You get the meal (not just Veg!), Magazines, welcome drinks and a cabin separated from the rest with a curtain, along with a Blue coloured seat over the red colour which signifies economy. These changes are being noticed on various A320 and A321 planes of the carrier over the past two months or so.

These changes have been coming up on various Air India planes which are operated on the non-metro routes, and even some regional international flights. For instance, VT-EXA, the plane shown above, is a new A320 (just two years old), which has been flying these seats for a few months now. This plane does the following routes (and return) over a period of a few days.:

  • Delhi – Bhopal
  • Delhi – Siliguri
  • Delhi – Udaipur
  • Delhi – Bhubaneshwar
  • Delhi – Lucknow
  • Delhi – Amritsar
  • Delhi – Patna
  • Delhi – Rajkot
  • Delhi – Thiruvananthapuram
  • Male – Thiruvananthapuram
  • Bangalore – Male
  • Delhi – Vadodara
  • Delhi – Srinagar
  • Delhi – Muscat

This is a list of indicative routes, and the planes which have this seating are indicative. However, what is truly embarrassing is that Air India has never bothered to put out a formal announcement with respect to them moving to this kind of seats, and people are buying J class thinking of a full wide seat, and getting this in return.

Having said that, people say that Air India is still experimenting with these seats so it is not clear where all do you get to see them right now. I’m not even sure how many planes have this reconfigured business class.

Means, it is a hit or a miss. But as a rule of thumb, don’t expect them on flights between the Metros such as Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore and Kolkatta, but expect it ex-Delhi everywhere else. I’ve even heard of them on Mumbai – Goa sometimes.


I’d be really pissed if I had to shell out 4-5x the cost of Economy flights and still be getting an Economy Class seat in Business Class. In short, I’d be angry to be taken by surprise in this case. So save your cash and book away elsewhere on another carrier, or if AI is your only hope, maybe a better idea to use them in the Economy cabin so that you get your money’s worth?

What do you think of Air India’s transition to these Business Class seats? Have you experienced their new Business Class?

(HT to Keyser on FT)

About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. I don’t know about this particular scheme but sudden change in equipments lead to this, and yes.. it sucks! when you realize the amount of money spent :’)
    Nowadays, I crossverify which equipment they fly the particular route and book the ticket.

  2. this kind of ‘business class’ seats are alrady being offered by Go Air. So it is not new to to India. Yes, it is definitely not the real deal but the main pro is that the cost is not normally what one expects for a business class seat which is normally 4-5 times that of economy but only perhaps double.

    • @George, GoAir offers an incremental price over Economy Class and does not sell itself as a full-service carrier. But when you’d pay 50K for this over 10K for Economy, you’d be pissed!

  3. Those seats look like they salvaged them out of a 737-200. Not only aren’t they the old biz seats, they’re not even very nice economy seats.

  4. I fly BOM-HYD on AI every week and saw these last week. I would be pissed off if I bought business class at 3x the cost of economy.

  5. These changes are being done only to those A320 aircraft ( VT-EXA, VT-EXB, VT-EXC, VT-EXD, VT-EXE ) that feature Y180 so that a repeat of Gaikwad incident doesn’t happen. They were initially planning to roll out premium economy on these aircrafts but later went ahead with this.

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