The Tata Trilogy: An Ode to the Air India acquisition

Once an avgeek is always an avgeek. As I went through a cold January in Delhi, I have been trying to keep up with everything that is happening in the world of aviation and hospitality, given the beginning of the year is when new starts and announcements tend to happen. So, there was no travel planned on the cards. However, something tended to bother me at the back of my head, and that was the Air India privatisation.

I had last flown Air India on a trip in October 2021, between Lucknow and Delhi. That trip was nothing to write home about, and I could have flown IndiGo and it would be the same thing. Except for a larger baggage allowance.

So, I planned a trip on Air India’s Dreamliner out of Delhi to Bengaluru. While booking, I was trying to make a trip on or around the tentative date of Air India being handed over to the Tata Group to see how things were on the ground with Air India. Oh, and the additional experience to use my new Singapore Airlines Gold Status for the first time! Luckily, the Air India privatisation exercise was completed a couple of days before my trip.

I would have usually flown out to Mumbai, because of good lounge and all, but I had not been to Bengaluru in two years, so I thought about heading up there instead, and also checking out the new BLR lounge, which is now operated by the airport itself rather than Plaza Premium.

As I decided to take a ride out for a day, I figured, why not add on some more experiences to this trip.

I had never flown AirAsia India, which is currently a largely Tata-owned enterprise (contrary to its name). To be fair to them, this was not intentional, but they never came up my alley in the longest time. I usually try and keep a tab on Indian airlines, but then, sometimes life comes in the way.

However, as the Tata takeover of AirAsia India is completed in early 2022 by buying out the remaining stake from AirAsia Bhd, it is widely expected that AirIndia Express and AirAsia India be merged (even though they have different fleets!). It is an open secret at this time, and the only detail missing is the timeline.

So, one boring night, I got tempted to book myself a ticket on AirAsia India, before it was gone. But when it came around to making the trip work, I really did not want to be spending time anywhere on the ground because it was not needed. So, I wanted to do a quick in and out trip to someplace.

Ultimately, since I was thinking on the go, I figured, I might want to now make it a TATA Trilogy. So, I really went looking for a Vistara flight between Bengaluru and Hyderabad but turned out they had none. So, I flipped my plan on its head and booked AirAsia India between Bengaluru and Hyderabad. Even though I did not need a meal, while browsing the AirAsia India website, I discovered their gorgeous new Gourmair menu and decided I wanted to try some of their food.

From Hyderabad, I decided to fly back to Delhi on Vistara. As much as the airline seems to be going through an identity crisis right now, they did have flights to fly me back to Delhi. Because the fares were super cheap on Economy lite, I did not even bother with looking at the higher end tickets, to upgrade etc. Vistara’s recent attitude towards not upgrading passengers has made me suffer enough, and I did not want to be really suffering more thinking about an airline that did not care about their passengers anymore after building their brand promise on it.

As much as I wanted to add Air India Express to the mix, it was not workable. Since I was originating from Delhi, Air India Express has cancelled their domestic operations out of Delhi for now, and hence, there was nothing I could do.

Eventually, I wanted to build enough time in the airports for making sure that I did not miss any of the flights on this milk run, so a plan to do a 7-hour outing became a day-long outing after I added a return via Hyderabad to the mix.

The trip lined up like this…

Read along over the next few days to find out how did it all work out.

What are the things you’d like to hear about more on this trip?


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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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Comments

  1. What all courtsey, facilities and comforts you mention , I experienced the same nice things on the 26th Jan 2022 on my way from NYC to Assam, via Delhi T3.
    It was a pleasure and a pleasant experience
    Cheers to AI. Under Tata umbrella hoping even better

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