Vistara has been one of the new-gen airlines that focussed on how it will project itself to the public apart from providing an airline service. The aviation business is, after all, as much about brand-building as it is about delivering people from point A to point B. Because staying in the news means more people want to fly your product. Just look at Virgin Atlantic and Emirates, and you know what I’m talking about.
And in that spirit, Vistara threw a grand bash in the air on their Eighth anniversary. On January 9, 2015, Vistara took its first flight between Delhi and Mumbai. Yours truly was one of the passengers on the first flight. And from there, I recently received an invitation to be on the super secretive commemorative flight.
With nothing much known, I signed up for it, knowing it would be a day-long affair right after returning from a slow vacation from the UAE to Mumbai. And then immediately dashed from the Mumbai Airport to Delhi because Vistara was flying people from Delhi to Thiruvananthapuram to get on this commemorative flight.
We are completing 8 years of the new feeling and are ready to paint the skies aubergine!
Watch this space to know everything we have planned for this special day. pic.twitter.com/evdrMMsyCI
— Vistara (@airvistara) January 8, 2023
Vistara brought together a bunch of employees, many Indian plane spotters and a few customers, along with some management personnel for this celebration flight. They split up people flying from Delhi to Thiruvananthapuram on two separate flights, one operated especially for the day only, and one an upgrade from the usual all-economy A320neo operation to a flat-bed business class equipped A321neo.
We flew out of Delhi to Thiruvananthapuram on Vistara’s newest aircraft, an A320neo registered VT-TQO that was delivered to them on December 31, 2022, and put in service on January 6, 2023. So, it had the new plane smell still. Before the flight, there were a whole bunch of pictures taken at the gate for this special flight.
Then off we went to Thiruvananthapuram on a flight that was delayed by an hour due to dense Delhi fog. Never mind that the delay threw the crew off, and they ended up serving me an omelette for breakfast when I requested a vegetarian breakfast. After a three long hour flight, we arrived at TRV, about an hour delayed and pulled over next to the A321neo, which would be used for the special flight.
We went over to the terminal, where Vistara’s Brand and Marketing team, along with the AI-SATS team was already interspersed through the terminal to help us with a welcome, and take us to the departure secure holding quickly after handing us out our special boarding passes for this Thiruvananthanapuram – Thiruvananthanapuram flight.
For those who directly arrived in Thiruvananthapuram rather than flying with Vistara from Delhi, there was a separate check-in counter at TRV, with the UK08 branding and all.
After a quick security process on a largely empty TRV terminal 1 transfer desk in the afternoon, we were ready to board.
There was a goody bag for everyone on board, and these were handed out right before boarding.
The airline created a sterile area around the plane on the tarmac, and did some pictures before we got on board. Avgeeks and influencers went nuts lining up for pictures on the engine.
Onboard Vistara 8, the commemorative special flight.
Once on board, we had a special welcome, announcing the 8 years of Vistara.
I was flying in the business class cabin of the A321neo for the Vistara 08 special flight, along with Vistara CCO Deepak Rajawat, head of corporate communications Rashmi Soni, head of marketing Deepti Sampat and head of cabin safety Juanella Colaço, and some other Vistara customers and Heads of Departments.
There were enough plane spotting enthusiasts to fill up the entire Premium Economy cabin and at the back, there were the Vistara employees, who were all lined up at the window seats. Premium Economy and Economy also had these special head rest covers.
Since we were running delayed because the delayed arrival of the incoming aircraft, we went through the boarding process quickly and prepared for take off. Cold Towels were distributed to everyone.
We had Captain Angadeep Singh Chopra come on the PA system and tell us about the flight plan for the day, which included drawing up a sky art of the number 8 in the airspace off TRV.
The captain informed us about the 101 NM long, 53 NM wide and a total of 340NM of flying, which will be done to create this number in the sky. Watch his announcement here.
The special announcement by Capt. Angadeep Singh Chopra is whose command @airvistara became the first commercial airline in India to draw number ‘8’ in the sky at 24,000 ft. Indeed #AflightToRemember as #VistaraTurns8. ♾️@flightradar24 https://t.co/rlGZi434NW pic.twitter.com/GyqNbTut8s
— Amit Agarwal (@AmitAgarwal22) January 9, 2023
And then, we were off into the skies again, my second flight on VT-TVE on two consecutive days (I had flown it for BOM-DEL the day prior as well).
Vistara had curated a special meal for everyone on board this special flight, and menus were distributed.
Here is a look inside at the menu, which was catered by Uday Sky Kitchen, based in Thiruvananthapuram. There were vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, both with Indian and Western choices for everyone.
Soon enough after take-off, meal service was done. I went with the Chicken Parmigiana, which, by the way, was very nicely done.
There was also a number 8-shaped dinner roll for good measure.
The dessert service also had a nice edible “8 Years of Vistara” on top.
While Vistara intended to switch on their wifi for this flight, that did not happen and in spite of the best efforts of the Panasonic engineer on board, we could not get the wifi up and running. So, we resigned ourselves to seeing the very triangular 8 being drawn up on our onboard monitors.
But this is how people on the ground, with live Internet connectivity could see it. A perfect 8.
After meal service, a lot of pictures were done on board, and even some videos and bytes done. I’m guessing a promotional video would be out sometime soon. Here is a picture of the crew on board who operated the flight, along with CCO Deepak Rajawat.
Oh, and here is what was inside the goodie bag handed out by Vistara.
The flight lasted for 2:28 hours, and later, I also got to see the special NOTAM issued for earmarking the airspace for this flight.
Once we landed back at Thiruvananthapuram, some people stayed on board, as they were flying back to Delhi on VT-TVE itself in the evening. The rest of us were herded back into the terminal to be handed over our next boarding pass. By now, I was ready to pass out, but my flight was delayed by 50 minutes, and hence, I had no option but to wait in the terminal. Once again, VT-TQO would take me back to Delhi, and a similar incident akin to the morning flight happened! We arrived in Delhi at about 10:20 PM, a full hour of delay from the original plan, and luckily I had a car already waiting on me to take me home.
It was a pleasure to be on board Vistara’s A321neo riding UK08 with them. Indian aviation did not usually engage with their audience, and Vistara was one of the first to change that (others such as Jet Airways, IndiGo and StarAir do so as well), but it was impressive what Vistara achieved with this flight. Such endeavours cost money and a lot of commitment from airlines, and I’m told this flight was in the works for months before it really happened. So congrats to those who were involved in the planning and execution of the flight.
What are your thoughts on Vistara turning 8 years old?
[PS: Vistara issued complimentary tickets to yours truly and everyone who participated on this special event to transport them from Delhi to Thiruvananthapuram and back to Delhi, apart from the commemorative flight itself.]
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Nice Ajay that you got invited for this special flight. Not sure what vistara achieved by doing so when their basic services are still so terrible. On their business class flights to Singapore they hand out menu but nothing on the menu is available! They don’t provide any amenity kit nor basic socks for overnight flight in business class. Worst is their blankets are not even longer than 5 ft! Provided this feedback over and over but no improvements! Worst of all they credit Miles to LH FFP when ur boarding pass has UK FFP number! How wrong can any airline go! Learn from Vistara!!