5 Things Vistara’s IT Team needs to fix, PRONTO!

About six weeks ago, I wrote about a whole list of things that the Vistara management needs to fix in case it wants to bring back the Vistara experience in the coming days. Apart from moving the needle on adding non-vegetarian meals to economy class, which was more a move in line with Air India, Vistara has not moved much on any of the suggested initiatives. Maybe they will or not; I don’t know.

One of the many suggestions I had for the airline was to focus on their IT initiatives, which have died away recently. Unfortunately, the IT issues prompt the airline to falter on other customer service initiatives. For instance, a week ago, I had Vistara hang up on the phone on me a tonne of times before an appeal on Twitter made them call me back.

Unfortunately, my ticketing emergency happened on a day when Vistara decided to cancel a tonne of flights, and I was told the Vistara call centre was under tremendous stress because people were not provided with replacement flights after their flights were cancelled. Eventually, my ticketing issue could have been fixed online had Vistara worked on adequate IT solutions. Here are five things Vistara should fix quickly if they want to provide a modicum of customer service.

1. Make a Native app for vital mobile platforms

The app is the first port of call for an airline in today’s day and time. Those who travel either depend on their (human) assistants/ travel desks or on their phones to keep in touch with the world or their flight status and rebooking requirements. Unfortunately, Vistara’s app does not pass the muster on these requirements. The ratings indicate that.

Since someone wrote it better in the app’s reviews section, I would just let them do the talking.

It is no secret that Vistara has a largely inadequate app for the requirements of their customers and is not the best in class. A quick look at their rating on the App Store or the Google Play Store should tell you why. Here are the ratings of Indian airline’s apps on the Apple App Store:

  • IndiGo 4.7 Stars with 22000 Ratings
  • Air India 4.7 Stars with 44000 Ratings
  • SpiceJet 4.4 Stars with 6600 Ratings
  • Vistara 3.0 Stars with 390 Ratings
  • AirAsia India 2.4 Stars with 35 Ratings
  • Go First 1.8 Stars with 490 Ratings

And here are the ratings on the Google Play Store:

  • IndiGo 4.5 Stars with 191210 Ratings
  • Air India 3.9 Stars with 32065 Ratings
  • Vistara 3.5 Stars with 8181 Ratings
  • SpiceJet 3.2 Stars with 34601 Ratings
  • AirAsia India 3.0 Stars with 338 Ratings
  • Go First 2.6 Stars with 11719 Ratings

While IndiGo has prioritised digital innovation and has brought in a new person to lead Digital Efforts at the airline, Vistara has gone in the opposite direction, it seems. For instance, their app on the iPhone can’t even produce the Apple wallet passes for boarding passes, which show up automatically 3-4 hours before the flight or start showing up when you show up at the airport. These are all essential hygiene factors for any app, I believe. And the fact that they are lower than SpiceJet, an airline in shambles, should say something about the quality of Vistara’s digital efforts.

Vistara’s app is the website in the shape of an app. So, everything will go back to the website and fetch data again and again. And it breaks a lot in the whole process. Secondly, basics are not available as a capability on the app. You cannot redeem CV Points, for instance.

In July 2021, the Vistara CIO promised a better app… we are still waiting. Here is an excerpt from the Analytics India Magazine where he claimed Vistara was born in the cloud. Big Words, Small Actions.

Customer facing technologies: Mobile is very powerful in the aviation industry. People want to book their tickets on the go, accrue points immediately, and they wish to have the same experience on mobile as in the web-based apps. Therefore, a lot of upgrades are happening on the mobile applications, including in Vistara’s. We are embarking on a very big omni-channel digital strategy. 

2. Session Time Outs

For a seven-year-old company, this is at least a four or five-year-old problem, if not longer. If you are a Club Vistara member, you can log into your account and choose to stay logged in. That way, you don’t have to put your password in again and again to access your itineraries.

But… after a certain period of inaction, the Vistara website will throw you out. However, it will still keep your name flashing on the top right corner as if you are logged in. And then… you will get this in the middle of whatever ticket you are trying to book or query the system for.

And then, the Customer goes back, does a log-out from CV, and then can resume business. This is the smallest of things, but for whatever reason, it continues as of February 2022 at Vistara. It proves they are not interested in the details and don’t want to solve for customer feedback to get better.

3. Club Vistara

Remember how Vistara rolled out a new system one fine night without ever announcing downtime to their customers? It took them weeks to come back to some level of semblance and performance equal to the pre-switchover phase. Vistara went ahead and switched their Loyalty Management System but did not as much as give their customers a shout to complete their tasks before the airline went under for a while. That leads to moments like this.

Of course, Vistara did not deem it fit to reach out to affected customers and offer them compensation for all the errors caused at Vistara’s end. It has been six weeks since this IT Meltdown, and Vistara has not even publicly acknowledged that it ever happened.

4. Fix the errors coming up every day?

I’m not sure how many of you have flown Vistara recently and noticed errors in your bookings with the airline. The airline will randomly put on your ticket “Booking Might Be Disrupted, Flight Suggested to Change”.

Here are just three people wondering what happened to their tickets? And obviously not getting any responses from the airline.

A week ago, I got this heads up from Vistara, as I went over to the website to check-in for my Hyderabad – Delhi Flight. The reality is this is an error on the part of the airline they refuse to fix, which is adding scores to call on their customer care line without having any answers.

Oh, and if, for whatever reason, you take them up on the rescheduling option, it will lead you to a dead end. Then back to the phone calls.

5. Invest in Self Service Options

For an airline that has been voted as India’s best by many awards and polls, Vistara still lacks a simpleservice option for customer self-. At IndiGo, there is Plan B, wherein in case of changes and cancellations, you can rebook yourselves. Even SpiceJet launched this feature this past year. But no trace of a self-service option at Vistara so far. That means you have to Tweet/DM them or call them and spend a copious amount of time getting issues sorted because the call centre is no longer equipped for the loads.

Bottomline

Eventually, Technology is one big part of running an airline now. For a no-frills airline, the load of expectations is low because they are expected to only bring you and your bags from point A to B. But, for a full-service airline, the entire customer journey is looked at with a fine-tooth comb, and you risk losing a customer when you put them off at any stage of the journey. Vistara needs to hire some people right out of the startups of the day and have them in charge of solving the UI/UX problems and the IT integrations that are not working for the airline for months now.

What do you think is wrong with Vistara, and what is still working fine? Tell us in the comments. 


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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. I am a Club Vistara Member and get appalled at the services I get.
    Online complaints hrough thier site don’t get acknowledged. There is not even a courtesy of getting a reply or response.
    I sometimes do get surprised how this can be a Tata-SIA airline.
    Arijit

  2. Vistara trying to bankrupt itself. As it is, not turning a profit in the last 7 years is a clear indication of where they are heading. Competitors must be laughing at vistara’s attitude.

  3. My parents were booked on a Vistara domestic flight in January 2022. Due to Covid in family we called Vistara for a cancel and full refund (as applicable for Covid cases). However, Vistara agent suggested to keep the ticket open till June 2022 with a free change (fare difference applicable). Since, the trip was to be taken at a later date, we took the offer, not realizing that the senior citizen (or any other discount) goes void when the ticket is re-issued even with the same fare (as shown on the website). A cancel/refund of the original ticket and new booking would have allowed to avail the senior citizen discount.

    Not sure if this is an IT issue or just a trap by Vistara to force the customer to lose any discount originally offered.

  4. This is expected. Sadly Air India’s also gonna go to same fate. The apps being developed by TCS which basically pays one of the lowest in IT sector in India to actual engieers would only have employees who aren’t capable to switch to another higher laying companies or are waiting for an onsite opportunity.

    Since with Indian companies, there isn’t any onsite opportunity, these project get worst of the employees.

  5. And coming to think of it – nearly every global organisation in between mining to F1 are TCS’s customers of some sort. Pause and think again – TCS sort of drives the back end to some extent of them all, and yet the web experience of Tata’s own entities are stuck in the early 2000’s. Pathetic!!!

  6. In Vistara Andriod App you can not see the final amount with taxes unless you have filled all the passenger details. How ridiculous is that. Imagine checking fares for multiple dates for 6 passengers. Their IT department needs a huge upgrade.

  7. Hi, I flew Vistara in December, DEL-COK, CCU-DEL and DEL-IXC. The first two flights of approximately 3 hours duration. For a so called Full Srrvice Airline not to even offer a cup of tea or a hot beverage is a disgrace. On requesting tea I was advised by the flight crew they only serve to hot beverages in Business. Frankly I hardly found any difference flying between Vistara and Indigo. The Indigo flight crews are fantastic. And I can pay to have a beverage. I understand from the crew Vistara is cost cutting due to losses but if you cannot maintain the standards of a full service airline then they are going to lose business. Now I wonder how they are going to bring Air India back to the good old days of glory.

    • I had similar experience rather a little worse. Flew vistara in gau-blr sector which is blocked at 3hours and 15min. All I was offered was a tiny stale bread and some sort of bhaji. I am still not sure if that was pav bhaji or misal pav!! It was a tasteless portion. Rather prefer indigo

      • Hi Ajay, have you already blogged on this move to new platform by Taj? Their app is an even bigger disgrace than the Vistara app IMHO. You select date in calendar in the app when checking for booking, but it gets transferred as mm/DD/yy to the hotel search engine. So if you choose 5th Feb, it become 2nd May after the search.

        The IT experience is such a jarring mismatch to the warm hospitality at the hotels.

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