If there is anything you should know about me by now, it’s that I love airplanes!
It’s not uncommon for me to begin writing an article about the ‘miles and points world’ and become side-tracked after discovering a new livery, new airline route, or new airline all-together.
Sometimes, I become obsessed and spend all day trying to figure out how I can fly on a specific plane. Anyway…
Case in point, many of you know that I spent some time living in India a few years ago and there are some special kids that are near and dear to my heart living in Delhi and Kolkata.
After returning to the states, my goal was to visit them annually which I have been successful in doing …except for last year. There are no excuses as to why I didn’t make it considering how important they are to me. Therefore, returning to India has been near the top of my list of things to do this year.
In addition to booking other travel redemptions, I’ve been researching various methods to travel to/from India using points.
Last night, I stumbled across an airline that I am not familiar with and instead of completing another article, I spent 3 hours researching the “new” and fascinating Vistara Airlines.
WHAT IS VISTARA? (A.K.A. How 3 HOURS SLIPPED BY)
Founded in 2013 by the Tata Group and Singapore Airline, two companies known for their hospitality and excellence, Vistara first took to the skies in 2015, aiming to offer passengers a full-service luxury experience.
Currently, Vistara is primarily an Indian domestic carrier, however, they serve 5 international destinations including Dubai (DXB), Colombo (CMB), Singapore (SIN), Bangkok (BKK), and Kathmandu (KTM), with longest route being Delhi (DEL) to Singapore (SIN) at approximately ~2500 miles.
The airline operates a fleet of a few dozen planes, including A320s, A320neos, and 737-800s . However, the airline has big expansion plans with A320neos, A321neos, and even 787-9s on order.
This is a fascinating aspect because 787-9’s, particularly, are long-haul planes. Why would a domestic carrier be ordering 787-9’s??
The 787-9 has a range far beyond 2500 miles. In fact, it has a range exceeding 9,000 miles. I flew Turkish Airlines’ 787-9 on my recent 12 hour journey from Istanbul.
The aspect that I find really intriguing is Vistara holds a tiny sliver of the rapidly-growing Indian domestic market, but is gaining ground in a very important metric: customer satisfaction.
With comfortable seats, complimentary onboard meals (catered by TajSATS, the caterer for Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways), and friendly staff, Vistara seems to have checked all the boxes for a long-haul, international-grade airline, let alone a domestic one! It’s no wonder why the airline has rave reviews.
The Indian domestic market is known to be very price-sensitive, with travelers putting cost over anything else and showing little brand loyalty. This has allowed low-cost carriers like IndiGo, SpiceJet, and GoAir to capture the lion’s share of the market and has driven traditional full-service carriers like Jet Airways and Air India to financial ruin. Surprisingly, in this extremely competitive market, Vistara has steadily gained market share.
IT GETS BETTER!
Last year (2019) United Airlines and Vistara launched a codeshare agreement and this month that agreement has been expanded to include the ability to earn and redeem United miles on all Vistara flights.
It’s now possible to redeem United MileagePlus miles for travel on Vistara throughout their network. Flights are bookable directly through united.com, and award availability is readily available as most domestic itineraries start at just 8,000 miles in economy or 35,000 miles in business class.
BUT WAIT, IT GETS EVEN BETTER!
According to Flightglobal, Vistara CEO Leslie Thng is expecting the first 787-9 in February of 2020.
I began to search a little deeper and found that @PlanesAtPaine had actually captured a photo of the first Vistara 787-9 a few months ago arriving in Everett after receiving it’s new paint job.
In other words, the 787-9 could be in operation very soon. Look at that livery! 😍
I’m extremely excited to see that United has partnered with Vistara because United MileagePlus miles are easy to earn.
It remains to be seen exactly where the Boeing 787-9 will take Vistara but being able to redeem (and earn) United miles for travel on Vistara is awesome.
This may seem ridiculous but anything with the color purple speaks to my soul….and they have A LOT of purple!!
It will be an even cooler opportunity once they announce the first destination for their 787-9s and release award availability. Count me in! I have United miles waiting for this redemption.
Have you flown with Vistara? Will you fly with Vistara? Where do you think Vistara will fly their 787s?