It’s an airline that started with the promise of delivering a premium experience to Indian flyers. Ever since it started flying in January, 2015, Vistara has tried to keep that promise. It did deliver on a difference in experience, not just in its Business and the first-time-in-Indian-domestic-flights Premium Economy classes, but even in ‘cattle’ class. Let’s just say, with a marked difference in the experience—in the welcome experience, the décor and, most markedly, the food served onboard. There were a few critics, but the response was more in line with the experience of one of the parents—Singapore Airlines (it must be noted that when the other parent, the Tatas, did operate their planes, their high standards were widely acknowledged as well).
It was with rather high expectations that I looked forward to Vistara’s first lounge, located in the domestic part of Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport. I was piqued to discover the location of the lounge—in the long passages that characterise the airport. Given that all other lounges at the airport are clustered in the retail and food court area, or really tucked away inside the airport, this was a surprise. It turned out that the location was something the airline had specifically requested for, so that its passengers could be close to the airline's departure gates. Hmm…
It is easy to spot, a sleek enclosure in the airline’s distinctive purple near Gate 41. Inside the 250 sq m space, there’s seating for 75 people. The lounge offers wi-fi, dining facilities, a recliner zone, business centre with individual work stations, a reading room, a bar that will serve premium spirits and a VIP room. Yes, it isn’t as large as some you may have been to, even at this airport, but it definitely seems like an oasis after the long walk on the mustard-brown airport carpet.
Creditably, the ambience and décor of the lounge aim at international standards. The lounge lends a feeling of comfort through a mix of seating options and soft lighting, giving passengers a chance to rejuvenate. Add orchids, of course in the Vistara hues, and a few bonsais strewn around, and you could mistake it for a hotel lobby. Premium hotel, of course.
While a variety of seating options is not unusual in a lounge, what is more unusual is that all the seats are single seaters. Groups could sit in clusters. Vistara’s Business Class customers are usually from the corporate sector, and travel singly, reasons the airline. Comfortable sofa leather seats are accompanied by tiny adjoining wooden tables—suitable only for a small laptop. Helpfully, all seats are provided with charging points. Alternately, the recliners, also couched in the Vistara colours, are a good place for a power nap. Or for watching flights take-off and land. There are high chairs/bar stools too. Adding a dash of colour are yellow bands on the walls.
A highlight of the lounge is a cocktail bar, in the shape of the Vistara star and offering fantastic views of the runway. There’s a wall with a lot of Glenlivet bottles—a holdout of future promise (the bar licence wasn’t in when I went, but expected soon). The gourmet cuisine—changed thrice a day—will hopefully replicate the onboard experience. Expect sandwiches, pasta, salads, and healthier snacks than are usually available at airports in India.
There is a smallish VIP room with a large screen TV, distinctive seating and a door that can be closed for further privacy. This lounge is unlikely to elicit a wow a la the Turkish Lounge at Istanbul, but Vistara’s brand promises of personalisation and seamlessness are amply reflected. Yes, a board shows departure times for all Vistara flights, a reminder that there is a world beyond this airport oasis.