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I found myself flying on Vistara’s all-new A320 Neo from Delhi to Mumbai last month. As passengers boarded the plane with a jazz instrumental number playing in the background, I noted that the aircraft has a three-class configuration—Business, Premium Economy and Economy—instead of the usual two that one encounters on domestic flights. This gleaming aircraft is the first of the seven A320 Neos ordered by Vistara to start flying our domestic skies. The flight currently operates between Delhi, Mumbai and Srinagar. The second aircraft recently began operations between New Delhi and Bengaluru.
The A320 Neo (new engine option) is the result of a number of technological advances developed by Airbus recently. Apart from lower operating costs, the aircraft has an additional range of 500 nautical miles, two tonnes of additional payload and NOx emissions that are half the current industry standard. Even the engine noise is almost 50% lower than other aircraft. The aircraft is powered by CFM International’s LEAP-1A engine, which uses some advanced technologies such as fourth-generation 3D aerodynamics and a one-of-its-kind debris rejection system.
A big reason for its enhanced performance is the 24m-tall wing-tips called sharklets. These sharklets help lower fuel burn that results, I am told, in an annual reduction in CO2 emissions by an impressive 900 tonnes per aircraft! This could make a huge difference to the efforts in controlling greenhouse-gas emissions because almost five percent of the world’s carbon budget is consumed by airplanes alone.
The Business Class cabin features an elegant blend of Vistara’s distinctive brand colours, aubergine and gold. The seatbacks are wide and the leather upholstery luxurious. I was flying Premium Economy and the cabin featured the same colour scheme as Business Class. The seat had a nice, silky cushion that I immediately propped against my back. The height-adjustable headrest with wings is nothing short of a blessing, especially for people like I, who are happy to catch a snooze at the first available chance.
There have been times when I was on an early morning flight, enjoying the tangerine and golden hues of a lovely sunrise, when a sudden burst of harsh lights in the cabin ruined my view and mood. Vistara has that covered with the introduction of cabin mood lighting in its A320 Neo flights. A palette of colours ranging from light purple to sunset orange in pre-defined lighting scenarios creates a lovely ambience in the flight. The airline does not let you down when it comes to food either. I had an elaborate breakfast of stir-fried veggies, omelette and croissants. The airline has tied up with Starbucks and serves the best coffee I have ever had on a flight.
My verdict: Vistara’s Premium Economy in its A320 Neo offers you a world of comfort and hospitality, akin to flying Business Class, without burning a hole in your pocket.
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