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Old Jan 9, 13, 9:48 pm   #1
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Understanding the India-based airlines: where do I begin?

I'm taking my family to India (first trip) in a couple of months, and I can tell that I may need/want to take an internal flight. All I know about the India-airline situation is that it's generally considered a mess. What can I read to get up to speed in understanding who I should fly and the best/cheapest way to buy tickets? Thanks.
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Old Jan 9, 13, 11:43 pm   #2
 
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Originally Posted by iahphx View Post
What can I read to get up to speed in understanding who I should fly and the best/cheapest way to buy tickets? Thanks.
1. Stick to Indigo / Jet for clean aircraft and decent food.
2. I personally use Cleartrip.com (Very clean interface) but you can try Makemytrip.com or Yatra.com as well.
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Old Jan 10, 13, 5:36 am   #3
 
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1. Stick to Indigo / Jet for clean aircraft and decent food.
Agreed! Indigo will probably be more cheaper but is quite good. and not sure in what way you consider it a mess - operations, policies, etc.?
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Old Jan 10, 13, 5:41 am   #4
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Its pretty much becoming like the US market: a few legacy airlines (Jet & Air India) with their usual plus (miles with many airline FFPs, full service, cash uprades to business etc) and minuses (weird staff) and a bunch of LCCs that go from decent and clean (Indigo) to the terrible (lets not go there).
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Old Jan 10, 13, 5:45 am   #5
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1. Stick to Indigo / Jet for clean aircraft and decent food.
2. I personally use Cleartrip.com (Very clean interface) but you can try Makemytrip.com or Yatra.com as well.
+1.

For domestic J in India, your two major options are 9W or AI. Most here, with a couple of exceptions, will suggest 9W.

Inflight it is 737 aircraft with 2x2 seats in J. Similar to US domestic (think AA on the Mad Dogs in domestic F!). The catering is much better than US domestics, and you will get hot meals even on short segments. No alcohol on domestic flights in India though.

If you tell us the route you may be looking at, we could probably suggest specifics as well.
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Old Jan 10, 13, 5:57 am   #6
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Thanks for the help, guys. I'm planning a 10-day vacation in India, flying into DEL. I'm working up a possible itinerary now.

So when I look at a route like DEL-VNS on cleartrip.com (not sure I want to fly this, but it's an idea), I see that Spicejet is cheapest. Is it OK to fly them? And is there a list of budget carriers I should try to avoid?
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Old Jan 10, 13, 8:16 am   #7
 
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One option to consider could be AI. They have these hopping tourist flights which operate solely to allow tourists to cover various circuits.

One such is DEL-JAI-JDH-UDR-BOM and vv operating with an A319. The other is DEL-VNS-HJR-DEL operating with a A320.

With a 7 day visit India pass, you can do DEL-VNS on day 1, spend a day or 2 there, then take VNS-HJR on day 2 and HJR-DEL on day 3. Similarly for JAI-JDH-UDR circuit.

In typical AI fashion, these cant be purchased online: your TA will have to do it. I have friends in france who bought this Visit India passes on AI from the Eurail booking office.
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Old Jan 10, 13, 8:28 am   #8
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Originally Posted by iahphx View Post
Thanks for the help, guys. I'm planning a 10-day vacation in India, flying into DEL. I'm working up a possible itinerary now.

So when I look at a route like DEL-VNS on cleartrip.com (not sure I want to fly this, but it's an idea), I see that Spicejet is cheapest. Is it OK to fly them? And is there a list of budget carriers I should try to avoid?
Spicejet is ok, enough that some heads of states/state governments in India fly it from time to time.
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Old Jan 10, 13, 9:14 am   #9
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One option to consider could be AI. They have these hopping tourist flights which operate solely to allow tourists to cover various circuits.

One such is DEL-JAI-JDH-UDR-BOM and vv operating with an A319. The other is DEL-VNS-HJR-DEL operating with a A320.

With a 7 day visit India pass, you can do DEL-VNS on day 1, spend a day or 2 there, then take VNS-HJR on day 2 and HJR-DEL on day 3. Similarly for JAI-JDH-UDR circuit.

In typical AI fashion, these cant be purchased online: your TA will have to do it. I have friends in france who bought this Visit India passes on AI from the Eurail booking office.
Looks expensive to me. And hard to imagine wanting more than a couple of flights in 10 days.
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Old Jan 10, 13, 10:20 am   #10
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Del-Jai-jdh-udr-Bom doesn't exist. They all are separate one stop to Bombay now.

OP make an itinery and let us know. Certain airlines on certain routes will be better than others. Depends on where you want to go and how. Ai has the Max legroom in Y. There are pluses and minuses for all airlines. And all will get you to your destination. If you are not very particular majority of India goes for the cheapest fare irrespective of airline.

Cheapest way to get ticket could also be the particular airline website. Or sometimes it's not. For some buying return fares makes more financial sense sometimes it's better to go for one way tickets. Start your basic search from cleartrip and take it from there.
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Old Jan 10, 13, 11:44 am   #11
 
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Reliability is not an issue for any airline in India relative to other areas of the world - all carriers have on time percentages over 80%, and are safe. If you are just looking for safe service from point A to point B, any airline will do you just fine.

If you are looking for Biz class, 9W is generally the best option, with the notable exception of a few Air India widebody domestic services, which have international-style beds.

If you are looking for economy, your choices are broken up into LCCs and full service carriers. The LCCs (6E, G8, SG, S2, 9Wk) charge for things like seat assignments and meals, while the FSCs (AI, 9W) provide those free of charge. The difference in fares between LCC and FSC is usually so low that I find the FSCs a better value proposition, but that is of course for you to decide.

I personally choose AI for most of my domestic travel, with SG as my second choice. Generally, the worst option is S2/9Wk (JetKonnect), because they charge FSC fares for LCC service. The main advantage of S2/9Wk, frequent flyer points, are lost on someone who doesn't fly 9W often.

Finally, beware that only 9W and AI fly out of the same airport as international airlines at DEL, in case you want to do a connection to an international flight.
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Old Jan 10, 13, 11:57 am   #12
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Reliability is not an issue for any airline in India relative to other areas of the world - all carriers have on time percentages over 80%, and are safe. If you are just looking for safe service from point A to point B, any airline will do you just fine.

. . .Finally, beware that only 9W and AI fly out of the same airport as international airlines at DEL, in case you want to do a connection to an international flight.
OK, thanks guys. Given that I'm looking at 1 to 1 1/2 hour flights, I'm not going to care too much about the service if it's safe and reliable. Which is sounds like all the choices are. And I see that even the discount airlines like Spicejet give you a free checked bag, so I don't think I'm looking at add-ons to making apples to apples comparisons. In this case, schedule and price will largely determine who I fly.

When you say that "only 9W and AI fly out of the same airport as international airlines," I assume you mean out of the same "terminal," right? So I'd need additional time to switch terminals if I wanted to make a connection. How much time is a good idea (not that I think I'll do this however)? There is only one "airport" in Delhi, right?
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Old Jan 10, 13, 12:01 pm   #13
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Yes he meant the same terminal. There is only one airport. All International flights and domestic operation of Ai and 9w are from terminal 3. Domestic operation of Spice jet , indigo and go air is from terminal 1.
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Old Jan 10, 13, 12:18 pm   #14
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And is there a list of budget carriers I should try to avoid?
in general, every airline in india is acceptable for the short durations you will be flying domestically....personally, i would just stick with jet if you want a full service carrier or indigo if you are flying with a llc....
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Old Jan 10, 13, 12:41 pm   #15
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As far as reliability goes, are cancellations are problem?

For example, I'm looking at an itinerary where I'd fly Varanasi to Delhi in the evening on Spicejet, and then connect to my int'l flight home the next morning. Being even a few hours late wouldn't be a problem for me, but Spicejet simply cancelling the flight -- and stranding me -- would, I would think, be a huge problem (not sure how KLM would react if I missed my flight home). So what's the risk? Small, or material?
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