Vistara Airlines’ inaugural international service to Singapore from Delhi was at once a flight going back in time and into the future.
The airline checked in passengers for its Singapore flight at the same check-in counter from where it checked in its first passengers for its debut flight, in January 2015.
In 2015, Airbus officials along with other dignitaries and passengers boarded the A-320 aircraft for the Mumbai flight. This time it was the turn of Boeing officials to board the aircraft the flight signalling Vistara’s international foray.
For Rishi Kochhar, a 32-year-old who runs a think tank in Amritsar, none of this mattered. What was important was that by virtue of checking in online 48 hours before the flight, he became the first passenger to check in for the inaugural flight.
“I was keen to see how the system of picking the first is done. I had seen it before and was sceptical about how they choose. But it seems to work,” he laughed.
For Kocchar, travelling to Singapore for a seminar, it was the price, the timing and the chance of flying an Indian carrier that tilted the scales in favour of Vistara.
“I booked about three weeks back and was able to get a return ticket for about ₹21,000,” he said.
Clearly, the airline had spent a lot of time and effort to make its international inaugural flight memorable for its flyers but all this work could have come to naught as the security personnel standing at the entrance were unaware of Vistara’s global operations.
Scanning one such flyer’s identification, an official at the entrance to the airport said, “ Arre sir, Vistara is a domestic airline. How have you got a ticket to Singapore?”
When it was explained that the airline was launching international operations, he allowed the passenger in. Vistara is a joint venture airline between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines.
(This correspondent is in Singapore at the invitation of Vistara)