Whoever designed the name and logo for India’s low-cost airline, “IndiGo”:https://www.goindigo.in/, and their website address www.GoindiGo.in was inspired, especially as their colour scheme is of course, the colour indigo.
We found travelling by air within India straightforward, but there were some unusual features:
Before entering the airport terminal, tickets and passports must be produced.
Some airports allow your representative/guide in (on production of their pass), but others don’t.
Suitcases must be screened by your airline, prior to check-in and you get a sticker confirmation.
Check-in, 90 minutes before departure, could be either simple or horrendous.
All domestic airlines have a 15kg weight limit, but an additional allowance can be purchased either in advance or on the day.
Hand baggage must have an airline tag affixed, which is stamped once it has cleared security.
Men and women queue separately to go through security as women are taken into a private ‘tent’ to have the ‘gizmo’ run over them. Invariably, the ladies queue is always longer.
On most of our Indigo flights, we were offered the chance to upgrade to emergency exit seats for 800 rupees (£10) – this included a complementary drink. Alcohol is not served on domestic flights and Indigo sells a range of ‘Tiffin snacks’.
4 January – Udaipur to Delhi
We were in row 10 and quickly on board. No one joined us in the aisle seat and so once they announced the flight was fully boarded, Roy skipped over. He then noticed we were sat in row 11 which would have been empty. We just sat quietly and luxuriated over three seats although the leg room was reasonable. Our 1 hour 20 minute flight landed on time.
13 January – Varanasi to Delhi
One of our suitcases failed the scan because of ‘something small and circular like a button’. We couldn’t think what it was, and we were eventually let through without the bag being searched. My rucksack then failed the security check and we discovered that as well as taking out the laptop, I needed to remove my bag of cables. Sometimes, we found that our camera had to be removed and on others it went through: there was a lack of consistency. Before boarding, bags had to be opened again, there was a cursory glance and we were asked if we had any sharp objects: a complete waste of manpower. Once again, our 1 hour 35 minute flight landed on time.
14 January – Delhi to Kolkata
Interestingly there was no scanning of check-in bags at Delhi. Our two-hour flight was delayed for an hour due to fog which appears to be prevalent in January. We had seats 7a and 7b and again the 3 + 3 seat layout was completely full (we’d tried to get the aisle seat when checking in but to no avail). Prior to landing there was a lot of circling, and for some reason an aborted attempt at landing before we pulled back up for yet more circling.
19 January – Guwahati to Kolkata
An uneventful flight marked only by the fact that the queue for ladies to go through security was for the first time, shorter than the men’s queue.
21 January – Kolkata to Kochi (via Bengaluru)
Aisle seats always appeared to be taken, but it didn’t stop me asking. This time, the young man at check-in disappeared off and 5 minutes later, returned with two seats over the emergency exit for no extra cost. We hadn’t realised until the last minute, we’d be touching down in Bengaluru where we had to wait 30 minutes before passengers started boarding. It looked promising but we hung around on the tarmac for ages, and as a result, the second leg of the flight (40 minutes) landed 15 minutes late.
5 February – Kochi to Delhi
We agreed to sit across the aisle to get aisle seats as this was our longest flight at 3 hours. We found check-in, and even security, fast and were soon seated in the ‘parker knoll chair’ lounge. Our full flight set off before our scheduled departure of 7.25pm and whilst I had a nice young British couple next to me, Roy was next to “fidget man” and to add insult to injury, the man in front reclined. We landed early.
Always have all documents to hand as the Indian approach is check, check again and once or twice more for luck at various stages in the process.
Try to avoid having older men sitting on your inside: they invariably need to visit the toilet, often more than once.
Keep any delicate hand luggage out of the overhead storage if possible. Many passengers have large, solid bags that are just aimed at the space without care.
Budget airlines are relatively new and most passengers don’t understand what to do at any given time: the best approach is to take a breath, stand back and smile through gritted teeth.
All said and done, our overall experience was not too bad (however our next long haul trip is to Malawi where we can travel everywhere by road)!