The entry of Zoom Air into the Indian aviation sector is good news for those, like me, who often have to visit smaller towns on short notice but find it difficult to book because of the lack of options.
This airline claims to be “India’s Newest Full service commuter airlines ofering convenient daily connections between city pairs”. It boasts of free onboard meal, ‘premier’ class, low fares (around 3000 INR per way) and even departs from New Delhi’s fancy T3 Terminal. Some airports it services are Durgapur, Jorhat, Amritsar, Dharamsala, Udaipur and many more although right now flights are only on the Delhi-Kolkata-Durgapur-Delhi route. They should be rolling out on the other sectors soon so things should be smoother.
The airline had its first flight on February 15 and I was quite excited to be one of the first few people to board two days later.
I know I am writing this piece after more than a month since its first flight but hey, what the heck!
Here are a few things I would like to review after my first trip on this airline:
1. Making Bookings
Bookings can be made on their website only (or at an airport counter, I suppose). However, keep in mind that you will have to book a ‘hopping’ flight since (in my case) we first flew to Kolkata (more than 2 hours) and then to Durgapur (about 40 mins).
This also means that they will issue you two tickets – one to Kolkata and one to Durgapur – which doesn’t make sense. In my case, they had even changed my seat from Kolkata, as also for my fellow passengers – from Kolkata onwards which caused a lot of problems for those who boarded at Kolkata.
2. Seat Labelling
Yes, this is an actual problem. While on the ticket the norm of AC DF seats are correct (as is the standard naming procedure for aircraft with four column seating), the actual seats inside the plane are named wrong (as in AB CD) so you can imagine the confusion that ensued!
I highly recommend not to take a heavy carry-on since the cabin bins are tiny, probably enough just to fit a laptop. The good part is that the airline allows you to carry 15 kilos as check-in baggage so you should be set that way.
For a small aircraft, the seating is quite comfy along with a good amount of legspace. Although there is one problem: unlike in larger aircraft, the window is a little below the normal level which means you will inadvertently crane your neck to look out and that is not the most comfortable thing on a long flight.
One thing good about the aircraft is that it is pretty silent and doesn’t make the ‘zrrrmmmm’ sound at all.
The airline claims to offer the best ‘hot’ meal onboard but I must warn you that the food is not good at all. They offered me a leathery, oily wrap and an oily ‘sub’ with a choice of Catch Cola (Orange or Black) and no hot alternatives. So skip the meal if you can.
The toilets are TINY. So you can imagine if a small person like me found it tough to use, what that would do to taller people. Also there is only one toilet (which is probably going to be soiled by less-than civil people) so please pee before you board!
The staff are new, which will be evident by the fact that the crew members read the safety instructions from the book. But rest assured that you are in safe hands! Plus they are very cordial.
My flight back to Delhi from Durgapur (Durgapur to Delhi direct) was on Tuesday and on Monday night, I got a call from them saying they had cancelled the flight due to technical issues. Imagine my plight! The next flight would leave on Wednesday which meant I would reach Delhi in the afternoon, a whole day later than I was supposed to (I had to book a train back, and we all know how difficult that is!). This is where I advise caution. Although they did refund my money within seven days so its cool.
All in all, I would give Zoom Air 3/5 stars since they service smaller towns, but there are some teething problems they should solve soon.
(Sorry for the substandard photos, all taken by my phone!)