I Flew Economy Class On Air India. Here’s My Full Experience

Air India economy class

I flew economy class on Air India. My flight from Goa to Mumbai was cheap and about an hour, so I thought I’d save a couple bucks. Was that accomplished? Sure. Did I regret it? Maybe.

Air India has long had a reputation for not being great, and I can’t remember a time people raved about their experience. At the end of the day, the point of a flight is to safely get you from Point A to Point B, and Air India does that. What it doesn’t do is maximize comfort. The airline does catch up to the current innovations and features you can expect on other airlines, though seemingly *much* later, and maybe with half-hearted effort. It’s arguably not the worst airline, but it’s not the best. It’s definitely not in the Top 100 Airlines in the World.

But here’s the thing. It used to be the worst airline in the world, and travelers would avoid it like the plague. I remember flying Air India back in the day. The bathroom would be a disaster even before we reached cruising altitude, I’d find random, long hairs in my seat and the planes were barely put together. This isn’t a diss to India. I’ve flown Mumbai-based Jet Airways in both economy and business class, and I was blown away (the airline has since gone through bankruptcy).

I vowed never to fly Air India again about ten years ago, but I recently had a chance to try it out on a short flight. I flew Air India 684 from Goa to Mumbai on an A321 economy class last month, and I thought it was shockingly… fine.

Here’s what it was like.

Air India Economy Class Review

Before we even get to the flight, let me tell you one thing about Goa International Airport. It’s a bigger nightmare than this photo lets on. The airport is run by the military (it’s on a base), so before you even step inside, you have to clear security outside. You *must* have proof of a departing flight, whether it’s an itinerary or boarding pass. This isn’t like, the TSA line, where the agent just takes a glance at your boarding pass to see the stamp. The security dude sits there and reads through everyone’s itineraries carefully, so it takes forever. There’s also no order to the line. People were shoving their way through to the front, claiming their flight was leaving soon, and some felt entitled to be closer to the front because they had a trolley. It was weird. And annoying. You would think you’re trying to get into a freakin nightclub, but no. This is it. This is the entire airport. It’s small, there’s a smoking lounge, a few bathrooms, a few shops, and that’s it. We checked in on the kiosks, so thankfully we avoided the hordes of people at the check-in counter before going through a second security check.There are a few grab-n-go restaurants that had samosas that were not bad at 6 am.Here’s our plane! There was a flight every hour or so to Mumbai, and our flight was late, even before we checked in. Then we got notification it was late again. Then again. We waited two hours at the airport for an hour flight to Mumbai. Worse of all: our flight was at 7 AM, so we were up at 3:30 AM to get there (an hour drive). Once our plane arrived and we started boarding, there was just one singular line (no separate business class or priority). Luckily, I was already near the boarding gate, so I was among the first to board. After you clear the ticket agent, you stand in a second line where the military check your boarding pass again. It just felt much for a domestic flight.
Here’s our flight. It was pretty clean. There are 170 standard seats in a 3-3 configuration with no seatback entertainment. Economy class seats on this plane have 31 inch pitch and are 17-18 inches wide. This is fairly average/slightly below average for economy class. I had an aisle seat. The guy next to me in the middle had the audacity to ask me if I would like to switch seats (yes, in a serious way). Of course, I declined, and he was unhappy. The flight offered complimentary sandwiches that looked incredibly processed, and a jello thing, so I didn’t eat them. I was going to give it to my fellow passenger who asked to switch seats, but he was snoring. The meal came in a cute box, and I did love the fact food was offered on such a short flight. It showed some effort on Air India’s end.

All in all, that’s it. It was an hour flight. There’s not much to it. I watched Crawl on my laptop. The seats recline, and the guy before me reclined hard, so I had to recline my seat to watch my laptop, though this an uphill battle for every airline. When we were due to land, our plane was held in a holding position, so we circled for about 30 minutes. We arrived at Mumbai 3 hours later than scheduled.

Flying Air India wasn’t the end of the world. Sure, I was lucky to have an hour flight (which, incidentally, turned out to be a 3+ hour situation). If it was a longer flight, I would felt a little uncomfortable with no seatback entertainment, power outlets, the smaller-size seat and a snoring neighbor, but it was clean, and once we were in the sky, the flight crew was efficient and quite personable.

Verdict: For a short, hour domestic flight, it was not bad. It definitely wasn’t the worst. I think what qualifies as “the worst” is when the flight attendants are MIA, passengers are unruly, the seats are even tinier than Air India (for instance, Spirit Airlines averages a shocking 28-inch pitch and 17.75-inch width), there’s an odd odor, you do have seatback entertainment but it’s broken and only one bathroom works. I didn’t experience any of this on Air India. The most important thing to me is comfort, cleanliness and the check-in process. They were all fine.

Have you flown Air India? Let us know your thoughts below.

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