After a Christmas and New Year family reunion in London, a frequent flyer explains why the best way to head back home to New Delhi is on Vistaraʼs Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
BY SIMON CLAYS
BIG BEN HAS JUST STRUCK 4 pm and winter’s darkness is spreading across London’s metropolis centre—the city’s West End is throbbing with New Year shoppers and the icy optimism January brings to the UK’s capital. For my wife and I, it marks the end of our annual Christmas sojourn to meet our clever clogs daughter. And now that it’s done—she’s heading north to the colder climes of Durham University—we’re flying back home East to the relative warmth of New Delhi.
Farewells are never easy, and we’re desperate to take the sting out of what Shakespeare described as “tedious leave”. So, this year we want to end the trip in style and are flying Business Class on Vistara’s Dreamliner 787-9 out of Heathrow Airport. We think it’ll be just the tonic required to silence the separation.
STEPPING INTO COMFORT
UK 18 leaves terra firma at just after 9 pm. For us, that seems the ideal time to take advantage of a full service, and still get a good night’s sleep on the fully flat beds of this luxurious section.
Also, as a frequent traveller (and aviation fan boy) I know Vistara’s Dreamliner has a herringbone configuration in Business Class, which means every passenger has easy aisle access. This might sound like an obvious choice, but you’d be surprised how many airlines still operate seating that requires you to clamber over strangers in the
dead of night.
As we board and are greeted by Vistara’s breezy aircrew, I snatch a gaze deeper down the aisle of the jet. It’s a sight to behold with its lofty ceiling, purple mood lighting, and claustrophobia-defying windows. I’m about to turn towards my seat when I see my old friend, Ashish, further down the plane, pushing his laptop bag into the overhead storage. He catches my wave, and somehow, using a single finger, I manage to explain to him I’ll come say hello once we get to
I settle into my pod, marvelling at how small the world we live in really is, while watching the crew prep for take-off. My wife is seated next to me, and is already sinking into the leather seat; her smile signals she may nap before take-off and the eyes tell me nothing is going to prise her from her comfort. Ashish, or anyone.
Of course, the aviation nerd in me has to explore every crevasse and compartment of my seat. So, before a pre-flight beverage is anywhere close to passing my lips, the amenity bag has been sifted through, the 18-inch touchscreen thoroughly mauled, the deck of seat controls, lights, and cabin buttons that lie on the left of my seat reckoned with, and the cubby storage relieved of its eye mask and socks. At some point, post dinner, they will become standard issue for the rest of
WHEN DREAMS TAKE FLIGHT
Take-off from London by night can be spectacular. The city is a sea of lights and hints of history, save for the inky, marker-pen squiggle of the Thames River that tears the tapestry in two. I drink it in, before a bank of winter cloud swallows us up and it’s over to the 787-9 to see off any slight jostle the January wind might fancy. The ascent is effortless, and before too long, the cabin lights signal we are at cruising height. As the seatbelt light fades out, a quick glance over at my wife says the seat has worked its magic (forty winks are well under way), and I’m off down the aisle to say hi to Ashish. I’ve flown every class on this particular Vistara 787-9 Dreamliner—a new kid on the horizon given that it emerged from Boeing’s airfield in Seattle just five or six years ago—and know each seat specification and the high standards of customer care and service that Vistara set.
I soon find Ashish and, luckily, the seat next to his, in Premium Economy, is unoccupied. As we chat about how he and I came to be in London at the same time, yet missed meeting, the aviation geek in me is admiring the seat’s pitch, leg room, and 13” screen. I remember
it as a sound option for the eight-hour or so hike back to Delhi. We part promising to meet up at Khan Market for a late lunch in early February to enjoy the city’s best weather in the year.
Back in my seat, it’s time to drift while I ponder the food and beverages menu before the aircrew comes to take my order. Maybe I’ll catch a movie before hitting the lay-flat button, or maybe listen to some tunes while I browse the inflight magazine. For certain this is the way to turn Shakey’s “tedious leave” into fonder memories. My wife agrees. “Maybe, next year, we’ll do it all again, but meet our daughter in Paris,” she suggests. I’m in, so long as it’s the Dreamliner flight