Background I travel to India from Hong Kong a lot for business and oftentimes I also take domestic flights in the country. As with my other flights, I booked this one online through Kingfisher’s user-friendly system. The airline has three weekly flights on this route and I chose the evening one, scheduled to depart at 1830.

Check In Lohegaon Airport is about 20 minutes from central Pune on poor two-lane roads. It can take 15-20 minutes more in rush hours. The airport is less efficient than those in Delhi and Indore and it does not give an impression of seeking to care for passengers.

I was not met at the drop-off by a Kingfisher rep, unlike on other legs of my trip. After the entrance door security check, I found my own way to the baggage screening and then to the check-in desk, which was close by. The desk was less smart than in the other locations and signing looked ragged. Check-in was indifferent but efficient. I was offered a choice of seat. I walked undirected (airport signage is poor) to the hand baggage security check around a corner some 150 metres away.The airport’s domestic lounge is clean but neither spacious nor attractive. Perhaps because of the rather small space, it felt very busy and congested. There are some shops, several food outlets and a number of restaurants and lounges.

Boarding Departure was 10 minutes late due to delayed arrival of the aircraft. The aircraft had to be reached on foot and there was a little confusion when two lines
of passengers crossed on
the tarmac.

Seating The seats, upholstered in red fabric, were clean but rather tired. They also reclined by themselves uncontrollably and there was little legroom.

Flight There was an entertainment system at every seat, with a small selection of video and radio channels in Hindi and English. The system opened with an impressive personal welcome from the chairman of the company. The in-flight magazine this time focused on successful Indian women, featuring a series of in-depth and well-written articles. There were no newspapers or other magazines to read. Drinks – water and lemon juice in bottles or cartons – were offered before meals were served. The choice was either baked curried chicken or curried fish. As with many of the meals I have had on Kingfisher, it came with a separate serving of spicy lentils and a sticky, overly sweet chocolate pudding, together with water and tea or coffee. The flight attendants were friendly and effective. The flying time was five minutes over the scheduled two hours due to holding at Delhi and the flight arrived 15 minutes late. Punctuality was not perfect but passenger notifications of flight status were good. I spoke to hotel staff and airport pick-up drivers at many airports and all were unanimous that Kingfisher has the best record of domestic punctuality in India.

Arrival I touched down at Delhi Indira Gandhi International Terminal 3 at 2045. The aircraft approached the wrong gate and had to be re-diverted to an area away from the terminal. Steps took 10 minutes to arrive after the door was open and we were shuttled to the terminal by bus. Terminal 3 domestic arrival area is spacious and nicely designed, and the walking distance to carousels short. I waited 25 minutes at the carousel for my luggage and then headed out to
the landside.

Verdict Like many of my other experiences with the airline on this trip, this flight was pleasant enough and I would gladly repeat, though without the food. If you want business class, you must travel by other means. If not, Kingfisher is comfortable and cost-effective.

Nigel Collett

Plane type A321

Number of seats 199

Seat pitch 31 inch/79cm

Seat width 18 inch/46cm

Seat recline 28.5 degrees

Price Internet rate for a round-trip ticket in mid-July starts from INR7,019 (US$156.30)