As the Winter peak period rolls around, there will be many holiday seekers, trying to get away from the cold. One of those places that is quite frequently visited during this time of year is New Delhi, the capital of the Republic of India. In addition to the tourists swarming into the country, the United Kingdom has a very large Indian Community, and therefore thousands of flights each year leave London bound for New Delhi. The route is constantly in demand and many airlines fight for passengers, with the main players being British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Air India, and Vistara. All of the 4 airlines operate direct flights, coincidentally they also all operate the 787 Dreamliner on this particular flight. All airlines also offer vegetarian meals as well as Hindu & Jain meals. Let’s take a look at which airline is the best to fly on this route! This article will take into account 5 factors:

  • Comfort
  • Cost
  • Inflight Entertainment
  • Customer Service
  • Catering
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British Airways

British Airways Economy Class on the 787 (Credit: The Points Guy)

British Airways offers 3 different travel classes on its London- New Delhi flights, they are Business, Premium economy, and economy class. All of these are available on this route (as of October 2022). British Airways may not be the cheapest option but the seats are great and the service is alike. Their IFE features a broad range of films, covering many genres, including Bollywood movies, there are over 7000 digital magazines and books provided by British Airways for download digitally as well. Inflight WiFi is available on the majority of British Airways aircraft meaning it is also available on this particular route. BA’s catering is known to be decent, not exceptional, and not awful, it stands somewhere in between. During the winter peak period, an economy return ticket costs £1401, a premium economy return costs £1995, and a business return ticket costs from £3840 to £4426. An off-peak ticket costs around £1000 to £1400 less. Personally, I have never flown them long-haul, but at a glance, I would say that they are towards the high end of the spectrum. Skytrax rates British Airways as a 4-star airline.

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Air India

Air India Economy Class (Credit: traveller.com.au)

Air India, definitely isn’t the best airline to fly on from this list and holds a negative reputation. However, they fly a decent fleet of aircraft, with an average age of 9.9 years. Air India has 2 travel classes on this London to New Delhi route, Business class or what they call “Executive class”, and economy class. The tickets are a little cheaper than those British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, but the difference isn’t a lot, so you’ll probably be better off flying them instead. During the winter peak period, an economy class return ticket costs from £775 to £1350, and a business class return ticket costs from £1600 to £2200. Like British Airways, off-peak tickets are around £800 to £900 cheaper. Air India is notorious for its unhygienic cabin, in 2019, a passenger on an inbound Mumbai flight found a cockroach in his breakfast! Air India’s cabin crew also aren’t known for being very friendly or known to offer the best service either. It doesn’t put the airline in a good place at all. Fortunately, the catering is said to be decent if you take the Indian meal option, the continental option isn’t deemed to be great. It only gets worse for Air India, the IFE screens have a trend to malfunction and the user interface is outdated, however, there are a decent amount of film genres to choose from. According to multiple TripAdvisor reviews, the seats are often “broken” and if they aren’t in a state of disrepair they are “scratchy” and “uncomfortable”. As you can probably tell, sadly, Air India is probably the worst airline to fly on from this list. Skytrax rates Air India as a 3-star airline.

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic’s 787-9 economy class (Credit: Live & Let’s Fly)

Virgin Atlantic could be better than British Airways, known for its friendly cabin crew, great seats, and being a child-friendly airline. Unfortunately Virgin Atlantic is definitely the most expensive out of all the airlines on this list, they also provide 3 classes of travel, economy, premium economy, and business. A peak winter period return ticket will set you £2220 in the economy, £3700 in the premium economy, and a whopping £4994 in business! Even if you’re traveling off-peak it’ll cost you a lot less, £590 in the economy, £976 in the premium economy, and finally £2600 in business. Virgin Atlantic’s catering is not too bad, and not great either, it sits somewhere in the middle. Virgin’s IFE system is modern and easy to use, it features over 1000+ films and entertainment options available to watch. Overall, if you have a lot of money to spend, then Virgin Atlantic is the perfect choice for you. You pay a high price, and you get a high-standard flight. Skytrax rates Virgin Atlantic as a 4-star airline.

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Vistara

Vistara economy class (Credit: takeoffwithguru.com)

Vistara is a relatively young airline, a joint venture between Singapore Airlines and the Tata Sons company. They operate the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner from London Heathrow to New Delhi Indira Gandhi Airport. In terms of cost, they are not the cheapest option. During the winter peak period, an economy one-way ticket will cost from £870 to £1580, quite a large range; Premium economy will cost around £200 more. Unfortunately, the website was malfunctioning while researching, their website malfunctioned and didn’t show the business class option. Vistara’s customer service generally gets positive reviews, and the catering is also offered to be quite good. According to TripAdvisor, the seats are comfortable and spacious with an ample amount of legroom provided. Vistara has been rated as a 4-star airline by Skytrax.

Overall Conclusion

The question still remains, what is the best airline that flies direct from London to New Delhi? If you’re traveling on a budget, then Air India would be a sensible option. However, if you have a few thousand pounds to stretch then I would recommend Virgin Atlantic. As an overall winner, I would say that British Airways provides the best on this route, the price isn’t the lowest but all the other factors top the rest of the airlines on the list.

By Tantawat H

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