Airline review: SpiceJet economy class, Udaipur to Delhi

THE PLANE

Bombardier Q400, this aircraft was developed from the de Havilland Canada Dash 8. SpiceJet has 23 of them in its fleet.

THE ROUTE

SG2624, Udaipur to Delhi via Jaipur

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

SpiceClub. Members can earn credits for flights and other travel discounts, and also receive a discount on future flights as an inducement to book direct with the airline.

CLASS

Economy Class 3A, window seat, towards the front of the cabin.

DURATION

2 hours 40 minutes, including a 45-minute stop in Jaipur en route. Pushback from Udaipur is 10 minutes late, but we arrive at Delhi right on time.

FREQUENCY

Daily

THE SEAT

It's an all economy class flight with 78 seats in a 2x2 configuration. Seat pitch is generous. It feels like 81cm although SeatGuru has it at 76cm.

BAGGAGE

Checked luggage is limited to 15kg plus one piece of cabin baggage, maximum 7kg, which is standard for India's domestic airlines. Passengers who purchase additional luggage allowance when they book pay less than those found to be overweight at the check-in desk.

CHECKING IN

Airport security at Udaipur is very tight and managed by the military as elsewhere in India. Several times I have to produce my passport and boarding pass. Checked and cabin baggage is scanned more than once. Even cleaners get frisked before they can board the aircraft. Australian airlines could take a lesson here.

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COMFORT

The cabin is well cleaned and spruce. The overhead lockers look small but my full-size carry-on fits with no difficulty. The flight is only slightly more than half full and most passengers are travelling light. As a turboprop-powered airliner cabin noise aboard the Bombardier Q400 is greater than in a jet. There are several ancillary options to make your flight more comfortable including meals, seat selection, exit row seating priority boarding and "bag out first".

ENTERTAINMENT

No seatback screens and there is no entertainment available for screening to passengers' devices.

SERVICE

Brisk but friendly. SpiceJet gets a low customer rating of just 5/10 on Skytrax with staff attitude and performance issues as the main complaints, but there were no such problems with our flight.

FOOD

The Spice Café inflight menu lists club sandwiches, barbecued chicken sandwich, nachos, soft drinks, fruit juices, cup noodles, chicken biriyani, soft drinks and tea and coffee. Prices are moderate.

ONE MORE THING

Mine was a family booking and required a date change. I cancelled the original flight and re-booked without drama, although SpiceJet then held the refund, minus a fee, in what it called a credit shell, with the rider "This amount is refundable on request only." It wasn't until I asked SpiceJet's Customer Relations department via email what happened to the refund that I was told this information. If I hadn't asked, SpiceJet would have trousered the refund.

THE VERDICT

SpiceJet is India's largest regional carrier with its headquarters in New Delhi. The airline is essentially a low-cost carrier that also sells a range of holiday packages. The flight itself was pleasant enough. The main alternative for domestic flights is Jet Airways, which is more popular, and generally quicker since it uses jet aircraft on most routes, although Jet Airways gets the same 5/10 customer rating on Skytrax.

Our rating

★★★☆

Tested by Michael Gebicki who flew at his own expense.

See also: India for beginners - what you need to know

See also: Airline review: On board the first non-stop Perth to London flight

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