Enlightened Venturer

Domestic Travel to India by Train or Plane

Domestic Travel through India by Train or Plane, which is best?  Train travel can be wonderful way to see India if you have the time and the patience. Unfortunately, trains in India are often late. Despite the train travel class you choose, it would still be wise to bring toilet paper. On the other hand, if you want to get somewhere quick then air travel is the way to go. My Flight from Varanasi to New Delhi was about an hour and we arrived two hours before whereas the train is about 12 hours given it is on time.

Currently, India has about five different domestic travel air carriers. By 2020, India is set to be the third largest aviation market (US And China are one and two). According to a report prepared in 2016 by KPMG and Ficci. On my recent trip to Varanasi, I used air travel to get back to New Delhi. Of the many air carriers, I chose Vistara. Their tag line is: Fly the New Feeling.

 

My Flight Experience

As we were boarding, they opened up the back and the front of the plane. How smart is that? My assigned seat was 17C so I went to the back of the plane. I was seated in my seat, leg room was good as well as the comfort of the seat. I thumbed through my seat pocket and found a newspaper. Since the fight was an hour, I thought it would be good to catch up on some Indian current affairs. All of a sudden, I saw a light. One of the attendants noticed I was reading and she turned on the light.

We began to take off and once we were settled in the air, the attendants started wheeling their carts. I was wondering what snack they would give as most hour domestic flights in the US barely give you a drink and perhaps they may through some pretzels at you. Not on Vistara, they actually give you a real snack and a beverage. They had a vegetarian option and a non-vegetarian option. I chose the vegetarian option. It had a Samosa like savory snack and a sweet muffin. I also got a coffee and a sparkling water. The attendants offered beverages, not once but twice. I was so impressed with the level of service and the kindness each attendant displayed.

Water bottle received with snack

For me, plane travel it is

If I am traveling domestically through India again, Vistara will be my airline of choice. The other domestic flight I took was from Delhi to Kolkata through GoAir. I was not as impressed with them. They seem to be the “Spirit Airline” of India. No complimentary food or beverage. Also, the seats did not have much padding on them. The only downfall to air travel versus train travel is to mind the weight limits domestically. One bag to be checked (20kg) and some flights state that 7kg is the limit for carry on. Keep in mind that Vistara has non-economy options that allow up to 12kg for carry on and 25kg for checked. However, I found they can be a little forgiving if they know you are flying internationally through another carrier.

Have you travelled domestically through India by plane or train? Which do you prefer? Share your experiences.

6 thoughts on “Domestic Travel to India by Train or Plane

  1. Soby

    India is my dream country. I’m very much into Yoga philosophy, and when I save enough money for travel, this is going to be the place to go for me. I was wondering about domestic transportations. Traveling by train seems to be a.very interesting experience, but I kinda worried if it going to be clean and comfortable… so yeah, flying might be a better optoon.

    1. Loresa Novy Post author

      Hi Soby,

      That is wonderful that you want to visit India.  With India, you often have to go with the flow.  My travel agent who lives in India, recommended it as train travel has not been reliable lately. Apparently worse than before.  However, if you are not on a tight time frame you should be OK.  I would still be sure to have toilet paper and a good filtered water bottle on hand. 

      I went to two asharams while I was there. I hope you are able to visit India and some asharams as well to feed your interest in yoga philosophy.  Please check back to my blog in the next few weeks as I will be sharing my experiences and the items I found useful to make my month in India comfortable.

  2. JennH

    Wow! I generally prefer train as my motus modus when I’m abroad (I enjoy the view of the terrain) but now I’m thinking plane in the case of India. After reading this I’m somewhat left wondering, what’s the catch, like, is the food they offer really not “food”? It’s too good to be true! Not to mention, they’ve developed the aviation industry so well, ahead of Western countries apparently, which tend to be the gold standard that developing countries like to measure up to. So why leave the rail industry lagging so far behind?

    1. Loresa Novy Post author

      Hi JennH

      Yes, air travel seems to be evolving quite well in India.  My last evening in India, I flew from Varanasi to Delhi. From there, I connected to my international flights. In my case, I woul not have trusted train travel. On the other hand if you have time, flexibility, and a very open mind, it may be OK as well. 

      The travel agent I worked with for connections within India (he lives in India), made all of my domestic transfers either car or plane.  To my understanding, he used trains in the past, but they have been more unreliable.  As for plane travel, not all airlines offer food, but I was very impressed with Vistara offered on my one hour flight with economy seating. 

      It really depends on where  you are. I wish I would have flown to Capetown from Johanasburg as the train was 27 hours . It was late and the sleepers were acceptable. In Europe, I would take the train as they tend to be on time and have toilet paper.   

  3. kumamonjeng

    Great info on train vs flight in India. Last time I traveled with flight to Keshmir from Dehli. I think it would be fun to try at least once on the train and yes toilet paper, thanks for the reminding 🙂

    1. Loresa Novy Post author

      Hi Kumaonjeng

      Thank you for your comment. Yes, it is always good to bring a few rolls of toilet paper with you. If you space allows, you may want to bring some from home. If you notice, the toilet paper you get in India does not have as many squares on a roll. Yes, The train would be a good option to see India from a train window. Just be sure you have enough time and expect the possibility of delays. Happy traveling!

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