The 8 Best Domestic Airlines in India

The 8 Best Domestic Airlines in India

By CarolUpdated Dec. 3, 2021

India has several airlines that operate thousands of flights per week between many major cities across the country such as Delhi, Mumbai, and Jaipur and international cities such as those in Thailand, China, and the Middle East.

Some airlines provide complimentary meals and free in-flight entertainment while others charge for them. For extra convenience, airline websites offer online booking, web check-in, and flight status checkers for their passengers.

Passengers can now choose from full-service airlines, low-cost carriers, and several regional airlines when visiting India. Some of them include Air India, Jet Airways, IndiGo, SpiceJet, AirAsia India, Air India Express, GoAir, and Vistara.

The three we recommended most are Air India, Vistara, and IndiGo. These are the most reputable airlines, fly to the most destinations, and provide quality services.

Quick Facts

  • India boasts of more than 20 international airports and 81 domestic airports. The three most popular ones are Chattrapati Shivaji International Airport of Mumbai, Indira Gandhi International Airport of New Delhi, and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport of Kolkata.
  • Air India is India's government-owned, full-service airline based in Delhi that has a fleet of 109 aircraft which fly to 84 destinations.
  • Jet Airways is India’s best full-service airline which flies to 45 domestic destinations and 20 international.
  • IndiGo is the largest airline in India by passengers carried and fleet size and offers flights to 82 destinations, 60 domestic and 22 international.
  • India's new full-service domestic airline, Vistara, offers flights to 21 destinations in India, with a fleet of 11 Airbus A320-200 planes.
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Indian Domestic Airports

Almost every state in India has at least one major international airport and two or more domestic airports. The country has more than 20 international airports and 81 domestic airports serving the vast population. All airports are well-equipped with high-tech equipment and modern facilities.

The Indira Gandhi Airport in Delhi has three terminals which are Terminal 1, 2, and 3. Terminals 1 and 2 operate domestic flights for low-cost carriers like GoAir, IndiGo, and SpiceJet. Terminal 3 operates international flights to USA, Singapore, and Canada and domestic flights not operated in Terminals 1 and 2.

There are two terminals in the Jaipur International Airport. Terminal 2 is for domestic flights to and from other Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Varanasi. Domestic airlines such as GoAir, Air India, Vistara, and IndiGo will land here.

Maharana Pratap Airport in Udaipur has only one terminal and an asphalt runway which serves local and regional flights operated by Air India, IndiGo, SpiceJet, and Vistara between Udaipur and cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, and Bangalore.

The Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport has two terminals. Terminal 1 is used for domestic flights operated by low-cost carriers like GoAir, IndiGo, and SpiceJet. Terminal 2 operates other domestic flights like Air India and Vistara and all international flights like Air China, Cathay Pacific, British Airways, and Korean Air.

1. Air India - Largest Choice of Routes and Most Frequent Flights

Air India is India's government-owned, full-service airline. Based in Delhi, this airline has a fleet of 109 Boeing and Airbus aircraft which fly to 84 destinations, 48 of which are domestic and 36 international. Flights operate as early as 1:30 in the morning up to 11 at night.

This airline is known for its well-planned routes and flight schedules, efficient baggage handling, comfortable seats with plenty of legroom, and delicious complimentary meals on board.

Complimentary liquor or wine is also served on international journeys. Some of Air India’s international flights include London, Birmingham, Paris, Chicago, and New York.

Online booking, web check-in, and flight status checks are available on their website at http://www.airindia.in. The fare for an average flight from Delhi to Mumbai or Mumbai to Jaipur will cost around 2,800 to 4,300 rupees (US$ 40 to 60).

  • Carry-on allowances: 8 kg
  • Luggage allowance: 32 kg
  • Excess luggage fee (per kilogram): 500 rupees
  • Meal included: Yes
  • Seat reservation included: Yes
  • Credit card fee: No
  • Departs from: Indira Gandhi International Airport
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2. Jet Airways - Best Full-Service Airline

Jet Airways has taken the airline market in India and is now the best full-service airline in the country. This airline is primarily based in Mumbai, with secondary bases in Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, and Kolkata. Jet Airways flies to 45 domestic destinations and 20 international.

This airline is known for its outstanding in-flight service, food, punctuality, and baggage handling. Passengers can access an in-flight entertainment service and streaming content directly to their Wi-Fi enabled personal devices. Premiere and First class sections offer reclining seats, a flatbed, personal LCD TVs, and an in-seat power supply.

Currently, the airline has temporarily suspended all flight operations.

  • Carry-on allowances: 7 kg
  • Luggage allowance: 15 kg
  • Excess luggage fee (per kilogram): 250 rupees
  • Meal included: Yes (except economy class)
  • Seat reservation included: No
  • Credit card fee: No
  • Departs from: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport

3. IndiGo – Best Budget Airline

IndiGo is an Indian low-cost airline. This is India’s largest airline by passengers carried and fleet size and has its primary hub at Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi. IndiGo operates flights to 82 destinations, 60 domestic and 22 international. Flights are available 24 hours a day.

This airline is well-known for its punctuality, flight connectivity, safety, and customer service despite its low prices. However, it does not provide complimentary meals or in-flight entertainment. Passengers can an in-flight meal program. IndiGo does offer premium services like pre-assigned seats, multiple cancellations, and priority check-in.

The airline operates flights to European cities such as Athens, London, Vienna, and Zurich. They also offer more than 1000 domestic flights flying to and from cities like Bangalore, Lucknow, Chennai, Jaipur, and Kolkata daily.

Online bookings, web check-in, and flight status checks can be done on the airline’s website at https://www.goindigo.in/. Ticket costs for an average flight from Delhi to Mumbai or Mumbai to Jaipur is around 3,500 to 4,300 rupees (US$ 50 to 60).

  • Carry-on allowances: 7 kg
  • Luggage allowance: 15 kg
  • Excess luggage fee (per kilogram): 300 rupees
  • Meal included: No
  • Seat reservation included: No
  • Credit card fee: Yes
  • Departs from: Indira Gandhi International Airport
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4. SpiceJet Airlines - India's Second Largest Low-Cost Carrier

SpiceJet is based in Delhi and has hubs in Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Kolkata. The airline operates flights to 64 destinations, including 54 Indian and 10 international with a fleet of Boeing and Bombardier Dash aircraft. Flights operate from 1 am to 11 pm daily.

SpiceJet does not provide complimentary meals in any of its flights. It does sell full in-flight meals on some flights. The airline does offer premium services under the name SpiceMax, which includes pre-assigned seats with extra legroom, complimentary meals, priority check-in and boarding, and priority baggage handling at a higher fare.

The airline offers international flights to Bangkok, Dubai, and Hong Kong.

They also operate more than 600 domestic flights between cities like Delhi, Jaipur, and Bangalore each day.

For online bookings, web check-in, and flight status, passengers can go to https://www.spicejet.com/. The price for an average flight from Delhi to Mumbai or Mumbai to Jaipur is around 3,500 rupees (US$ 50).

  • Carry-on allowances: 7 kg
  • Luggage allowance: 15 kg
  • Excess luggage fee (per kilogram): 400 rupees
  • Meal included: No
  • Seat reservation included: No
  • Credit card fee: Yes
  • Departs from: Indira Gandhi International Airport

5. AirAsia India - Good for Those Traveling Light

AirAsia India is a low-cost carrier headquartered in Bangalore. The airline is the first foreign airline to set up a subsidiary in India and is a joint venture between AirAsia and Tata Sons. This airline flies to 17 domestic destinations with flights departing between 2:30 am and 11:30 pm.

Complimentary meals and in-flight entertainment are not available on these flights. Meals can be bought directly or pre-booked. Passengers are also charged for choosing seats and extra luggage. They do offer premium options for flatbed seats, quiet zone seats, and emergency row seats.

The airline operates more than 100 daily domestic flights to and from cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Kolkota.

Passengers can do online bookings, web check-in, and check flight status via the airline’s website at https://www.airasia.com/flights/india. The fare for an average flight from Delhi to Mumbai or Mumbai to Jaipur will cost around 2,800 to 3,900 rupees (US$ 40 to 55).

  • Carry-on allowances: 7 kg
  • Luggage allowance: 15 kg
  • Excess luggage fee (per kilogram): 300 rupees
  • Meal included: No
  • Seat reservation included: No
  • Credit card fee: Yes
  • Departs from: Kempegowda International Airport
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6. Air India Express –Low-Cost Airline Connecting India, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia

Air India Express is an Indian low-cost airline headquartered in Kochi, Kerala. It operates around 649 flights per week to 33 destinations. The airline focuses on providing flights to secondary cities in India and some Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian cities.

Although Air India Express follows is a low-cost carrier, they still provide their passengers with onboard complimentary snacks and tea or coffee. It is also possible to pre-book affordably priced a-la-carte meals.

For international destinations, the airline flies to Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait. It offers around 100 flights a day to domestic cities like Kochi, Delhi, Chennai, and Mumbai.

Online bookings and flight status checking can be done on their website at https://www.airindiaexpress.in/en. An average domestic flight from Delhi to Mumbai will cost around 2,000 rupees (US$ 20).

  • Carry-on allowances: 7 kg
  • Luggage allowance: 30 kg
  • Excess luggage fee (per kilogram): 500 rupees
  • Meal included: No
  • Seat reservation included: No
  • Credit card fee: Yes
  • Departs from: Cochin International Airport

7. GoAir – Flies to Remote Destinations

GoAir is a small privately-owned, low-cost carrier based in Mumbai. It operates a fleet of 21 Airbus A320 airplanes and flies to 35 destinations, including 27 domestic and 8 international. The airline also flies to remote destinations including Leh, Srinagar, and Guwahati. Flights operate between 12:30 am and 10:30 pm.

As a budget airline, GoAir offers no complimentary meals on its flights but has options to buy meals. They also provide a premium service known as Go Business at a higher fare which offers seats with more legroom, free meals, increased baggage allowance, and priority boarding.

GoAir flies internationally to Thailand, Muscat, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Kuwait City, Singapore, and Male.

They also operate more than 300 flights daily between cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, and Kolkata.

Passengers can go to their website at https://www.goair.in/ to make online bookings, check-in, and check your flight status. The average ticket price from Delhi to Mumbai or Mumbai to Jaipur is around 3,600 rupees (US$ 50).

  • Carry-on allowances: 10 kg
  • Luggage allowance: 15 kg
  • Excess luggage fee (per kilogram): 380 rupees
  • Meal included: No
  • Seat reservation included: No
  • Credit card fee: Yes
  • Departs from: Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport
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8. Vistara - Best Airline Staff

Vistara is India's new full-service and most luxurious domestic airline and is a Delhi-based joint venture between Singapore Airlines and Tata Sons. This airline operates flights to 21 destinations in India, with a fleet of 11 Airbus A320-200 planes. Flights operate between 12:45 am to 10:40 pm.

Vistara offers in-flight meals that are catered and headed by Chef Arun Batra, the former executive chef of the Taj Hotels group. Passenger can access Vistara World, the airline's wireless Wi-Fi in-flight entertainment system that offers movies of various genres.

The airline currently only offers international flights to Singapore and Bangkok.

They also operate more than 200 flights per day between cities like Mumbai, Leh, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, and Delhi.

Online bookings, web check-in, and flight status checks can be done on their website at https://www.airvistara.com/trip/. An average flight will cost around 4,300 to 5,000 rupees (US$ 60 to 70).

  • Carry-on allowances: 7 kg
  • Luggage allowance: 23 kg
  • Excess luggage fee (per kilogram): 500 rupees
  • Meal included: Yes
  • Seat reservation included: Yes
  • Credit card fee: No
  • Departs from: Indira Gandhi International Airport

Is it Safe to Take any Indian or Asian Airlines?

Indian airlines are generally very safe. Each airline flies hundreds of flights each week with very few accidents. So, you don’t have to worry about flying with an Indian airline as accidents are very rare.

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Insider Tips for Flying in India

  • Book your tickets at least 3 months before your trip.
  • It is advisable to reach the airport at least 75 to 90 minutes before to ensure a hassle-free check-in.
  • Web check-ins are allowed 24 hours before departure.
  • The cancellation and refund process takes about 3 to 5 working days for the amount to get credited in your account.
  • Cancellation and refund rates differ with each airline. You can check at the airlines’ websites to find out.

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