Vistara on Thursday said it is resuming hot vegetarian meals for its domestic economy class passengers replacing the pre-packaged snacks that were being served since May last year due to the COVID-related guidelines.
The airline also announced new sets of in-flight meals for all classes - economy, premium economy, and business - on its domestic network.
Aviation regulator DGCA had permitted airlines in August last year to serve or sell pre-packed snacks, beverages, and meals on all domestic flights.
In April during the second COVID-19 wave this year, it asked airlines to serve meals only on domestic flights with over two hours' journey.
Vistara chief commercial officer Vinod Kannan told PTI on Thursday that the meal service was altered in May last year to reduce the time cabin crew spent on aisle and its interactions with customers.
The decision to offer pre-packed meals was based on a customer feedback that indicated they were not comfortable taking off their masks in-flight, Kannan said.
“A large number of passengers preferred carrying pre-packed meals outside the flight with them,” he noted.
Gradually, Vistara brought back hot meals on board, starting with business and premium economy cabins, but continued to serve pre-packaged vegetarian meals in economy class to maintain minimal contact between crew and the largest passenger section on-board, he said.
The decision to serve hot meals now has come on the back of an improved situation and more and more passengers getting both doses, the official said.
"We observed from our recent customer survey that passengers are now more comfortable consuming meals on board," he said.
"Therefore, from Thursday, we resumed serving hot meals in economy class for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks with a menu featuring customer favourites," he said.
In addition, the airline in a statement said the in-flight menu for all classes will be refreshed every three days and will include several options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks that are customer favourites.
“For instance, in Economy Class, breakfast options include Masala Uttappam, Medu Vada, Idli with sambar etc.; lunch and dinner options include Vegetable Biryani with Dal Makhani, Jeera Pulao with Chana Masala, and more; Masala Pao with Bhaji, Hot Garlic Vegetables with Noodles, etc. will be served as snacks on relevant flights,” the statement read.
Photograph: Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters