SRI LANKAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS BKK – COLOMBO (FLIGHT UL403): REVIEW

Flight: UL403, BKK – CMB (16 May 2019)
Loyalty Scheme: FlySmiles (a partner of the Oneworld program) 
Frequency: Numerous flights daily
Duration: 3 hours and 25 minutes

For a while I had seen a positive movement in the brand Sri Lankan Airlines. Media and reviewers online as well as friends of mine have flown the airline of late and have come back raving about the great, hospitable service of the airline. Some were quite surprised considering the airline in general seems somewhat a tad daggy in terms of its branding when I compared it to its fellow Oneworld airline partners. As part of my recent trip to Israel I had the opportunity to connect via Colombo and in turn fly on Sri Lankan. So how did the airline fare? TAT boarded Sri Lankan from BKK to find out…

The Seat

ImageBusiness 1K. Being an A320, the general rule of thumb with business is that lie flat is a no go with recliner the choice of many of these airlines who operate this aircraft. The green and brown leather seating looked smart and fresh (the seat seemed as though it was recently reupholstered). Each of the 12 business seats also had a USB port (handy for charging phones etc), a 110V AC port in the seat and seatback IFE.

Entertain me

Like the seating and interior itself the inflight entertainment units (in seatback format) were relatively new. The screen was a decent size but sadly the choice of entertainment was quite limited. I would have liked a larger range of movie and music choices.

The Bread and Butter (food and drink)

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When I first boarded I was offered a choice of juice or water as well as a hot towel to refresh myself before takeoff. Once airborne the flight attendant come through with a lovely little menu booklet that was more than just a menu; it also provided a backstory to the cuisine as well as recipes from Sri Lanka should one wish to take the menu home. For a three hour flight the menu wasn’t extensive but the options were decent. For main there was a choice between the Spanish omelette, teriyaki chicken thigh, the red snapper or the vegetarian pad thai. I went with the snapper which was a good choice with the flavours coming through the ginger sauce and soya noodles.

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Like the food selection, drinks were also limited.Tats said the choices were diverse with everything from the delectable champagne Piper-Heidsieck to the Swartland Chardonnay from South Africa. I’m a big fan of Piper-Heidsieck for its star fruit and pear notes, so naturally this was my go to choice for my meal and it did not disappoint.

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The highlight of the drinks and meal service was the tea service. With tea so synonymous is Sri Lankan culture, it was only fitting to experience some of its quality teas onboard. There was a tea menu were passengers could selects from several tea options. I order the ginger which came out beautifully presented on a silver tray with some tea condiments such as lemon and peppermint , should I wish to add it to my tea. The tea was divine and made the experience of tea drinking a little more fun.

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Well after meal service has finished I found that the flight attendants were going above and beyond to give their passengers attention with both the flight attendant and cabin manager asking if I would like anything else or a top up of my drink despite not seeking their assistance. For me that showed an airline who puts the customer at then heart of what they do and it definitely beat strongly within Sri Lankan.

Verdict

Sri Lankan surprised me in a good way. Despite its positive feedback from online forums it’s hard to get a gage of the plane and its staff/ services until one is on board. Sure the product from the seat to the IFE didn’t have any major wow factor but their services and food/ drinks were of a strong standard. The tea service was a highlight and I definitely struggled for a while deciding on what tea to enjoy/ try. After this flight I will definitely choose to fly with Sri Lankan next time to Colombo.

Comment

Have you ever flown Sri Lanka airlines in business class? Was your experience comparable or better than expected? Keen to hear your thoughts.

 

 

QANTAS SYD- SAN FRAN LEG TO GET B787

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Like many of you I’m a fan of the B747 but unfortunately her days are numbered with several of airlines. The Queen of the skies is heading for retirement with Qantas by the end of 2020. Some routes will see her depart sooner in the interim with Qantas announcing that she will be replaced by their Dreamliner B787 on its Sydney – San Francisco route. The B787 will move take off daily from 4 December 2019.

Whilst it’s sad to see the Queen disappear from this route there’s no denying the level of technological (as well as comfort) improvements that’ll be given to passengers flying on the B787. Gone will be the 2-2-2 business class seating arrangement, replaced instead by Qantas superb business suite in a 1-2-1 configuration.

Like anything there’s a downside and it’s Qantas’ new premium economy cabin. The leg room and space feels worse than its economy section yet you’re paying more for the pleasure of feeling squashed. Personally I would rather fly economy over that seat or upgrade to business (yes the design flaw is really that bad).

Mixed feelings of sorts on the new Qantas dreamliner route but at the end of the day, it is an upgrade!

 

 

Lufthansa orders new A350 and B787 aircraft

Lufthansa is ready to upgrade their aging aircraft of A340s, B747s (and surprisingly the not so aging A380) with a fresh order of 40 new aircraft from Airbus between 2022 and 2027. That’s right, the aging rockstar of the European skies is getting a makeover to a more youthful image thanks to a fresh batch of planes.

So how does the order stack up?

  • Lufthansa will add an addition 20 A350s to its already ordered 25 A350 order; in total 45 aircraft
  • Lufthansa will add an additional 20 Boeing 787-9s to its fleet
  • Lufthansa will remove six of their 14 Airbus A380s in 2022 and 2023, instead replacing them with their newly ordered A350s

The reasoning behind such a sweeping change is that the Lufthansa Group have identified a need to invest in more fuel efficient aircraft going forward as part of their commitment to sustainability. It is a pity that the A380 has come under this as their version of the aircraft in my opinion is one of the best in the skies. Thankfully not all of their A380 aircraft are being sold on (in fact it less than half of their total A380 fleet).

In addition having visited the Boeing factory last year I am surprised about the B747 announcement considering that Boeing has further orders for the aircraft from Lufthansa at the time (October 2018).

I’ll be curious to see how the fleet evolves for Lufthansa but will hold my breath on this one as the airline has had some mixed results in the past when it comes to new fleet rollouts.

ETIHAD TAKE OFF A380 FLIGHT FROM SYDNEY SKIES

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Etihad Airways really is starting to become a shadow of its former, glamorous self. The airline when it took to the skies was full of promise and was in fact ground breaking at one point. Lately Etihad announcements are something I dread as they have been the last two years about news of removing or cancelling product and/or aircraft. Today’s disappointing announcement from Etihad is the removal of one of their popular A380 services to Sydney, which will be replaced by a Boeing 777-300ER on an ongoing basis from July 2019.

Previously Etihad announced that flight EY451 and the EY450 return leg would revert from the current short-term Boeing 777 and back to to its flagship Airbus A380 in May.. Ssdly Etihad has had a rethink of this and decided to keep the change permanently.

The downgrade in aircraft means those set to fly the A380 will need to review their booking, especially those in business as the B777 possesses the last generation business class seat as well as lacks the pizzazz of a onboard bar area. Those in first will also be affected with the 777s first suites no match for the spaciousness of the A380s. Moreover those seeking a shower best wait til they land because the inflight shower is not on the B777 aircraft.

Coincidentally the announcement and date of it removal aligns with Etihad’s launch of the A380 between Abu Dhabi and Seoul.

Personally if you are flying a premium class I would make the switch. B777s are a horrid aircraft; noisy, lacking space and generally disappointing.

Will you be switching aircraft if your booking has landed on the new B777 aircraft? Kene to hear your thoughts.

VIRGIN OFFERS FIRST DOUBLE STATUS PROMOTION FOR 2019

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Fancy a double status promotion?! I certainly do and it looks like the first of the big Australian airlines has taken fire in the first round of DSC promos for 2019. Today Virgin cheekily released a teaser on their social page with the statement “In two days, we’re going to help you soar twice as fast. Watch this space (and your inbox!)”.

Whilst the offer is not yet active, what is known about the upcoming double status promotion is that if you register and book between 1 February to 12 February 2019, you will receive double Velocity status credits when you travel on any Virgin Australia marketed and operated flight before 28 December 2019

These promotions are a great way for those who are always falling shy of the next tier to get over the line. It’s anticipated that Qantas will soon be releasing the first of their double status credit promotions in February/ March but it looks like Virgin has beaten them to the punch. Well played Virgin, well played!

Comments

Will you be taking advantage of the Velocity DSC promotion? Keen to hear your thoughts.

EMIRATES A380 BUSINESS CLASS CHRISTCHURCH – SYDNEY: REVIEW

Flight: EK413, CHC-SYD

Loyalty Scheme:  Emirates Skywards

Frequency: Once daily

Duration: 3 hours and 20 minutes

 

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I’m a creature of habit. If I like something strongly enough I will naturally be inclined to return for more. In this case it’s Emirates and their SYD-CHC route. As a fifth freedom route, for many including myself it is the number one option when it comes to flying to New Zealand’s south island from Sydney. Emirates previously also serviced flights to Auckland from Sydney and Melbourne but they were culled by the airline a couple of years ago in favour of their partner Qantas. Sadly the experience and joy of flying with Qantas on the same route is the same. Again thank goodness for Emirates flying to the south island (for now). Nine months on I was keen to seeing if lightning struck twice in terms of a good business class experience on the same route – then again are all business class flights equal? I flew Emirates CHC-SYD on the biz to find out.

The Seat

On this flight I was seated in 9K, a window seat. All business classes have direct aisle access on this 1-2-1 configuration. The seat offer a 48 inch pitch and 18.5 inch width. Upon sitting down I can’t help but notice that signature Emirates use of buried wood trim around the seat. Whilst a tad OTT, it’s nonetheless distinctive and adds a touch of class. Surrounding the seat there’s a console housing an entertainment tablet and mini-bar. Underneath the console are the seat controls which include the all important ‘lie flat’ configuration button. With no overhead storage areas on the window seats side, there’s handy storage bins against the seat.

Awaiting on my seat is an array of amenities including a pillow, blanket and noise-cancelling headphones.

Entertain me

 

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Every seat has a touch-screen Wireless Integrated Passenger Seat Controller which not only handles seat position but also the in-flight entertainment on a 17-inch screen. With more than 1100 channels of entertainment, I was spoiled for choice but settled in over my meal to catch up on the movie Venom.

One winning advantage the A380 has over it’s B777 counterpart is it’s knockout onboard.  Serving a range of drinks and canapés, the space is a great way to mingle with new found friends or for those wanting to catch up live sports and entertainment, there’s a large flat screen TV for their viewing pleasure.

Complimentary Wi-Fi is also provided but it’s for a very small amount of data. If you wish to get download heavy on your flight, you’ll need to take out one of the priced options.

The Bread and Butter (food and drink)

 

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Prior to departure I was offered by the flight attendant a choice of juice, water or champagne. On today’s flight was Moet & Chandon Brut NV, which was naturally my go to option. I continued to enjoy another glass of the Moet after take off before my order for dinner was taken. The service was surprisingly slow for a half full flight.

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On this flight for main I had three choices; roasted salmon, coconut braised beef ribs or the chicken fillet. I went with the beef and the beef was cooked to my liking. It packed a punch in terms of flavour thanks to the star anise and ginger. Accompanying my main was an appetiser of poached prawns. To finish I enjoy a deliciously velvet espresso mascarpone creme, which went down a treat.

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Drink wise, the choice was strong but sadly the service was lacking when it came to matching my drinks to my meal. I requested the Bordeaux red but it never came. When it came to my dessert I managed to get the attention of a flight attendant and asked for the 1994 Graham’s Single Harvest Tawny Port. The port had a lovely texture with subtle dried fig and toffee notes.

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I wanted to retire to the onboard bar for a drink following my meal but found it was closing up earlier than I anticipated in preparation for landing.

Verdict

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Emirates business class on the A380 really is the way to fly between Australia and New Zealand. When on sale, it’s often quite the bargain in comparison to a 1 hour Qantas business flight between Sydney and Melbourne. Despite the service not being as attentive as my previous business class flight on the same route, the food and drink was on par and of good quality. I would have liked to have again experienced the onboard bar but the early close was a bit of a disappointment an hour out from landing in Sydney.

Overall an enjoyable flight that I’d happily do again if given the opportunity.

Service: 4 Stars

Seating: 5 stars

Food: 5 Stars

 

Comments

Have you experienced flying Business with Emirates from NZ? Did you love or dislike the flight? Hit up the comments section as I’m keen to hear your thoughts

 

Boston gets an Emirates A380 upgrade

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Emirates is a strange and odd beast of an airline. One minute it’s making cuts on what seems like lucrative route and the next moment upgrading and buffering capacity on routes deemed as not so profitable. Go figure! After only yesterday deciding to slash the BKK-SYD route from 1 June this year, Emirates has quietly decided to increase capacity on its DXB-BOS route with the airline switching the service from the current B777 to an A380.

This is somewhat rather good news for those flying this route as it represents across all classes a better flying experience. Oddly enough the service commences the same day as the BKK-SYD route becomes redundant. That said it’s only been upgraded so far from 1 June to 30 September but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s extended beyond this time period.

As mentioned prior everyone is a winner here. First class will be rewarded with a shower suite whilst business class passengers will all be given a fully lie flat direct aisle access seat. Moreover all premium passengers will also get to enjoy the social ambience over a drink in the onboard bar, which is sadly lacking on Emirates other aircraft. Finally economy passengers will fly a little more comfortably thanks to the wider seats on the A380.

Considering that Emirates used to have two daily services between DXB-BOS before it cut one back in 2017, the A380 upgrade is for now at least a happy medium.

Will you be enticed to fly Emirates on this route during this period now that the service has been upgraded? Keen to hear your thoughts.