For all those who have been wondering how the business class segment of India’s national carrier compares to that of the other airlines, this review will provide a good insight on whether you should choose Air India business class or not.
One big USP of Air India’s business class is it’s price. It is one of the cheapest I have seen in that segment. However, just like any airline’s pricing mechanism, the cheapest business class seats get sold out early and then travellers are left with a higher priced option. Having said that, if one can manage to get it in time then it does make for a good flight on a budget.
I checked in for Air India’s non-stop 8 hour flight from New Delhi to Copenhagen. The reason for my choice of flight was my last stop was Copenhagen and it’s the only airline from India which provides a direct connection to that place. So in short, the shortest flight time! The boarding from New Delhi International Airport Terminal 3 was smooth since business class passengers have priority check-in. Also, this airport offers the benefit for faster and dedicated immigration and security check for business class passengers of all airlines. Immigration and security check took around 30 minutes to complete. Thereafter, I headed for the Air India lounge located on the 1st floor of the departure terminal. The seating area is quite impressive but the food and beverage selection was pathetic. There were a few cold options like Danish pastry and cakes and to my utter disgust I found an insect on one of them. The hot options were extremely limited and so were the beverage options with just a few variety of drinks.
The leg space was good with a nice place to stack the shoes and blankets along with the compression socks were also stored there.
A big turn-off on boarding the flight is a lack of an amenity kit. On asking for one, the staff replied that the lavatories are adequately stocked with toiletries and we are free to use them. Honestly, I was completely baffled to imagine how much is the airlines saving by not providing amenity kit in business class! Some of my colleagues mentioned that on the return leg from Europe they were lucky to get an amenity kit. Total inconsistency in the same class on the same route!
We were greeted with fresh juices and a hot towel prior to take-off. The in-flight entertainment system is a big disappointment because on that particular flight 14 out of 18 screens were not functioning. Even if it did, the options for movies is extremely limited to about 20 in total. Pathetic! A plethora of reading options in the form of business magazines and newspaper daily were offered on the flight.
One of the most hilarious incidents was reading an article titled ‘Who crippled Air India’ on an Air India flight. Absolute gold dust and hilariously ironic !
After take-off drinks were served along with some light snacks like bhujiya, chiwda and salted almonds. To my utter surprise the option available in drinks was probably one of the best I have ever seen on a flight. Air India understands very well that Indian travellers are whiskey lovers and their inclination towards wine is less and hence their bar is well stocked with a wide range of whiskey, rum, vodka, gin, beer and wine. From Old Monk to Glenlivet everything was available. I was served a Glenfiddich 18yo and was left delighted by their collection. Needless to say I helped myself to quite a few refills of that.
The options on food were again extremely limited with just a single options in appetiser and dessert but the quality of food was good. I opted for the continental course and the taste was as expected in an airline from the subcontinent.
Prior to landing a pre-landing meal is also served which consists of mainly of a sandwich and some fresh fruits. It was also good to taste.
In between flight service on call was satisfactory with cabin stuff turning up with on the first call. Requests for more liquor or champagne and other beverages were promptly entertained.
On reaching Copenhagen, the deplaning was fairly smooth with business class passengers getting priority and were the first ones to deplane. The crew was courteous enough to wish passengers a good bye.
All-in-all if you want to avoid the physically taxing journey of economy class travel on long haul flights, Air India business class is a good choice in terms of amount of money spent. But as mentioned in the blog, some aspects of the flight are indeed very pathetic. But personally I feel that as long as they serve the single malts in abundance, I guess there won’t be much complaints!