Ever since i flew Jet Airways Business Class (domestic), I have been waiting so long for an International trip to experience the international business class products, as that’s where we can get a real value for the money (or just miles). I was actually hoping to try Jet Airways wide body business class but Air India 787-Dreamliner was the only choice i had that fit in our rates & timings.
Here’s my experience with Air India International business Class on Boeing 787 Dreamliner, from Chennai (MAA) to Singapore (SIN) which I flew during my trip to Singapore & Malaysia.
- Cost: Economy ticket (7,000 INR) + 33,000 Air India Miles for upgrade
I initially booked the seat in economy class (revenue ticket) with HDFC diners credit card reward points and later upgraded to business class using 33k air India miles that i accrued using SBI Air India Signature Card last year.
It took about ~10 mins on call with customer care for the upgrade. Not bad, as jet airways wants me to send an email to upgrade. Considering the cost of a revenue Business class ticket, I was able to get ~0.50 INR/mile which is a decent value.
- Flight: Air India AI 346
- Route: MAA – SIN
- Seat: 3J (Business Class)
- Depart 11:35Pm Arrive 18:30Pm
- Revenue Ticket: ~24,000 INR
- I Paid: 0 INR (CC Points + Air India Miles)
Air India Business Class – Ground Experience
1. Dedicated Check in
As there wasn’t any queue in the regular counter and as I was with my friend (who flies economy), I went with the economy counter. But once the guy came to know that I got business class seat, he wants me to check-in at the business class counter.
Within minutes got the boarding pass in hand along with the Maharaja lounge invitation which is the business class lounge of Air India. So I headed straight towards the lounge and FYI, there was no fast track business class security line like in Mumbai.
2. Air India Lounge
The lounge had comfortable seating area but the food spread was pathetic. Here’s the detailed review of the so called Maharaja lounge: Air India Business Class Lounge
So the lounge experience kind of got screwed up by the annoying staff and I actually spent most of the time at other lounge: TFS Travel Club Lounge
3. Boarding Gate
Boarding started by the time we reached the gate, about ~15 mins late due to bad weather, and we thought of taking some pics of the plane until rest of passengers gets inside. Everyone got in but my friend was still away from me busy snapping the airport left and right.
While I was trying to call him, one of the gate attendant calmly said that there was a long queue down and that I can take my own time. My Business Class boarding pass is already gaining attention by the two attendants and they were tracking my moves every other second, like we stare at a beautiful girl.
Air India Business Class – In Flight experience
I boarded through the front door, and took a left which opens up to the business class cabin with 16 seats in 2-2-2 configuration. I was surprised (and not happy) to see the cabin full and the welcome drink is being served to other passengers. I should have got in early!
1. The Cabin
Most of the business class passengers were Singaporeans and I can see one Indian in a long shot. I finally got settled in my seat which was 3J.
First thing i love about 787 dreamliner is their electric window dimming feature which helps you control the sunlight entering the cabin. It was very useful to me as i wear power glasses and can’t keep changing to coolers just incase if i wanna look out.
2. The Seat
The seat is fully convertible to flat bed which you can do it all by yourself using the seat controls present on the armrest between seats. I was quite busy with these controls all through the flight 😀
There were some storage space below the ottoman/leg rest and also to the sides of the screens in front. There was a wired remote to operate the personal television and the sad part is my remote was bit faulty that i wasn’t able to see the live location tracking screen. The flight attendant agreed that its a glitch but didn’t return back with any solution.
The seat has 2 pillows (1 small/soft + 1 big/firm) and overall i felt very much comfortable all through the flight with this setup.
3. Welcome drink
Just as soon as i got settled in my seat, I was given a choice of coconut water / orange juice as welcome drink. I went with coconut water, which was OKAY.
4. Cold Towel
Few minutes later comes the cold towel which was served like a spring roll, as always.
The flight was already approaching the runway and it was one of the smoothest takeoff I’ve every seen. Looks like the heavy engines on Dreamliner does the work pretty well.
5. The Champagne
While I was expecting a menu to come, the crew started serving drinks. While i was looking at 10+ different bottles in the beverage cart, I was asked “What do you want, sir?”. As a teetotaler, I’ve no idea what to say and so I went with “A champagne for a beginner please”. She smiled and suggested some name and I went with it.
The champagne arrived, but hey! in wine glass, was followed by salted almonds and nuts. These almonds were so crispy that i got them more than twice. It was even more crispier than what i had at Taj Coimbatore. Looking at my interest in almonds, even the fellow traveller offered his pack to me 😀
It was my first champagne and I was happy to have it in the sky. I liked the taste of the sparkling wine on tongue – It was mild and good as i expected it to be. Though I couldn’t take more than couple of sips as I believe I need to develop a taste for it (alcohol in general).
So i went for grape juice later while I see the guy in middle row refill his wine glass couple of times. It was really nice when flight attendant came back to check if I liked the Champagne, except that i wish she was her age minus 20 😛
I was given 2 options in Non-Veg (continental/Indian) and I went with Indian. The guy nearby went with Continental and the only difference is he got white rice, while I got sambhar rice. His plate would have looked much more attractive on picture, mine was good in taste anyways.
The food tray had some breads & parata (Didn’t touch), cut fruits, sweets and a big cup with poriyal, sambhar rice & fried chicken. Totally enjoyed the meal, especially the payasam was so damn tasty. It was a fulfilling meal and certainly lived up to my expectations.
All the above service was done on time and there were proper follow up and plate clearance.
7. IFE & Sleep Quality
The entertainment system was loaded up with good set of movies though i wasn’t interested in using their low end headphones nor in a mood to watch any movies/series.
I decided to take a short nap and so went ahead and converted the seat to a flat bed. While i thought i had a wonderful 10 mins nap, i then realised that 1 hour had passed already (Was that the champagne effect?!). That was really a pleasant sleep i’ve ever had at 40,000 feet.
Now the flight started to descend and was circling around one of the island nearby for few mins until they got a clearance for landing in Singapore. Here are some of the views while descending,
Knowing about the Air India’s name and fame(!) in the country, i went with little expectation but then i should say that everything from the seat to the food and the service is all up to the mark. Overall, its safe to say that Air India International Business Class certainly exceeded my expectations, atleast in the Air.
- Cardexpert Rating: 4/5
This business class flight was made possible with the help of airmiles that i accrued with SBI AirIndia Signature Credit Card (review here). While i’m happy with the redemption, i think i could have got more value if redeemed on other Star Alliance Airlines. Do you have any suggestions for my future redemptions? do let me know!
Have you been on Air India Business Class or planning for one? Feel free to share your thoughts in comments below.