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Business class, Indian style

Reading Time: 4 minutes

PAWAN LUTHRA reviews the experience of flying on board Air India’s new luxury Dreamliner   

THE ROUTE
Sydney to New Delhi
FREQUENCY
In 2015, Air India launched a new flight itinerary connecting India and Australia. The Sydney-New Delhi service runs Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, while the Melbourne-New Delhi direct flights operate Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
THE PLANE
One of the most modern in the world, Air India has 16 Boeing 787 Dreamliner 800 series aircraft in their fleet and uses the Dreamliner exclusively on this route.
Air India Review.Indian Link
THE LOYALTY SCHEME
India’s first frequent flyer rewards program is Flying Returns. Passengers can also earn points towards other Star Alliance partner airline programs.
THE SEAT
The plane has 238 economy seats in a 3-3-3 configuration. These feature headrests with adjustable wings, a good recline and plenty of legroom. The seat pitch is 33 inches (84cm).
I am upgraded to an aisle seat in Executive (Business) class, which has 18 seats in a configuration of 2-2-2. The seat pitch is 74 inches (188cm) which means ample legroom. When it’s time to sleep, there’s an extremely comfortable flat bed with mattress and soft quilted blanket.

Air India Review.Indian Link
Business Class

DURATION
Flight time is 13 hours. Our flight departure was delayed by about an hour.
BAGGAGE
All Air India tickets come with 30kg luggage allowance which can be split over two bags. Business Class passengers are allowed 40kgs which allows them to shop away for family and friends. Flyers can bring one piece of carry-on baggage up to eight kilograms and a laptop or handbag.
ENTERTAINMENT
Passengers can use an in-flight entertainment system through the 26.5-centimetre touch-sensitive seatback screen. There are various music, television and movie selections comprising 130 television shows, 60 music CDs and 10 PC games available in Hindi and English. You can choose from over 50 movies including the latest and classic Bollywood and Hollywood titles. The inflight magazine is Shubh Yatra, which features easy-to-read Hollywood and Bollywood star profiles alongside luxury travel spreads.
COMFORT
Socks and an eye mask are provided along with complementary water, pillow and blanket. In Executive Class, passengers are given a soft, comfortable set of pyjamas for sleeping, along with a pair of slippers. Toothbrush and paste are provided on request. The dynamic LED lighting maintains cabin illumination while creating a soothing atmosphere allowing for relaxation.
Air India Review.Indian Link
Business Class

The Dreamliner cabin pressure is set to 6000 feet above sea level, compared with most conventional aircraft with pressure set at 8000 feet above sea level. This is designed to minimise the effects of flying such as headache, eye irritation, dehydration and fatigue. The on-board air filtration system removes odours, irritants, bacteria and viruses, meaning cleaner and healthier air. It was surprisingly comfortable.
In Sydney, Executive Class passengers can make use of the Singapore Airlines lounge facilities including meals and bathroom amenities. When I visited, the lounge was bursting at the seams and well attended by passengers from across the Star Alliance airlines.
FEATURES
The windows on the B-787 Dreamliner are the largest of any commercial airplane flying today, 65 per cent larger than other aircraft in the same category. They’re not mechanical though, instead you can personally tint the windows to your desired level of darkness – from transparent to completely dark – simply by touching the window control. The whole process of adjusting the light intensity only takes about a minute. Talk about window dressing!
If you’re particularly environmentally-conscious about your flying habits, the Dreamliner has 15 per cent lower fuel consumption and 20 per cent lower carbon emissions than other commercial airplanes in the same category.
SERVICE
Check-in is quick and efficient, staff at the counter are professional. In the air, the elegantly attired crew seem to handle the load of a full flight well, especially with numerous demands on them.
Air India also offers, in my opinion, the world’s most personalised ground experience. Making my way off the plane, as an Executive Class passenger, I am met at the jet bridge by a gentleman holding a sign with my name on it who then walks me through all the formalities and escorts me to my car at the terminal in New Delhi.
Air India Review.Indian Link
Economy Class

FOOD
The in-flight menu is available in both English and Hindi. There are several options for dinner: two Indian dishes and an ‘international’ dish.
There is a limited choice of non-Indian food, though as expected the Indian dishes are more popular with travellers than the international ones.
Drinks-wise, there’s a good selection of wines and spirits on board including an 18-year-old Glenfiddich whiskey. While the airline staff was happy to serve the wine, there was limited knowledge of what was being served.
Air India also offers a variety of meals catering to special dietary requirements including Hindu, Kosher, Jain, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free.
 
THE VERDICT
Air India is a solid choice when travelling to the subcontinent, and is the only carrier to fly direct between Australia and India. The flight is a pleasurable experience with passenger comfort paramount. Passengers are also offered one domestic flight in India as part of their Air India ticket.
Executive Class service is great value for money and worth the investment to arrive at your destination feeling relaxed and fresh, ready to enjoy your holiday in India.
 
The author flew courtesy of Air India

Pawan Luthra
Pawan Luthra
Pawan is the publisher of Indian Link and is one of Indian Link's founders. He writes the Editorial section.

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