Hello from Balmy London, folks. Shipra and I landed up here yesterday evening after putting a whole nighter of coffee to stay awake for our 6:30 a.m. flight. We were put up at the JW Marriott Sahar, and then headed to the airport. With no ground experience to talk about, the airline checked us in and sent us on our way to the GVK Lounge East Wing, which is the lounge of choice for Air India apart from Jet Airways.
We found our way from the lounge to the gate a shade after 5:30 a.m. for a 6:30 a.m. departure. The plane had come in from Ahmedabad and was being cleaned up for the flight ahead.
There were long serpentine queues and we were told we could wait for a bit and would be brought to the front when the plane starts to board. We boarded a roughly 4-year old plane and were flying Business Class, which is the top cabin on Air India’s 787-8 planes.
I had come in with absolutely negligible expectations on this flight, given all the chatter we hear about Air India going wrong these days. I’d first been inside these planes back in 2012 for a preview, and ever since then a flight on the AI 787-8 was on my list for a while, given this is a functionally good business class. The time had finally come.
I was impressed with all the space we had on this flight. The seats were comfortable for a large person such as me, and giving away 3 windows on a plane is good for first class, and we had it in business class here.
The cabin looked spacious, and with only 5 seats occupied on this 18-seat J cabin today, we were assured of good service today with the cabin crew leader, who was an old hand at Air India and broke the ice with sharing a joke with us.
A magazine cart rolled out to offer us reading material. Amenity kits were provided, although, I don’t agree with Air India on calling these Amenity Kits. These were just bad quality compression socks and eye shades.
We pushed back on time, and were on our way for a 9:30 hours flight to London. Immediately after take off, we were offered breakfast. Menus were already provided before take off. While Air India has officially renamed the cabin Business Class, they still print Executive Class on the menu. Beats me why their ground staff at corporate is so incompetent.
I went with the Masala Omelette option on this flight. Shipra went with the Vegetarian option, which was a Paneer Parantha. The whole meal came on a tray and was good, but Shipra’s was not so great.
We were both on zero sleep for more than 30 hours at this point and immediately went to sleep. The bed was comfortable and a duvet was provided.
However, red herrings exist when its Air India. When Shipra reclined her seat, we had a panel falling off. Similar stuff for a passenger seated in the row behind us. So, she went to sleep in another seat.
I woke up roughly after 5 hours of sleep, and we were roughly two-thirds of the way to London. Thirty minutes later, meal service started. Another meal, and I went with the vegetarian option this time, which brought some Paneer on my table. It was coupled with some H Blin Brut champagne, which was not bad at all.
The crew rolled out a Dessert Cart, and I chose the Chocolate Gateau Cake, while Shipra went with the Rasmalai for dessert. We decided to share a plate of cheese and crackers as well.
Soon enough, we were at London. I was surprised that there was no padding in the schedule and this flight worked on the exact timings it showed on the schedule. We arrived at Terminal 2, and had some great views on our way in.
On landing in London, we got fast-track immigration cards as we exited the plane.
Overall, I was very very impressed with the crew and the service on the plane. I am a firm believer that hospitality is more than just a product. Air India’s 787-8 product is the stock Boeing seat which was also picked up by other carriers such as Kenya Airways. It may not work for very tall people, but worked just fine for me. But it was made nice by the attention to detail on this flight from the Air India crew, which was a mix of old and new crew. They were attentive, but not pushy and checking in every few minutes.
While I’m not sure if this is the standard Air India service, given their 777s have a lot of broken seats and angle-flat business class, which gives the crew a handicap at work, but at least I am open to trying out more routes on Air India’s 787s now, given my good experience.
Have you flown Air India’s 787 Business Class? What has been your experience. Share with us…