Last December my partner and I decided to try out the new Air India 787 Business class from Singapore to London via Delhi – here is the review.
Why Fly with Air India at All?
I’ve had quite a few people ask me this both before the flight and since – so let me explain. Routes from Singapore to Europe during the Christmas period are notoriously expensive even for Economy prices. Unless you fly during mid-week you’ll going to end up spending more than you might like. This Air India business class flight was actually cheaper than Singapore Airlines, BA and a host of other airlines when we booked.
Air India are also part of Star Alliance now so we were both able to collect a decent amount of Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Miles too 8,400 to be exact, including Elite Miles.
Although I’ve been on a couple of 787 flights previously I wanted to try out what Air India had done with their fleet. Then finally I always like to try out new airlines and having never flown with Air India before it was an interesting experience!
There were some drawbacks in the choice though so read on to see…..
Air India 787 Business Class Seats
Air India has opted for a 2-2-2 layout, which when travelling as a couple means you do have a few more options as couples. Obviously though the seats are not as generously spaced as a Singapore Airlines 77W or A380 but spacious nonetheless.
If you are travelling alone I’d recommend having one of the aisle seats in the middle section to avoid either being stepped over or having to step over the passenger next to you (if at the window).
We had chosen our seats prior to our flight, but for some reason our selection was changed and when we found out when checking in at Changi our DEL-LHR seats were on opposite sides of the plane. Apparently it could be changed at Changi or Delhi, but one of the nice passengers agreed to move.
The seat was comfortable and did go flat and the pillows and blankets provided were adequate. Slippers were provided on both legs whilst pyjamas were provided on one of the legs between Delhi and London (they were not provided on the return). I did have a good sleep on all the legs I tried to get some rest.
We found the reading light quite annoying as it was always in the way when we went to speak to one-another. The seat does come with a space to store small bags in front below the entertainment, as well as a coat hook and space for headphones etc.
(note some of the pictures are from the return leg).
My Passport Story!
I stored my valuables in the small area just next to me where the In-Flight entertainment remote is stored, which as I was to find out was a mistake. On arrival into London I couldn’t find my Passport, I knew exactly where I had put it and realised that it must have dropped down behind the seat when reclining. To Air India’s credit they called ahead to their engineers in London and within a few minutes of arriving my Passport was thankfully retrieved. On the return leg I found out that this was a common problem as another passenger had done exactly the same thing with their passport so beware.
In-Flight Entertainment on the 787
The in-flight entertainment was a little disappointing for my liking. Whilst the screen was adequate the remote looks distinctly cheap, and where it’s placed means it does on occasion get stuck in the seat mechanism.
There was only a very small selection of western film and TV as the main audience will be Indian, if you are happy with Bollywood then you’ll have no issues. Otherwise I would bring some extra entertainment to supplement what’s available.
One of the only reasons that I took this particular route was that I knew it would be 787 all the way. Although Air India still operate 777s on the route they can be avoided. As with other 787’s the windows are electronic and the crew disabled the shades for takeoff/landing after that you have full control. You can get some interesting pictures though:
Food and Drinks
Food and Drink isn’t really Air India’s strong point. There was a limited choice of non-indian food, but I do like Indian food anyway – others may be put off but the selection. We had actually selected our meals but this was ignored completely by the crew.
They initially started out with a pre-flight apple/orange juice and then some snacks. These snacks were available throughout from the galley area, a repeatedly served during the flights.
Soon after the meal service started with lunch. I opted for the Murg Methi Malai for my main, after which the starter arrived – Hors d’oeuvre, in this case prawns, peppers and something I didn’t recognise! This was served with a pretty unappealing bread roll. Generally this was a theme throughout that the presentation is lacking. The staff sometimes appeared a little apprehensive when delivering the food and drinks too.
My main course then followed which actually tasted pretty good but as you can see from the picture below it isn’t very appealing from a presentation perspective. I was surprised that many of the meals were served still in their foil trays.
I skipped dessert course as there wasn’t anything that I really wanted from the choices so went straight to the cheese course. This was served in a familiar way to Singapore Airlines with the crew coming down the aisles offering a selection of cheese from the cart. The difference being that Air India then again missed a trick on the presentation, as they gave out the cheese in some cases still wrapped.
The cheese course also came with a few “Taj chocolates” which was a nice touch and again they had these available throughout the flight in the galley areas. Apparently a little bit of in-flight sponsorship going on from the Taj hotel group there.
I have to say that neither of us had much of this to eat as we knew we’d be in the lounge in a little while for food there.
The In-Flight Service
There was a mixed crew, with some quite that had been with the airline for a while. We had 3-4 staff for the business class section. My partner and I both agreed that whilst the service wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t polished. It just didn’t feel slick and not up to the standards of other airlines.
The service was better than what I’ve experienced in Premium Economy, but not up to business class standards especially when compared to Singapore Airlines or Cathay Pacific.
Transit in Delhi
As this flight included a stop in Delhi I thought it would be worth giving you some information on what you can expect. Firstly Delhi Airport is very nice, it’s been recently renovated for the Commonwealth Games and is up to modern standards. There is everything that you’d expect and its easy to navigate.
Eaton Transit Hotel
One of the really handy things about Delhi Airport is that it has a airside hotel so you don’t need to go through immigration during a layover. Although we didn’t use the hotel on the way to London we did on the return to Singapore (a 12 hour layover)
The hotel is also a branded Langham hotel – Eaton so I was able to pickup a few KrisFlyer miles even for a day-stay. Here are a couple of pictures – excuse the slightly blurry one as I was pretty tired by this point!
The hotel does have other services like Spa treatment which were served from a mix of male and female staff – which some may not be comfortable with.
The hotel does hourly rates as well as full nights, my only complaint would be that it took a while to get a response regarding a reservation enquiry.
The Lounges in Delhi
There’s a decent choice of lounges for those that have either the ANZ Travel Visa Signature Card, or Priority Pass access. In addition to that if you are flying in business class on Air India or have Star Alliance Gold you have access to the SilverKris Lounge, the Lufthansa lounge as well as the main Air India Lounge.
I’ll be covering those lounges in a post in a couple of days.
Conclusion – is the Air India 787 Business Class Product Good or Bad?
I was actually reasonably impressed with the hard product as I got a good rest and the seat was comfortable enough for me. They could do with adding a space for keeping your valuables safe, and they could also do with improving the selection of entertainment on the In-Flight Entertainment from my perspective.
The service was fine, but the presentation of the food and drink was lacking. In addition to that the meals weren’t great either, another area that can be improved.
What I can’t fault is the price, we got these flights at a peak time of the year for under $S2400 which for that length is great value. Would I do it again? I probably would if I was on my own, but otherwise I’ll give it a miss.