After flying from Paro to Delhi on Bhutan Airlines, I had to get to Dubai for my flight home on United Airlines. That left two options: Air India or Emirates. As Air India was pricing much cheaper than Emirates, I gave it a try…my first time on the Indian flag carrier. How good…or bad…would my Air India 787 business class flight be?
Air India 787 Business Class: My First Time On The Indian Flag Carrier
The one-way business class ticket was $768, which was about $500 cheaper than Emirates (and the Emirates flight would have been on an older 777 with angled seats in business class). I’ve read (and reported on) a lot of bad things about Air India over the years, but went into the flight with an open mind and quite frankly, found the overall experience satisfactory. My flight was operated by a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.
While just an off-the-shelf business class seat, I quite like it because your feet are not at all constrained. In any case, this was more than sufficient for a three-hour journey from DEL to DXB. The aircraft cabin appeared clean and well-maintained.
The service was excellent onboard: the ladies working in business class were extremely kind, attentive, personable, and charming. When dinner orders were taken, I was addressed by surname and that continued for the rest of the flight.
I was also impressed with the newspapers offered before the flight (very few airlines still offer actual newspapers onboard) and the full-size bottles of alcohol nicely presented on a cart during the meal service (the Champagne on offer was the same as my previous flight, a Laurent Perrier).
While I was also impressed that there were four meals to choose from, all four were “Indian” in terms of the spices and sauces. I would have appreciated a piece of fish or chicken without a heavy curry flavor…just a personal preference.
I tried the chicken Chettinad Kathi roll (a very pungent gravy), served with tandoori aloo. A spinach quiche with (another very fragrantly spiced) tomato relish was served on the side. The presentation was not very premium. The “aloo anger ki chaat” appetizer (potatoes with sweet and sour spicy chutneys) was soggy: my understanding is that the potatoes are supposed to be crispy.
Furthermore, the IFE selection onboard was very poor. If you are flying Air India on a longhaul flight, you will certainly want to bring your own entertainment to help pass the time.
I honestly enjoyed my first flight on Air India and it was not simply for the sake of amusement: the product was solid, with the service especially exceeding expectations. The Tata Group is now in the process of transforming Air India and I am quite excited to see what will come of it: I think Air India has the potential to be a great carrier that competes with its regional rivals.