The primary reason for my trip to Tunisia was to fly Tunisair from Tunis to Montreal onboard the flag carrier’s flagship A330 aircraft. Was I in for a pleasant surprise or a great disappointment? Sadly, I walked away disappointed even with guarded expectations.
TunisAir A330 Business Class – First Impressions
After travel vlogger Josh Cahill drew national headlines and was even ordered to delete his pictures and video by immigration officials after a very negative review of Tunisair, I hoped that the airline would have used that feedback to make improvements to the onboard product.
While Chaill only flew shorthahul, I booked a paid business class ticket ($955) from Tunis to Montreal so that I could get the full experience. One Mile At A Time reviewed the same plane on the same route five years ago and I was curious to see if anything had changed for the better…or for the worse.
While I’m not ready to call the airline a national disgrace, I walked away disappointed. It all started so promising. I checked with a huge smile on my face and the agent, sensing my excitement, agreed to be photographed for my report. She hardly spoke English, but was lovely.
Then a colleague proceeded to lecture her for letting me take a picture…
The lounge was fine. Unlike Cahill’s experience, I thought the lounge was pleasant enough and I certainly did not find cigarette butts and trash on the floor.
Boarding was chaotic, but I managed to board first and noted the cabin has not changed. It’s a shame really, as these are relatively new A330-200s, but Tunisair chose to install outdated business class seats that are not even angled lie-flat. It felt like stepping back in time 10 years.
As I was taking pictures of the cabin, the purser waved at me to stop…something we often see on smaller flag carriers where flight attendants really cannot understand why anyone would take cabin pictures, except for nefarious purposes.
Not only was the seat dated, but it has not aged well, with the green faux leather very worn and cracking in many places. The cabin was also not clean, with grime and dust present.
During the flight, a panel fell off the seat in front of me:
Here’s where the flight got strange…for me at least. None of the flights attendants spoke English (or at least let on that they could speak English).
All announcements were only in French and Arabic, including the safety video. I realize those are the two languages of Tunisia and Montreal is primarily French speaking, but I was surprised that the flight attendants did not speak a world of English the entire flight.
We ran into a ground delay of over an hour (the pilots never filled us in on what happened, but after pushing back on time we returned to the gate, the jet bridge was re-attached, and the door opened) and I got up to ask if I could use the “bathroom.”
Two flight attendants looked at me like I was an alien. One said something to his colleague in Arabic and the other shrugged. I finally said toilettes and they suddenly looked like they just had an epiphany and opened the (locked) lavatory door for me.
You can imagine my interactions with the crew were limited considering they refused to speak English and I don’t speak French or Arabic.
The front lavatory was blocked for use by the crew and the restroom behind the business class cabin remained locked. When I got up to use the lavatory midway through the flight, the flight attendant unlocked it for me. The sink was clogged…
Comparing my experience to Ben’s, there was no menu, no amenity kit, no canapes, no soup, and no menu choice at all. I was handed fish for my first main meal and chicken for my second. It was just plopped down. There was no alcohol onboard either…
That said, I did like the dishes and the food was edible (not great, but certainly not bad). I would rank the dessert the highlight of the meal.
Despite poor-quality bedding and a seat that did not go flat, I managed to sleep for several hours since I had been up the previous night.
Not only did we encounter a departure delay, but we encountered strong headwinds, meaning an arrival into Montreal almost two hours late…it made my transborder connection quite precarious.
To add insult to injury, the door was stuck and it took several minutes and several flight attendants for it to be opened.
The experience on Tunisair was sadly worse than I expected. The good news is the carrier has a lot of potential. But the bad news is the airline doesn’t even get the little things right.