Features

Aviation Picks

30 Apr 2019 by Business Traveller India
Singapore Airlines

First Class

Singapore Airlines

Aptly named ‘Suites’, the extravagant cabin product of Singapore Airlines exists on the upper deck of the A380 aircraft. Following a major cabin retrofit, the new Suites cabin features six suites on either side of one single aisle. The Suite features two separate areas — a Poltrona Frau-upholstered armchair and a deployable bed. Piece de resistance — some Suites are connected resulting in a double bed format. Enjoy the 32-inch flat screen and a full-sized wardrobe, amenity box and plush linen.

Emirates

The first airline in the skies to offer a shower on board, Dubai-based Emirates’ A380 First Class is one of the most consistent and instantly recognisable with its glamorous wood and gold design. The world’s largest operator of the A380 has its First Class suites on the upper deck of each aircraft. Perks include plush private cabin, personal mini bar, amenity drawer, dine-on-demand meals and, of course, access to the famous Shower Spa packed with signature Bvlgari amenities. Passengers can even enjoy cocktails and mingle with fellow passengers on the A380 Onboard Lounge, attached to Business Class.

Lufthansa

The German carrier is known for its consistent service and technologically-sound cabins. The First Class cabin on its A380 aircraft is noteworthy —
we also love the First Class in the nose of the Boeing 747-8i. Eight generous seats can be converted into 2-metre-long beds, turned down by the crew with plush linen. Lufthansa’s amazing wine selection is worth a mention as well as the awesome interface on the Lufthansa Media World entertainment system.

Other perks at the airline’s Frankfurt hub include a separate First Class terminal, valet parking service and, of course, a limousine transfer on the tarmac to the aircraft.

Etihad Airways

Care for a three-bedroom apartment in the skies? The Abu Dhabi-based carrier made the news when it deployed its uber-extravagant first class product, aptly named The Residence. Each A380 comes with one single Residence, in a three-room format featuring a living room, a bedroom with a double bed and an attached bathroom with shower. There are two dining tables, a 27-inch screen and a Savoy-trained butler to look after you. Other perks include an inflight chef and limousine transfers.

Business Class

Cathay Pacific

The Hong Kong-based carrier’s highly consistent Business Class cabin on its B777-300 ER aircraft is, in our opinion, one of the most functional and business traveller-friendly products in the sky. For starters, the cabin is configured in a reverse herringbone format, for an increased sense of privacy and direct aisle access for every passenger. The seat is elegantly designed and features lots of space to place a laptop, tablets and literature, and a cubby compartment to place your small objects. In addition, the airline’s Hong Kong lounges are top-notch, in addition to excellent on board service.

Singapore Airlines

We were the first ones to try out the new A380 Business Class cabin between Sydney and Singapore. The new cabin sees a major revamp, while retaining its generous 1-2-1 format. We absolutely love the new cabin aesthetic and stylish cocoon-style seats in aubergine Poltrona Frau leather and blue-grey accents throughout. The seat features lots of stowage area, generous workspaces, power points and charging ports. The divider between the two centre seats can be lowered to create a double bed of sorts.

Emirates

Frequent flyers will tell you that they choose an Emirates A380 route just to fly this Business Class cabin. The massive upper deck business cabin is designed in Emirates’ flamboyant style and is staggered in its 1-2-1 configuration. Each seat comes with a personal minibar, a massive screen and a tablet of sorts to control the entertainment and seat settings. The best part of this cabin experience is the Emirates Onboard Lounge at the back of the cabin, where cocktails flow, and you can mingle with fellow passengers at “happy hour”.

Qatar Airways Q Suite

Qatar Airways

The Doha-based carrier excels with its unique QSuites product available on its A350 and B777 aircraft. The cabin is uniquely designed in a 1-2-1 format. There are clusters of four seats in a forward-backward layout, which can be opened up by lowering the dividers, ideal for a family of four or four colleagues who want to have a meal or meeting in the skies. Each seat features a sliding door for increased privacy and perks include the dine-on-demand service, an extensive wine list and a massive screen.

Premium Economy

Vistara

The only Indian airline to offer a premium economy product, Vistara, a Tata-Singapore Airlines partnership, has captured a niche market of travellers who are looking for that extra element of comfort on the airline’s A320 fleet. Offering 20 per cent more legroom than Economy Class, the Vistara Premium Economy seat boasts a 33-inch pitch and a 4.5-degree recline. Perks include priority check-in, boarding and luggage, increased baggage allowance and complementary food. What’s more, Vistara serves freshly brewed Starbucks coffee on board.

Singapore Airlines

One of our favourite international Premium Economy cabins, Singapore Airlines’ premium economy seat is extremely generous with a 38-inch pitch, an 8-inch recline and 19.5-inch seat width. In addition, the seat also features 2 USB ports for charging your devices and handy stowage areas for a water bottle, a phone and a laptop. We also love the large touchscreen and the premium noise-cancelling headphones. SQ extends priority queues for check-in and boarding as well as priority luggage tagging.

All Nippon Airways

We are fans of ANA’s B787 Dreamliner and its direct connectivity between India and Tokyo. The Premium Economy cabin is small and feels private with its generous 2-3-2 configuration. We found the seat to be very comfortable with its 38-inch pitch and a generous recline, when combined with an ergonomic foot rest. What’s more, you even have a USB port and a power point for your laptop. Other perks include lounge access and priority status at check-in and boarding. The food and beverage offering on board ANA is also worth a mention.

Virgin Atlantic

On the spanking new B787-9 aircraft, Virgin Atlantic offers a Premium cabin of 35 seats. The cabin is small and exclusive, with five rows of this class, laid out in a 2-3-2 configuration. The airline ensures that passengers booked into this cabin are fast tracked with priority check-in and bag drop counters as well as priority boarding. As for the seat, it boats a 38-inch pitch and a generous recline, coupled with a headrest and a footrest. Each seat comes with inseat power and a USB port. Other perks include free seat selection, a welcome drink and an amenity kit on night flights.

Economy Class

Turkish Airlines

A great economy product for long-haul, especially on the Istanbul-based carrier’s comfortable Boeing 777-300ERs which fly between India and Turkey. The airline retains a 3-3-3 configuration on its B777 and the seats feature a pitch of 32 inches and a width of 18 inches.

We absolutely love the Economy Class amenity kit, on long-haul flights, which contains slippers, an eye mask, socks, dental kit, lip balm and ear plugs. Food and beverage is a big draw on Turkish Airlines, and their meals come accompanied with great Turkish salads, cheese and bread.

All Nippon Airways

All Nippon Airways (ANA) operates direct flights between Tokyo Narita and India and offers a wonderful Economy Class product. The B787 Dreamliner features a small Economy cabin of 102 seats in a 3-3-3 configuration, making it extra comfortable. The seat boasts a pitch of 34 inches and a width of 17 inches, with a generous, ergonomically designed recline. The seat also has a handy USB charging port, a large touchscreen with a decent entertainment system. Enjoy the gracious Japanese service and a selection of Japanese beer and tea.

Air india

The Indian flag carrier offers a competitive Economy Class product on its workhorse B787 Dreamliner aircraft, which flies between India and Europe and Australia. The cabin is configured in a comfortable 3-3-3 format and has the standard charging ports and entertainment system with a great selection of Indian films. The “new look” Maharajah scores points on its excellent Indian food options as well. Enjoy some great Indian hospitality in addition to brilliant Star Alliance connectivity.

Qatar Airways

The Doha-based carrier’s spanking new fleet offers a commendable Economy Class cabin with excellent in-flight service. Regularly quoted by airline experience experts as the most “premium” Economy Class product in the skies, Qatar Airways seats offer generous legroom, a wide screen and charging ports. Passengers on long-haul flights enjoy an amenity kit with Institut Karité lip balm, dental kit, ear plugs, socks and eye mask. In-flight service on Qatar needs no introduction and, even in Economy, remains highly personalised and attentive. The transit experience at Doha’s Hamad International Airport is an extra perk!

Business Class Lounges

GVK Lounge Mumbai

At Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport’s Terminal 2, airlines do not have individual lounges. All eligible passengers use the First/Business Class lounges run by GVK, shared by all airlines. The First/Business Class lounges have been consistently voted among the best in the world because of their design — Indian elements of decor — and great layout. Amenities include a cocktail bar serving champagne, multiple pod-seats, reading room, a relaxation area, showers, a large buffet (à la carte dining section reserved for First Class) and even a spa. The lounges offer great tarmac views for aviation geeks!

Emirates Business Class Lounge Dubai

Occupying almost an entire level of the departure concourse, Emirates’ Business Class lounge at its Dubai hub is a terminal in itself. Given that this is such an important transit airport, and given the large volumes of Emirates traffic, the lounge is well-equipped and large enough to cater to every kind of passenger. The lounge is divided into multiple dining areas, a barista coffee stand, showers, relaxation area, champagne bars, work-spaces with desks and lots of charging points for laptops and phones. Ultimate benefit: from this lounge — at certain gates — you can access the upper deck of the A380s directly, without having to step into the main terminal.

Cathay Pacific’s “The Deck” lounge at Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to lounges and transit experiences. The latest in its ensemble of stellar lounges at Hong Kong International Airport is The Deck, which is every aviation geek’s dream thanks to its sweeping runway views. This lounge, done in contemporary chic accents pampers the business traveller with its selection of amenities — coffee stations, open buffet, large bar serving premium spirits and multiple pods to catch up on some pre-flight emails. The best part is the Noodle Bar, where you can choose some ready-to-order noodles from different parts of Asia.

Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge Istanbul

At Istanbul Ataturk Airport, the transit experience is an absolute pleasure thanks to Turkish Airlines’ two-level CIP lounge. For starters, the food and beverage experience at this lounge is unparalleled — Turkish street food favourites are available in live counters dotting the lounge and there are vendor-style carts that circulate through the lounge. There’s even a counter for Turkish coffee. In addition, you can relax in one of the relaxation rooms, get an express massage, play a game of billiards or even settle in the reading room. It’s easy to spend a couple of hours here in absolute bliss!

Indian Domestic airlines

Air India

India’s flag carrier and a Star Alliance member – Air India holds the fort for domestic airlines in the country. Serving over 90 destinations, both, in India as well as abroad, this government-owned airline has a long-standing repute primarily on the back of its well-planned routes and flight schedule. From its three-class configuration of the Boeing 747-400 and two-class configuration of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to the economy configuration of the Airbus 319 – Air India has it all. In fact, it is the third largest airline in the country in terms of the passengers carried in India. And not to forget, it is the only domestic carrier allowing 25 kg of baggage allowance within India.India’s Flying Returns is the first frequent flyer programme in India, which offers points for travelling by Air India and their 27-Star Alliance partners, including several other benefits.

Vistara

In a short span of four years, Vistara, India’s full-service domestic airline was awarded the ‘Most Passenger Friendly Airline’ by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Airports Authority of India and FICCI, last year. Of course, there are several reasons: It is the only domestic carrier to offer mid-tier premium economy, along with business-and economy-class; comfortable seats providing ample sitting room, excellent in-flight meals and attentive customer service, ‘Vistara World’ wireless streaming in-flight entertainment system across their entire network, and the only airline serving Starbucks coffee on-board.

A joint venture between Tata and Singapore Airlines, currently, Vistara flies to 23 destinations in India, and is awaiting the approval to start its international operations.

IndiGo

Budget carrier IndiGo is India’s most preferred and largest airline by passengers carried. An excellent value for money, this low-cost airline scores brownie points with its on-time performance, connectivity of flights and customer service. The airline has a total of 209 aircraft (as of February 2019) including 68 new generation A320neo, 126 A320ceo, 14 ATRs and 1 A321neo. It currently operates over 1300 daily flights connecting 52 domestic destinations and 16 international destinations. The airline has recently signed its first codeshare agreement with Turkish Airlines, allowing either of the airlines to book seats for its passengers on each other’s flight.

JET AIRWAYS

Despite being in the news for a while, this full-service airline has been one of the preferred airlines because of its great connectivity within India.  Currently, Jet Airways flies to 37 destinations in India, offering high-end onboard experience with its comfortable Premiere and Economy Class seatings, fantastic food and customer service, among others. While the brand is not in an alliance like Star Alliance, One world or Skyteam, they do have mile earning and redeeming partnerships with several other airlines. Note: Airline info is in accordance with data collected until March 2019) 

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