Air India Business — really quite goodBack to Forum
Anonymous4 Dec 2011
@BeckyBoop asked me to post about a recent business trip on AI. It was pretty good. The UK routes (to DEL and BOM) have the new, fully flat seats on 777-300ERs or 777-200LRs (other 777s and the 747s have an angled lie-flat). The seats are configured 2-3-2 so there is the centre seat problem but, that aside, it’s a good product. I’m not sure these seats were designed to go to 180 degrees (there’s an unused area under the seat in front which looks as if it’s meant to accomodate the foot rest at an angle) but they have been modified to do so and have lots of space. There are even decent storage areas.
None of my Indian friends agree but the service has always been good on AI. They don’t do the fixed smiles of Jet or Kingfisher but they are kind, courteous and pretty efficient. Sadly, the women no longer wear traditional saris but they wear a modern airline take on them with a sort-of blouse thing underneath. The men wear the sort of uniforms stewards used to wear.
There’s a dedicated lounge at LHR T4 with a good selection of hot Indian food and drinks. It’s not slick but it’s well done and comfortable. They use one of the two main lounges at DEL (in that amazing, superbly smooth new T3).
It cost me under £2000 return and was just as good as BA at twice the price. Actually, the ground handling was better — they come looking for business class passengers to make sure that you are not inadvertently queuing to board.
Apparently, you can also pay at the airport to upgrade to the first class suites for about US$500 each way.4 Dec 2011
This is good news; I tried AI many moons ago and recall an horrific experience to NYC – the Maharajah Lounge was the high point, and was in itself a temple to kitsch, twenty years out of date.
I am sure AI will improve once freed of the shackles of state control, though as we have seen, this can take a long time to be fully achieved.5 Dec 2011
Thanks for the review, MarkCymru. I have not flown AI for a while now but have heard very good things about their new long haul planes on their India-UK routes. A friend of mine loves their BOM-JFK non-stop route, too. I agree about the new T3 at DEL – a great terminal.
AI does suffer from a perception problem given the Indian Government’s role and most recently the pilots’ strike on their Indian routes.
VintageKrug, I must say that I had a memorable experience a few years ago on AI’s LHR-JFK route. A colleague and I in business class requestd another glass of champagne. The charming stewardess said she would need to get another bottle as there was none left upstairs and so went downstairs to first class and brought back a bottle of Krug. We enjoyed that flight!5 Dec 2011
Last time I did JFK-LHR on AI (a few years ago), I offered to change seats so that a lady next to me could sit with her husband.
Turned out he was an Indian MP in a group and on deplaning, he introduced me to the former Indian president, who was charm personfied and who had just emerged from 1st class.
I see to remember AI being a bit rough around the edges, but basically okay, with plenty of space upstairs on the 744s.
And great curries.5 Dec 2011
VK — they need the state at the moment. They are losing eye-watering amounts of money (admittedly, mostly on unprofitable domestic sectors that the government forces them to run) and have had to pay salaries late a few times this year. Still, they’re in better shape than Kingfisher (which was put on a cash-only basis for fuel at Mumbai airport this week) or Jet (which seems to be funding its losses through the munificence of its Gulf backers). The Prime Minister had some top-level summit with the bosses of the private carriers last week, according to the newspapers. Presumably, some kind of shake up is in the offing but the government keeps saying that it will maintain AI as a national asset. We’ll see5 Dec 2011
I would never fly Air india, however good their products. With media reposts of pilots having fake licenses and crew having hangovers, I think the fundamental reason for choosing an airline is not there with AI, safety. I am not sure of the maintenance quality. Jet Airways are the only Indian airline I fly, they are very good
My personal opinion from what I read in the press5 Dec 2011
While occasional AI flights may work, if you ever have a problem, good luck getting anybody to help you.
By the way, those fantastic fares are being subsidised by the billion+ Indian tax payers who are forking over millions of badly needed dollars to support the few thousand employees who expect to have a job for life without ever getting fired for incompetence or sheer laziness.5 Dec 2011
theworldtraveller – Jet Airways has also fired pilots found with fake licenses, so…. “Jet Airways are the only Indian airline I fly, they are very good”
Did they find them all?5 Dec 2011
theworldtraveller – do you fly BA because I seem to remember a few sensationalised media reports of BA pilots drinking through the night before a flight? An overnight in Barcelona is the one I best recall… Chances are that there are rogue crew in all airlines so essentially your best bet is to stick with trains or buses. Ah, but then did you hear the one about the train driver……..5 Dec 2011
Mark thanks for the reply… its always nice to hear about other airlines other than the usual, do you fly often with them do they have good benefits for frquent flyer etc? You are so right about indian friends disagreeing about the service I met up with an old school friend of mine who comes from a strict sikh family and invited me round as her parents have flown with AI. I had never sean them act so excited even from her usually quiet mum for a whole 20 minutes we both got a full lecture of why you dont fly with AI. To cut it short everything from, service, onboard, ground handling, safety, fights in terminals, cleanliness, safety, a national disgrace etc.. you name it. They were great back in the day aparently not anymore. She was so embarrassed afterwards that she appoligised but we still had a giggle over it. x
I did a bit of research and apparently they are actually one of the worlds oldest airlines and Singapore airlines wanted to buy them but the deal fell through. Their first class seat looks really nice and similar to Japan airlines first suite.
Does BT have any plans to review Air India?5 Dec 2011
Thank God they have upgraded the Biz-class on international flights.
I flew the old A330 domestic Bombay-Chennai some years ago and it was, from start to finish, quite literally horrifying. Starting with the groaning noises the antiquated plane made while juddering through take-off, to the seat, which once reclined, refused to come back upright without major manual assistance, to the steward who served us, shirt unbuttoned at the top and chewing something, to the food itself which achieved a world first: tasteless, odourless Indian cuisine!
Never again, I swore and returned on Kingfisher First….what a difference!!8 Dec 2011
I recently flew Air India from Delhi to Tokyo-Narita in J and the service on the ground and in the air was excellent. I have loads of photos to share.
Would it be a good idea to post the link here? You can see the pics and decide if the new Air India is good or bad.
Since I was very happy with the service I have booked my mother to travel with them in J to LHR and she arrives tomorrow. So a fresh update will be available soon.
Also if interested have a look at my trip report Mumbai to Dubai. Jet Airways inaugural flight on the A332 in Aug 2008.9 Dec 2011