CHECK-IN Promptly at 3am, I was at the business class counter of Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. Within minutes I was issued a boarding pass. My flight to Dubai was scheduled to take off at 5:10am from Gate 2 of Terminal 2. There was a short queue at the check-in counter, but I didn’t have to wait long.
As I was flying business class, I cleared immigration formalities in no time at the separate counter for business and first class passengers. Since there was no one in queue before me, I had ample time on hand to browse through the bookstore and duty-free, as well as relax at GVK Lounge.
BOARDING Boarding started at 4:30am at Gate 2. Initially the line to board the aircraft seemed to be a single one. Not much later, an airport official asked business class passengers to move to the front and board the aircraft first.
THE SEAT The business class cabin has 12 spacious seats, made of Italian leather, in a 2-2 configuration. Each seat has a built-in lumbar support system, generous recline (although it does not form a flat bed) and extendable leg rests. For in-flight entertainment (IFE), I could select from over 1,000 hours of movies, TV shows, music and games to stream on my personal 12.1-inch touchscreen. The IFE also includes live TV from five channels — BBC World News, Al Jazeera News Channel, Al Arabiya News Channel, MBC 1 and Discovery Channel. Alternatively, I could plug my laptop into the seat’s power supply and connect to one of the four wifi packages available on-board that start from US$3/₹192. Due to the early morning timing and a hectic day planned ahead, I decided to catch up on sleep instead.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? With just three rows, the choice is quite limited. However, since I was planning on catching up on my sleep, I was happy to be assigned the window seat of row 2 (seat 2A).
THE FLIGHT As soon as I settled into my seat, I was offered a welcome drink, and shortly after I was presented with the dining menu. It included a selection of assorted bread, fresh juices and green salad. Options for the main course were an Arabic chicken biryani and wok-fried Gulf prawns in a black bean sauce. I chose the former, which was delectable. For vegetarians, there was palak paneer, which is Indian-styled cottage cheese in a spinach, tomato and garlic-based sauce served with steamed basmati rice. The meal was rounded off with a slice of delicious Strawberry Shortcake. In addition to the Nespresso coffee, green and chamomile teas, soft drinks and fruit juices, the drinks menu had a limited, but agreeable selection of wines, champagne, beer, whisky, vodka and digestifs.
Despite being close to the galley, there wasn’t a lot of noise from the service area. Satiated with a wholesome meal, I soon drifted into sleep and awoke only when the pilot announced that we were approaching
ARRIVAL We landed at Dubai International Airport, promptly three hours ten minutes after takeoff.
VERDICT The staff was courteous. On the whole, it was a comfortable flight.
PRICE Internet rates for a one-way ticket from Mumbai to Dubai in mid-November started from AED 1,121/₹19,573 including taxes and surcharges.