Tried & Tested

Flight review: SriLankan Airlines A330-300 economy, Colombo-Singapore

20 Feb 2024 by Hannah Brandler
SriLankan Airlines A330-300 (provided by SriLankan Airlines press room)


SriLankan Airlines operates seven A330-300s, configured with 269 seats in economy and 28 fully-flat seats in business class. These are mainly operated on medium- and long-haul routes, including the Colombo-Singapore service.

Flight UL308 is scheduled to depart Colombo Bandaranaike International airport at 1215 and land at Singapore Changi airport’s Terminal 3 at 1845.

Note that passengers visiting Singapore must complete an electronic SG Arrival Card in the three days before they enter.


I checked in online ahead of my flight, which allowed me to request a special meal (vegetarian hindu) and choose my seat free-of-charge. Seat reservation is complimentary for Platinum members of the carrier’s FlySmiLes loyalty programme, oneworld Emerald members, business class passengers, passengers with an economy flex ticket (myself included), and those travelling with infants or eligible for wheelchair facility.

If you aren’t included in any of those categories, then there is a US$10-30 charge depending on the route – or you can wait until online check-in opens 48 hours prior to departure for a complimentary seat reservation.

Ahead of my flight, I also received two emails for upgrades. The first concerned the carrier’s Neighbour Free Seats initiative, which allows you to book up to three seats (i.e. a whole row) so that you aren’t sitting next to someone and can also lie down if you need a nap. This is available on SriLankan flights with a ticket number starting with 603, and accessible from 48 hours to four hours before departure.

I clicked on the link 30 minutes after receiving the email, simply out of curiosity, but was then met with a “on no, you’re out of luck” message. I presumed this was due to the lack of seat availability on the flight, which was confirmed by staff at check-in who said the flight was almost full, with just 30 seats available.

The second email was about bidding for a business class seat. This is available from 12 hours until five hours prior to departure for flights from Colombo. Passengers are notified via email if their bid has been accepted, with their credit card charged only if the offer is approved. When I clicked on this option, there was a slider and the option was temporarily set at Rs68,490 (£172) – note that this is in addition to the original ticket price.

SriLankan Airlines A330-300 (image: Hannah Brandler)

I arrived at the airport at 0945, two and a half hours before the flight. A queue had formed to enter the building, with a security guard checking our boarding pass/ticket information. It’s worth downloading this on to your phone or printing it out ahead of time so that you can present it quickly. You don’t want to have to sign up to the airport wifi there and then, and have to start looking for all your documents.

Once inside, there is a corridor of small souvenir shops and cash exchange points. This opens up into a larger hall with several security zones to reach the check-in desks. Passengers are required to put their carry-on and checked luggage through security screening to reach the next area. This was quick and took just under ten minutes, with a security sticker affixed to the luggage.

There are boards throughout the airport signalling the check-in desk numbers for each airline. SriLankan Airlines was located at desks 6-11 and the queues were quick for economy customers. There are also self check-in kiosks, with staff on hand to help, as well as a bag drop kiosk. Members of FlySmiLes or oneworld passengers with ruby status can use a priority lane, as can those who have checked in online but have hold luggage. There’s an additional separate lane for business class passengers.

Note that the free check-in baggage allowance in economy is 30kg (or 23kg for routings to North/Central or South America), plus one 7kg piece of hand luggage and a small item (handbag, laptop etc.).

You must once again have your passport and boarding pass checked by a security guard before proceeding to emigration upstairs. I queued for around ten minutes and then had my passport stamped.

As soon as you exit emigration, there is a board detailing the walking time to reach each of the gates, various duty free shops, cafes, a wellness spa and a Burger King which was attracting quite the crowd at 10am.

I proceeded in the direction of my gate, presuming that security would be en-route but realised that there are instead scanners at each gate. A long corridor has gates on either side of travelators, with arriving and transit passengers coming in the opposite direction.

I found a space to sit and tap away at my laptop – though don’t rely on the free airport wifi as it’s very poor. There are seats flanking the travelators, but it can feel a little narrow when the buggies squeeze between these and the seats, so I kept tucking my feet under the chair so it wouldn’t run over my toes.

If you don’t want to buy anything or use the bathrooms, then you can go straight into the gate area where there is plenty of seating. The toilets weren’t particularly clean and there were several queues.

SriLankan Airlines A330-300 economy (provided by SriLankan Airlines press room)


Once I was ready to board the plane, I proceeded through security at the gate. There were two machines and the queue was very short.

My passport and boarding pass were then checked by staff and I sat in the large and busy waiting room – but there was plenty of seating.

The aircraft boarded from the back first – rows 50-62 – followed by business class passengers and those from rows 32, and then finally all remaining passengers at 1155. This was a smooth process.

After we boarded, the pilot made an announcement, stating that the conditions were smooth for the flight and that the duration would be 3 hours 30 minutes (it is marketed at 4 hours). We took off at 1225, and were offered a set of headphones ten minutes into the flight.

SriLankan Airlines A330-300 economy (provided by SriLankan Airlines press room)

The seat

The economy cabin is beautiful, with turquoise-toned seats in tropical patterns complementing the staff’s peacock-emblazoned uniforms. The colour scheme and design is a wonderful nod to Sri Lanka’s scenic landscapes and wildlife that I was sad to depart.

Economy class is split between two cabins, with rows 20-37 separated from 50-68 with four washrooms. There is an additional large washroom in front of 20H and 20K, and one behind 64A and 64C.

The cabin is configured 2-4-2 (AC-DEFG-HK) and my seat 26G was a well-located aisle seat, though I would usually opt for a window seat so I can experience views during the journey.

I recommend opting for the first cabin as you will be served first and you can exit the aircraft earlier when it lands. In terms of seats to avoid, I wouldn’t choose a seat in rows 20, 50, and 64-68 due to proximity to galley and toilets.

SriLankan Airlines A330-300 (image: Hannah Brandler)

All seats include a decent-sized IFE monitor, complete with a USB-A slot, plus an AC power port for electronic device charging. There is also a coat hook, though this borders on the neighbouring passenger, and seats also feature a comfy pillow.

I found the seat to be comfortable, with a pillow provided, and a footrest if you want to extend your legs. Unfortunately the passenger next to me encroached on my space, but thankfully I had the aisle to lean into.

Seats also have a foldaway tray table, but mine was not sturdy and it felt like my tray of food could slide off at any moment and spill onto my lap. Thankfully, I was cautious with it.

SriLankan Airlines A330-300 economy meal service (provided by SriLankan Airlines press room)

Food and drink

As previously mentioned, I requested a vegetarian meal ahead of the trip. The benefit with ordering a special meal is that you always get served first.

I received my meal at 1300, while other passengers were served 20 minutes later. At this point a trolley also served drinks, such as juice and fizzy drinks.

My meal was served on one tray and featured a cold bean and chickpea salad, a small glass of water and a main hot dish of rice with lentil daal and a vegetable curry. There was also a small pot of fruit for dessert, and stainless steel cutlery. While the meal was rather small, it was all quite tasty.

Staff then offered tea and coffee at 1337, and trays were removed at 1400, though this was a little late in my opinion, as it’s annoying to have an empty meal in front of you when you’re trying to manoeuvre.

SriLankan Airlines A330-300 (image: Hannah Brandler)

The flight

This flight is a medium-haul route, so there’s only time to have a nap, get some work done or watch a movie.

The IFE system is impressive, with over 130 films – both classics and new releases – however I couldn’t enjoy it properly as the headphones are really poor quality so you either have to opt for a film you’ve seen before or one that you don’t care much about – just in case you miss key plot points.

Another huge technical problem is that the films freeze every so often, and you have to keep exiting and then resuming them – I did this four times before ultimately giving up.

The A330-300 is also equipped with inflight wifi, though I didn’t see any signs for this during the flight so it may be that it was not available on my service.

There was a little bit of turbulence on approach to Singapore, but the flight was largely smooth and the staff were very friendly.

SriLankan Airlines A330-300 economy IFE (provided by SriLankan Airlines press room)


We landed at 1828 at Singapore Changi airport, and disembarked around ten minutes later. Some passengers pushed ahead of others (without excusing themselves) to get off the plane first, which was a little irritating.

The aircraft parked at gate B8 in Terminal 3, which is a fair walk to the arrivals area and immigration hall B. Everything was very well signposted and I was through immigration by 1850 thanks to the speedy and glossy e-gates, which are open to various passport holders – including all member countries of the European Union, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and the UK (there’s a notice with the flags of all the valid passports, or you can access the ICA website for more information). My biometric information was also recorded and scanned when I entered Singapore.

There are signs as you approach this area to remind passengers that have not yet submitted their arrival SG card to do so now, with tablets available to complete it.

Singapore Changi e-gates

I’m always relieved to land at Changi airport, with the biophilic and beautiful, spacious design particularly refreshing after being in a huge container for some hours. My luggage arrived at 1915 and, as I made my way to the ‘nothing to declare’ at customs, I was asked to put my luggage through a security scanner.

Once clear, I departed the area and proceeded to the airport’s dedicated ride-hailing pick up area, located in the basement. It’s an excellent, clearly signposted way to book a cab, with the Grab app letting you know which door and level to wait at.

Singapore Changi ride-hailing (image: Hannah Brandler


SriLankan Airlines offers a good service in economy for short- and medium-haul flights, with a decent meal, comfortable seat and friendly service. While the IFE system has great content, the technical side needs improving – as do the headphones.


  • Flight duration 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Configuration 2-4-2
  • Seat pitch 31-32 inches
  • Seat width 17 inches
  • Price A one-way economy flight from Colombo to Singapore with SriLankan Airlines starts from £265 in March
  • Contact
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