Tried & Tested

Jet Airways A340-300 Premiere (business)

1 Apr 2006 by business traveller

First impressions I arrived at Heathrow Terminal 3 at 0800 for my 0930 flight to Delhi. There was one business class (Club Premiere) desk open and no queue. Check-in was swift despite the computer's insistence of checking me in and printing the baggage ticket for all my flights over the next few days, including internal flights in India and my return to London. This was quickly resolved and I proceeded to fast-track security.

I later found out from Jet's in-flight magazine that passengers can use the American Airlines Park Avenue check-in facility. Here you are dropped off and checked in at kerbside and can then make your way through what can sometimes be a very busy terminal without luggage.

The Lounge Jet does not have its own lounge but uses United's Red Carpet Club near gate 12C. The lounge is large but slightly dated and the lighting is quite dim. There are smoking and non-smoking sections with plenty of seats, as well as desks and tables and a number of computer workstations. There is wifi access through T-Mobile at the usual prices. For refreshment there is a good selection of soft drinks, wines, beer and spirits. For snacks there are muffins, cereal bars,crisps, biscuits and nuts.

Boarding My boarding pass showed a boarding time of 0800 (90 minutes before the flight) which seemed a little early to me, so I ignored it and made my way to the gate just before 0900 when pre-boarding was just finishing.The security guard noticed my Premiere boarding pass and ushered me straight to the boarding desks. Once on the plane I was offered fresh orange juice and water as well as a selection of newspapers and magazines and a sweet for take-off. My jacket was taken from me and was stowed safely away.

The seat The new Airbus A340-300, leased from South African Airways, is configured 2-2-2 over two cabins. The seat is 61cm wide including armrests, and can be adjusted in all the normal ways (back, lumbar, leg rest). There is a massage function and buttons to convert it into the fully upright, cradle or flat bed position. I found the cradle position very comfortable. If you want to be horizontal, the bed allows you to lie completely flat. The only slight drawback is the headrest, which is quite hard and can get in the way of your shoulders.

The seat has a laptop power socket and light, and a divider that can be raised for extra privacy. The IFE is audiovisual on demand (AVOD) allowing you to stop, pause and restart programmes at will. There ares even music channels, 60 CD albums, 21 Bollywood movies, three children's movies, eight Hollywood movies, 16 TV programmes and five computer games. All are watched on the large personal screen with noise cancelling headphones.

The flight The plane pulled away from the gate at 0925 and was airborne 15 minutes later. Two amenity kits were given out, one containing eye shades,socks and La Essenza aroma relaxing gel. The other kit was from Bulgari and included facial spray (from La Essenza), a wooden hairbrush, toothbrush, toothpaste, ear plugs and Bulgari body lotion, lip balm and eau de Cologne.

In-flight service started with hot drinks, muffins and fruit. Three hours into the flight we were served a drink and some nuts. Jet's drinks menu includes those you would expect to see in first class such as Dom Perignon and Louis Jadot Puligny-Montrachet, plus a wide selection of other drinks and cocktails.  Lunch followed with a delicious Indian corn soup to start and a choice of four main courses:two Indian and two international. I opted for grilled chicken with a mushroom filling, which was very good. Dessert included cheese,pastries and a choice of Häagen-Dazs ice cream.

About an hour before landing we were offered another meal: a choice of quiche and pie, chilli fish goujons and baked chicken as well as cottage cheese dumplings and spinach and vegetable patties. There was also an Indian dessert. All the food was delicious; out of Heathrow, the food in business class is supplied by Bombay Brasserie.

Arrival We arrived 15 minutes ahead of schedule at 2320, but waited 10 minutes for the ground handlers to arrive with the steps (Jet takes responsibility for its ground handling from the government in April).The stairs were incredibly bouncy so I had to tread carefully. A bus took us to immigration where the queue was so long it took almost an hour to clear the hall. As a result my bag was waiting for me by the carousel.

Verdict A very good service.

Price Return business class with Jet Airways booked through online agent Travelocity (travelocity.co.uk) costs £1,718. Online bookings with Jet Airways (jetairways.com) are not currently possible in the UK.

Julian Gregory

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